Thursday, December 11, 2008

Big Day Ahead!

I've been on the road for the past few weeks - interrupted only by a short holiday in my native land (!).

Last week during the Management Trainee Program (MTP) Annual Conference I gave my "Bottom-Up Change" presentation in both official languages for the first time. Today, I'll be delivering it at the Canada School of Public Service's weekly Armchair Discussion, first in French, then in English. The presentations will also be available in webcast. If you attend the event in person or watch it on the Web, please use my blog to provide feedback. I'm looking forward to reading your comments.

Last week's MTP Conference also featured my new talk: "Living Renewal: How to Turn An Organization Around in 1000 Days". In this presentation, I discuss the drastic shift in morale and employee engagement experienced in my organization over the past 3 years. It is directly in line with the objectives of PS Renewal, and I've been waiting for the opportunity to tell this story for almost a year now. It seemed to be received quite well, despite the fact I had to cut short the last half-hour - which is also my favourite part because I use it to debunk some myths about organizational renewal and change management. This afternoon I am supposed to record the talk in both French and English for a podcast sponsored by CSPS. Hats off to Dean Landry, who is really "taking the bull by the horns" by bringing these concepts to life at the School and making the most of what technology has to offer!

I know I will be drained by the end of the day. Regardless, I think it will be worthwhile!

So PLEASE!!! Share your comments and feedback! :-)


ncharney said...

Etienne - I was planning on attending but the OC Transpo strike means I can't get downtown!

Good luck.

Tammy said...

I attended via webcast - to stimulate and start discussion I booked a small boardroom and invited managers to attend to continue the discussion after we participated in the webcast. Unfortunatelly I didn't get any takers in the room, I hope that I spurned on a few to participate on their own however.

I recently left my previous department for the big reason you spoke about - Poor Management - overworked, under appreciated workforce. Here at my new department the structure is such the management should be better but I see the blocks of entitlement, lowest common denominator and lack of performance management is still very evident. It is still that elephant that no one is talking about.

Thanks for a great presentation - really appreciate your style and candor...and courage for starting this discussion.

Sean said...

I also attended via webcast.
I thought it was a great presentation - though perhaps a bit short on examples.
I know your thinking on renewal might still be in its nascent stages, but some more corporeal examples of what a legitimate attempt at renewal might look like would have been quite helpful. What does courage look like, OTHER than speaking truth to power, as you did. Other than spreading this message of change, what does one do to in their day-to-day work to renew the public service?

I felt overarching themes (especially the flaws identified with some attitudes in the PS) were great, I was just left with a bit of a hollow feeling at the end, that the main take-away message was simply to bring attention to these problems. While this is important, is there something more constructive that might be done?

Regardless, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Hello Etienne,

A colleague attended your Arm Chair and was really impressed. She sent a link to your inconvenient renewal paper saying that what you were saying sounded exactly what I had been saying for years. It does sound a lot like what I have been saying but you say it better. I was impressed with the degree of research you put into this.

What she did say was that the audience seemed disatisfied with some of your answers to questions about what they can do. In her opinion they were particularly disatisfied because many were grunts not managers and you seemed to be talking to mid-managers. Here are some of my suggestions:

1) Bring attention to the problem:

Challenge Managers who fail to deal with poor performance.
Challenge Destructive behaviour.
Challenge Policy-first; Client-last attitudes.
Have courage to step forward and be assertive about what is right and valuable and what is wrong and destructive.

2) Don't stop just because change doesn't happer right away:
Those who ignore your challenges when faced with continued challenges will eventually have to do something.
Build a collegial team to work on the problem. I am only a grunt and the management team above me isn't perfect. But I bring issues to their attention and, when they don't go or get anywhere on an issue, I keep pushing them to go further. I have learned which among them will respond positively to different ideas and I move them in that direction.

3) If you start to burn out use these techniques:
Take stock of what you have achieved, changed, challenged.
Notice that you survived even when your challenges were ignored.
Notice that a lack of accountability goes both ways; those who would like to punish client-first attitudes and innovation can't hold you accountable for straying from policy!
Affirm life, grieve death.

Thank you Etienne for inspiring me to continue on the course I have set.