Renewal and Corporate Initiatives

Corporate initiatives drive me batty.


Most of the time, they are run out of corporate groups (HR, etc) to address issues that other groups may not see as important/relevant to their day-to-day work. Even if the corporate group is identifying the problems correctly, they often have difficulty obtaining buy-in from the broader department in pushing their solutions forward.


Renewal runs into the same problems.


We see reports churned out year after year, with action plans for how we’re going to move forward. The ideas are often put in terms of management functions, with primary accountability often being assigned to corporate groups who go about creating internal initiatives that have an HR bent to them. For those not working in HR, though, the initiatives rarely become a priority. Various senior managers then submit reports back up the chain to demonstrate how they have been successful. Renewal is deeper than that, though. It has to do with shifting a culture towards one where we’re able to be more open about our work. It has to do with encouraging people to work across departments (or heck, even within a department) in order to produce better solutions to the public policy challenges that we face.


But instead, we focus on how to hire younger people. Not much use if they are socialized into a culture that destroys the very traits we claim to be looking for in new public servants.


Chelsea wrote an excellent post looking at the idea of agency within our own jobs. Even if our contributions may seem small or non-existent at times, you can generally still influence a process – and that can take several forms. Giving a colleague a helping hand, or contributing a bit to an ongoing wiki project, are all ways of pushing forth the idea of renewal. If you’re hiring a student, how you work with them and what sort of behaviour you model influences their view of the public service. Even your colleagues will take note of what sort of behaviour you model.


With that said, I’m a bit stuck. There’s a disconnect between the corporate initiatives that are being run, and real every day change on the ground that would seem to be required for any meaningful change to take place across the public service. We have pockets of excellence with a wide range of public servants that are making changes each and every day in their groups. I just don’t know how we get those initiatives and changes to shift to the broader public service in order to create an overall culture of excellence, rather than just leaving it in pockets.


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