PS Renewal, South Park, and Starting the Conversation

Sitting in a meeting, after being in the Public Service (PS) for about a year, I had a sudden realization: I was sitting through an underpant gnome meeting.

Some of you may be asking what exactly an underpant gnome meeting is. It’s a South Park reference. While I don’t really watch the show, this particular picture was helpful. It’s use to describe a process where people have Steps 1 and 3 of a 3 step process very well thought out, but are missing the crucial Step 2. The image below is from the episode:

In the context of PSR, we seem to have the following:

Step 1 – One-Off Initiatives
Step 2 – ?
Step 3 – Greatest. Public. Service. Ever.

As the former Clerk recognized, PSR isn’t about one-off initiatives, but is an ongoing process. With all the talk of the intergenerational workplace, Web 2.0, etc, it’s easy to get lost in the details. What we need to actually do, I would posit, is start a conversation.

Think about it: The current discussion about Gen Y v Gen X v Baby Boomers is interesting, and gives us something to focus on, but coming up with a handful of initiatives created without an ongoing conversation simply provide a temporary repair to the PS. Soon enough, Gen Y will be in senior management, with 2-3 more new generations filling the junior levels – these new generations will be different than Gen Y in make-up, values, beliefs, working habits, etc. We need to get in the habit of talking across generations, rather than silo-ing ourselves into our generational groups.

Too many initiatives come from only one group in Gov’t – either only ‘young’ public servants, a few from the ‘older’ generations, but it seems that only very rarely are these groups collaborating and beginning a conversation on how to improve the PS as a whole.

This conversation needs to be ongoing, attempting to reconcile and address the issues that exist, not in the context of generational differences, but in the context of better serving Canadians, being a more efficient government, and utilizing the tools that are available to us.

What about you? Do you have a conversation like this at your department? Who would you like to talk about the PS with?

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One thought on “PS Renewal, South Park, and Starting the Conversation

  1. I always forget you have a legit job in government.
    Also I have no answers I’m just here for the south park references.
    -CS

    (see what i did there? it’s christine. skobe. julia’s friend. you know. )

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