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.
I am a member of the Sustainable Development Team on the Canada Beyond 150 project. Throughout the Insight and Scenario portions of the project, my team came to the point where we needed more information than we could provide ourselves. We realized that in order for us to look into what the future may look like, we need to talk to the people who are currently working on Sustainable Development Goals here in Canada.
The speed and convenience of commercial services has dramatically increased in recent years. Today, a whole host of things – music, news, books, and movies – are available instantly from the push of a digital button. This isn’t a strictly digital phenomenon; physical services have also sped up and improved customer service as a result of digital interfaces and more real-time connectivity– you can order a faster and cheaper taxi through various apps, you can get mail-ordered groceries online, Amazon has a diaper subscription service, etc.
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.
We recently sat down with canada@150 alumni Mark Matz Executive Director of Oceans Protection Plan Operations at Transport Canada. In the podcast he speaks to his former experience as Privy Council Office’s Project lead of canada@150.
In the podcast he speaks to how canada@150 in its conception back in 2007 was a leadership development program that sought to explore different ways of collaborating, working together and approaching policy problems. In the interview he highlights how canada@150 inspired a technological component to collaboration in the Public Service. He also highlights policy horizon’s instrumental role in piloting foresight as a key tool for policy development.
Transcript available below:
We recently sat down with canada@150 alumni Michael Karlin. In the podcast, he speaks to the foresight tools he learned in canada@150 and how it shaped the work that he does today looking at Artificial Intelligence and the Automation of work for Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Chief Information Officer Branch, where he specializes in Digital Service Policy and Strategy.
In the interview he takes listeners into the future of work. He provokes listeners to think about the importance of foresight in designing policy that can ensure the political class is able to “run the ship far into the future”.
Transcript available below:
It was the third day of a seemingly ceaseless workshop, and I was exhausted. We were all exhausted. And yet there was also a sense of exhilaration, of elation in the room. The three Socio-economic Inclusion (SEI) teams were gathered to refine our policy challenges and opportunities, sharing ideas shaped by our diverse individual interests and expertise, and respectfully debating contentious issues, when it occurred to me: Work could be like this. This was work: engaging in deep critical thought, challenging ourselves and each other, questioning the questions, and attempting to find answers.
I went to Winnipeg to dive deep into the future of work, and I ended up experiencing a very clear vision of what I hope my future of work will look like: building connections with deeply inspiring colleagues, openly sharing diverse perspectives, freedom to express dissent, and always space to laugh. We entered the program as individuals from across the Federal Government, varied in life and work experience, and cohered as a team, free of hierarchy or pretense. We approached problems in a way that none of us could have on our own, or working within the silos of our home departments and agencies.
I now recognize what I was seeing. One of the first weak signals shared by a Canada Beyond 150 colleague expressed shifting notions of diversity and inclusion. While baby boomers and Gen X view diversity as equal representation and protections regardless of gender, race, religion, or ethnicity (among other identity factors), for millennials, diversity is the integration of myriad backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, and bringing them all to bear upon a single problem. And where earlier generations understand inclusion as a moral imperative to make space for diverse individuals in a workplace, for millennials, inclusion is a much more active concept. For this generation, inclusion refers to an openly collaborative environment that values different ideas and perspectives, and actively draws them in. Further, millennials know that these forms of diversity and inclusion have strongly positive impacts on an organization.
This may be the greatest insight I have gained from my participation in this program so far. Work can be like this. Work should be like this. What we can accomplish when we truly value diversity and inclusion, when we actively work to draw out multiple perspectives, is not only staggering, it is beautiful.
At the time I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but while I was in Winnipeg there was this certain song on loop in my head. From the time I woke up, throughout our discussions with various Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners in reconciliation, and well into the evening visits to museums and over dinners, it just kept playing. Unlike some of those less than pleasant earworms that can get in there – It’s A Small World anyone?! – this was a pleasant companion to underscore my days. It wasn’t until I stopped to reflect, that I realized this song’s lyrics were providing me with key kernels of wisdom for breaking open the present conversations I was having on Indigenous reconciliation. The song? Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel.
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.
It was not unlike many mornings in the office, save for one thing. As I sat sipping my coffee, responding to emails and completing my daily work, a stream of Twitter notifications lit up my screen. I was left thinking: what had I posted that could possibly generate so much interest? New to the whole idea of tweeting while at work, I was a little apprehensive about checking for fear of falling down a rabbit hole. But I did, and quickly realized the traffic was on a Canada Beyond 150 tweet I had made a few weeks back while I was working with my group in Ottawa. A tweet demonstrating a snippet of the ideas that had sprouted from one conversation and that was taken out of context – not an entirely surprising occurrence on Twitter.
— Jennifer Kolz (@jennifer_kolz) September 27, 2017