Tuesday, January 06, 2009

There's something happening here

During the Holidays I came across "A Leader's Manifesto" by Kelley Eskridge. I recommend it to those who have enjoyed "An Inconvenient Renewal", as there are many similarities between the two documents. You will also find plenty more manifestos on the ChangeThis website.

I would love to see more of these manifestos being released by public servants. It would be a great complement to the work of the guys at CPSRenewal and my own. Actually, I would argue that we need more people to join in and provide active support through unique contributions of their own. We need a diversity of ideas.

Following my presentations at the MTP Conference and CSPS' Armchair Discussions last month, I have received quite a few emails. About half of them were from public servants who wanted to share a good idea with me. That in itself is a good news. But then, a good portion of them would go on to suggest that I would be the perfect person to kick-start the idea and make it "real".

While I find the suggestion flattering, it also indicates me that while my message may be well received, it is not entirely understood. When I talk about things like courage and the need to speak up and do something, I am implying that it is our duty! Not just mine, Nick's or Mike's!

That being said, if there is one thing I have learned through my involvement and participation in various PS Renewal committees, it is that the request is rarely the true need. More often than not, we must look beyond one's request to uncover the real need that is not being met.

For instance, I have heard many young public servants demand the creation of formal mentorship programs. The vast majority of managers simply nod in approval, and once in a while, launch such a program, with mixed results. But only a minority of managers actually take the time to ask the young public servant why they're making such a request. When they do, they are able to uncover the real reason behind the request to create mentorship programs. In this particular case, the real reason is usually twofold: 1) new hires lack meaningful guidance in the public service; and 2) they don't have any role model in their immediate work environment. But that doesn't necessarily warrants the creation of mentorship programs. Mentorship programs are just one way to address the need, but there are many (less formal!) options as well.

I think it's the same thing with the people who suggest I should implement their good ideas. There must be some unmet need behind their request, but what it is ain't exactly clear. If you have thoughts, please share them.

1 comment:

Todd Parker said...

Etienne,

I am sure you've read Steven Sample's Contrarian's Guide to Leadership? Is that where you came up with your blog? BTW, Margaret Wheatley will be talking in Victoria soon, is she going to do a seminar in Vancouver? Have you seen her before? Is she worth seeing?

Todd