Over the course on the last ten months, the Canada Beyond 150 initiative convened a Canada-wide group of new public servants working in various capacities to participate in a professional development program designed to support leadership, and skills development, as well as drive culture shift across the public service.
Category: From the Design Team
Canada Beyond 150 was a training program designed to help early-career public servants learn new ways of developing policy through increased engagement and collaboration with stakeholders.
Last week was our last official meeting with our Canada Beyond 150 participants, where they presented their policy interventions to managers and stakeholders. On the final day, they had the opportunity to talk about their journey and their ideas with the Clerk of the Privy Council and fifteen Deputy Ministers.
I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication that the @CanadaBeyond150 participants brought to bear in the last 10 months. You have acquired and refined skills that will be crucial in the public service of the future. Kudos! pic.twitter.com/KN2ARTQIGL
— Michael Wernick (@Clerk_GC) March 28, 2018
— Laura Portal (@LauraPortal347) March 27, 2018
Over the past 10 months, Canada Beyond 150 participants have worked on 2 goals:
- Experimenting with new ways to develop policy;
- Learning to co-create and engage with a diverse spectrum of partners during early stages of policy development.
This will bring a positive cultural shift in the public service, and forward-looking insights into some of the most pressing issues facing the Canadian public policy environment.
If you’ve heard of Policy Horizons, you’ve probably heard that we’re a government think tank focused on strategic foresight. We call our experts futurists because they explore a wide range of possible futures – nothing to do with tea leaves ;). They study facts and events called “weak signals”, indicators of possible change that could potentially disrupt our current systems.
So what is foresight? How does it differ from forecasting?!
A number of participants have asked for advice on practical ways to share what they have heard so far, and whether they need to act on the feedback. The answer is yes. As a minimum starting point, we all need to acknowledge the insights people share with us, honestly and respectfully. We know that Canadians care about their government engaging with them, and seeing evidence that their insights are helping shape policy.
Open Government is a concept. It’s a view into government. It’s an invitation to stakeholders, citizens and civil society to help shape government decisions and actions. It is not a program or policy, yet both can be part of achieving the vision of a government that encourages civic participation, invites accountability and demonstrates transparency. Examples of open government include proactively disclosing financial and human resources-related information online and publishing expenditures that can be displayed visually or as machine-readable charts. These measures are intended to strengthen public sector management.
Almost a quarter of the participants in the Canada Beyond 150 project live and work outside of the National Capital Region. They’re expected to contribute to the project in the same way their Ottawa- and Gatineau-based colleagues do, but the task hasn’t been easy. And for many of them, this isn’t a new challenge either.
Here are some do’s and don’ts we learned from working with our participants in the region.
I have been wearing glasses all day, every day, for 19 years. I don’t do anything without them, and feel vulnerable when I see the world through my weak, bare eyes. But last week, in Winnipeg, I didn’t need my glasses to see where my work was going on the Canada Beyond 150 project.
My team and I were recently in Winnipeg, for the mid-project meeting and stakeholder interviews. Our group works on the theme of reconciliation. As part of our learning experience, we participated in a sweat lodge ceremony that was hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). Kevin, from the NCTR (located on the University of Manitoba campus), made us feel at ease, and taught us about the centre; its mission, members, and the facility. There, I had my very first smudging, to cleanse the mind and prepare me for the conversations we were about to have with each other and our hosts. The dried sage was lit and extinguished, and my hands guided the smoke over my head, face, heart, and body.
Once the intention was set, the conversation turned to focus on policy. Policy, according to Stuart Forestell, one of Canada Beyond 150’s project team designers, is the answer to the question: “what should we do?”.
The room was presented with a scenario concerning an individual with some challenges. The story was designed to help guide the discussion in a focused manner on the traditional and emerging policy tools that can be used or considered. We talked about what can be done, how a shift can be communicated to individuals, businesses, and lawmakers, and what the possible consequences may be.
This was one of the first things the Canada Beyond 150 group heard this morning; a fitting description of the program and the journey so far.
This morning, the discussion was around the pivot point: the shift from foresight and the ideas of many possibilities, into the complex world of concrete considerations, recommendations, and applications.
Given everything heard, learned, taught, and examined over the last few months, what can now be applied to the work participants are doing in their service to Canadians at their respective departments?
What lies ahead is a positive vision of a fully engaged workplace, helped by the knowledge and experience gained by each participant. It’s the time to engage, have conversations, ask, learn, listen and have fun.