Management
May 7, 2012

Viser l’innovation négociée

 

Lee McCormack, ancien cadre supérieur du gouvernement, est directeur de la recherche à la Fondation canadienne pour la vérification intégrée (FCVI) Inc., qui œuvre dans le domaine de la recherche et de l’éducation. Pour en savoir davantage sur l’innovation négociée, consultez le document Innovation, risque et contrôle : Guide du secteur public pour encourager l’innovation, comprendre le contrôle, gérer le risque, réduire les lourdeurs administratives… et optimiser les résultats pour les citoyens publié par la FCVI à l’adresse www.ccaf-fcvi.com.

Votre patron vous incite à être innovateur, mais vous avez très peu de moyens à votre disposition au sein de votre ministère. Et même si les risques présents à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur de votre bureau semblent augmenter, les outils pour soutenir la prise de risques intelligente — essentiellement les compétences de gestion des risques — sont peu nombreux et le taux de tolérance du risque est faible.

Si cette situation vous est familière, il est possible que vous soyez un cadre pris dans le « calme parfait » qui entoure l’innovation dans certains gouvernements au Canada.

L’innovation dans le secteur public suppose l’évaluation des risques, puis la mise à l’essai et l’application d’une idée créative pour résoudre un problème ou améliorer une politique, un programme, un produit ou un processus. La créativité concerne l’idée. L’innovation concerne la mise à l’essai de l’idée (habituellement dans un projet) et, si les résultats sont concluants, l’appliquer à plus grande échelle.

Voici en gros ce que les gestionnaires doivent faire : affecter les ressources, produire des résultats pour les ministres et les citoyens chaque jour, et trouver de meilleurs moyens d’exécuter ces tâches au fil du temps.

Durant une bonne partie de 2009, j’ai eu le privilège de me pencher sur ce qui empêche les gestionnaires de mettre à l’essai de nouvelles idées et, surtout, sur ce qui les inciterait à prendre, à l’occasion, des risques. J’ai lu la documentation, assisté à des réunions dans plusieurs capitales canadiennes et j’ai écouté (ou interrogé) des centaines de gestionnaires, du niveau intermédiaire jusqu’aux sous-ministres. Voici mes conclusions :

1.Il y a beaucoup d’obstacles à l’innovation, mais trois obstacles principaux sont en tête de liste.

Les pressions pour produire des résultats et le fardeau administratif : en général, un gestionnaire considère les pressions quotidiennes, l’exécution des services et l’évolution dans le monde opaque des règles administratives comme des activités plus pressantes que l’innovation, qui est rarement encouragée au-delà du supérieur immédiat.

Manque de ressources : les projets pilotes pour mettre à l’essai de nouvelles idées nécessitent des ressources financières, techniques et humaines. Ces ressources sont rarement excédentaires et personne ne peut innover avec peu de moyens.

Faible taux de tolérance du risque : les gestionnaires voient peu d’avantages à prendre des risques. Un programme au rendement moyen sera moins critiqué qu’une tentative d’amélioration qui échoue. Pour les gestionnaires, l’échec d’un projet équivaut à un échec professionnel, même si l’on est mû par une bonne intention.

2.Mais les bons incitatifs peuvent permettre d’éliminer ces obstacles.

Les obstacles peuvent être surmontés si les incitatifs les plus importants sont renforcés pour accroître la confiance. Dans ce contexte, il existe trois incitatifs fondamentaux, en l’absence desquels peu de choses peuvent être réalisées :

•D’abord, une culture innovatrice dépend de l’impulsion et du soutien que lui accorde la haute direction, qui détient le pouvoir, l’influence et la capacité de financement. Les cadres supérieurs doivent, en permanence, confirmer que l’innovation est importante, encourager et reconnaître les innovateurs, réduire la bureaucratie, et accorder le temps nécessaire pour la mise à l’essai.

•Deuxièmement, les cadres supérieurs doivent gagner la confiance de leur équipe. Les erreurs de bonne foi ou les projets qui ne se concrétisent pas sont tout à fait normaux. Les employés doivent être convaincus qu’ils seront protégés contre les sanctions exagérées en cas d’erreur de bonne foi. Tous les gestionnaires doivent accepter l’idée d’« apprendre par l’erreur », sachant qu’un risque pris de bonne foi, mais qui n’aboutit pas, ne devrait jamais freiner l’avancement d’un employé.

•Troisièmement, les organismes doivent trouver des moyens d’habiliter les gestionnaires intermédiaires. En encourageant le personnel de première ligne — les transmetteurs de la culture dans la plupart des ministères — les cadres supérieurs démentent l’idée nuisible selon laquelle seule l’administration centrale peut innover. Les bonnes idées peuvent venir de partout. Et lorsque les gestionnaires intermédiaires se sentent appuyés (et qu’ils croient que les erreurs de bonne foi seront tolérées), les possibilités de mieux servir les citoyens se multiplient alors.

Les cadres supérieurs cherchant à promouvoir l’innovation doivent mettre l’accent sur le soutien au niveau supérieur (communication, atténuation des contraintes de temps, acceptation du risque et affectation des ressources), la motivation (habilitation, formation, mobilisation des utilisateurs finaux, constitution d’équipes diversifiées et récompense) et le perfectionnement des compétences (en gestion du risque et de projet).

3. La bureaucratie est centrée sur le processus plutôt que sur les résultats.

Les cadres supérieurs qui encouragent l’innovation comprennent la différence entre le contrôle rigide et le contrôle souple, et visent un modèle « lâche-serré » dans lequel quelques règles « rigides » sont établies et étroitement surveillées. Mais dans le cadre de ces règles rigides, les employés ont la liberté de déterminer les possibilités et d’innover, pourvu qu’ils adoptent des méthodes de gestion saines et les valeurs de la fonction publique dans leur travail.

Il y a bureaucratie lorsque les règles prennent plus de place que les risques qu’elles visent à atténuer. La bureaucratie a sa propre pathologie et, comme un vulgaire rhume, elle est difficile à éviter.

Les gouvernements au Canada ne sont pas tous préoccupés par la bureaucratie et c’est bien comme cela. Mais la bureaucratie est présente dans chaque gouvernement et nos recherchent indiquent que la dotation, la gestion générale des ressources humaines et l’administration des contrats et de l’approvisionnement constituent d’

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