Top Canadian bureaucrat gets it, the workers at the bottom get it, who’s left?

Here’s the scoop: In the 17th annual report to the Prime Minister published a few weeks ago, Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters states “government departments have to embrace the Web 2.0 tools and technology that rest of the world uses that allow more collaboration among workers, levels of government and Canadians”. While his predecessor included similar phrases in the last report, Wayne clearly makes a point to emphasize how Canada has fallen behind in terms of e-government, not just from a technological standpoint, but much more importantly from an organizational culture standpoint.A grassroots movement of proactive public servants has been brewing for years now trying to push this to the front of our government’s agenda. Just take a look at the Canadian examples on the Gov 2.0 wiki or the conversations going on under the #w2p, #goc, #gov20 and #g20 hashtags.

So this begs the question, who’s left to convince? Why aren’t the majority of departments jumping on collaborative platforms, 2-way engagement tools, and data sharing programs?

My simple answer:

  • Extremely risk -averse middle management (not everyone, but the majority)
  • Political culture of centralized-control (enough said)
I sincerely hope that representatives from these two groups (not just their junior staff!) start attending events such as the Gov 2.0 Expo taking place in Washington D.C this year in May. The Government 2.0 movement is revolutionizing the role of the public service in numerous countries. It’s time for a wake-up call. This latest Privy Council Clerk report is a great chance for proactive public servants surrounded by a stagnant culture to piggy-back on and lead the change within their departments.

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Nina Adrianna

I think you are accurate with your assessment, Mike. In addition to attending gov20 conferences and talking together in forums such as Govloop, does anyone have concrete examples of how ‘workers at the bottom’ can affect what you have described as:

-Extremely risk -averse middle management (not everyone, but the majority)
-Political culture of centralized-control (enough said)

Or, can nothing be done but wait?

Srinidhi Boray

Departments aren’t jumping because it works against them. They have lived a rigid culture all these days suddenly ask them to get agile and talkative with one another, it is a nightmare for some of the leaders. Especially for those who gamed the contracts, fudged strategies and plans or just have merely lived mediocre life.

Gov 2.0 is really awesome. In fact the next transformation in the society is in the dissolution of elitist. This means more pro-active movement from the people castigated and marginalized into grass-root status.

Many years back working for an electrical manufacturing company, the need to integrate the grass-root workers into the management planning, especially in the design cycle was much desired.

System that was deployed had this principle – “anyone” “anywhere” anytime” can integrate into the system and initiate a plan for product modification or engage into ongoing process in the hope of developing and delivering best possible solution the customer, in the end this would mean improved business opportunities for the company.

For the workers on the assembly line this was an opportunity to involve more intimately with the company and apply some of the skills gained but not applied. Hope awaited them to work more in the lime-light, to be be heard and also hear from the other higher level workers.

It was tempting to call the architecture “catholic” – all encompassing that would dissolve the barricades both vertical and horizontal.

For some of the existing leaders unfortunately “status-quo” seems to work in their favor. But it will not be for long.

System is never stagnant, when transformation is in process it will wait for no-one. It will be beyond the “personality” call. Vertical pluralism is what will emerge accompanied by network effects. This is the theory 🙂

Mike Kujawski

Hey Nina, to answer your question, progress is being made every day. In Canada the federal government has setup a central internal wiki called gcpedia. On this wiki, the early adopters and working-level community of government social media pioneers are sharing documents,justification plans, presentations and planning after hours meetings to move gov 2.0 forward. I’ve also created a wiki myself which lists examples of various social media initiatives: