Update: GoC’s shared services

Here is a short update about my previous post about GoC’s shared services:

Electoral reform…soon!? Please?

The easiest part is putting the ballot in the box.

Last Thursday I worked as a “Deputy Returning Officer” in the provincial Ontario elections, district 15, poll 88. Despite the boredom and gruelling hours, I appreciated the introspection it provided into the electoral process at work in Canada. And just how needlessly complicated and archaic it is. With voting levels approaching all-time lows, pollsters are pressed more than ever to consider means to improve the accessibility and appeal of voting. I present 3 suggestions to drive up voting and improve the process. Read more »

Reflections on having worked the Ontario elections

We follow 12, count'em, 12 steps to get your vote count. You need only follow 3 steps.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to work as a “Deputy Returning Officer” in the provincial Ontario elections, district 15, poll 88. Here’s a few things I learned:

  • No resumé, interview or background check is administered to work the election. I got my position from filling out a form after voting in advance polling. Just about anyone and their dog could get a job working the poll.
  • At our poll the day was dead. We kept expecting a rush, but alas there never was one.
  • You work a 13 hour day. Feels like 18.
  • Anyone can vote. Anyone.
  • New this year was a policy that anyone (I mean anyone) could get away with voting, by swearing an oath. They may be committing a crime, and voting illegally, but there’s nothing we can do to stop them from voting. (We would note it in our ledger however). Read more »

GoC’s Shared Services: The wrong solution for a bigger problem

The Government of Canada announced an initiative to centralize services across the government, to develop consistency across departments, and most importantly cut costs by reducing redundant systems and contracts.

On paper, it makes sense. To improve efficiency and lower costs by consolidating services centrally and reducing contracts. Solid argument, seems very reasonable.

In 2006 Tokyo's Department of Recreation launched their "Swimming Pool shared services" initiative resulting greater efficiencies and lower costs for pool administrators by combining the pools (and their staff) together and reducing pool hours. "Pooling resources" is always the right solution.

Read more »

Technology strategy for non-profits

Update: Added links I mentioned during my presentation.

This evening I will be presenting at TechSoup at their inaugural event for their Net Tuesday Technology Planning series.

I created the following Prezi, that I want to share with you:

GoC Web 2.0 wish list for 2011 (Part 3)

This is part 3 of a 3-part series. See Part 1 here.

Just throwing the coin out there, to the Centennial Flame fountain

A year and a half ago I posted “GoC Web 2.0 wish list“. For 2011, I decided to reinvigorate the post with this update. Here’s my 10-point wish list. 10 departments, 10 wishes.

Part 3: The rest.

#8: GCPEDIA: Support the user community

I know GCPEDIA isn’t a department, but it might as well be (hey, what about as a Special Operating Agency?). The Government of Canada-wide wiki, GCPEDIA (I’ve blogged about it before) recently signed-up their 20’000th user , a big feat for this 2 year-old GoC site. As a metric, 20’000 is great, and so are the number of edits by users and articles created, but the site could have more user-focused development and responsiveness, highlighting user contributions (instead of the dissemination of the profile and words from the top public servant), supporting users mutually developing and supporting training on the tool (instead of a schedule of costly training from central agencies), and connecting with other wikis in government departments, other governments, and the public sector (instead of…not). Read more »

GoC Web 2.0 wish list for 2011 (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a 3-part series. See Part 1 here.

A year and a half ago I posted “GoC Web 2.0 wish list“. For 2011, I decided to reinvigorate the post with this update. Here’s my 10-point wish list. 10 departments, 10 wishes.

Just blowing them out there. Maybe they'll germinate. Or maybe not.

Part 2: Departments on my radar

#4: Natural Resources Canada (NRCan): Share your DNA

NRCan continues to do some great stuff, with knowledge-sharing, openness, social learning, and innovation. Probably you still won’t hear much of it, these great things PLUS their humility makes up the very fabric of the departmental being that is NRCan. With recent changes in senior ranks, I hope senior leadership on this front continues, and that NRCan continues to share their DNA, because other departments need to see that truly being innovative and collaborative doesn’t involve risking your house of cards falling, but can lead to stronger bonds, greater resilience, and a supportive culture.

#5: Canada School of Public Service (CSPS): Support Social Learning in the Federal Government

Some big things have been happening in the past few years in the GoC: Social learning events. Public Servants are gathering and organising their own free events to learn, to share, to exchange with each other. The stereotype of the federal public servants as non-collaborators working in silos is breaking down, more and more every day, and the sky isn’t falling from all the collaboration. Just the opposite.

Read more »

GoC Web 2.0 wish list for 2011 (Part 1)

This is part 1 of a 3-part series.

Don't worry; that shooting star ain't going anywhere.

A year and a half ago I posted “GoC Web 2.0 wish list“. The responses from the post were awesome, especially responses I received in person. Although I’m reluctant to look at that list again, fearing many of the wishes hadn’t come true, I think it’s still a very relevant post. I’m happy that some of the items did come true (DFAIT is on Twitter!), others half-true (Privy Council Office  is starting to come around on Web 2.0), while others remain still a wish (Natural Resources Canada lost their pioneering collaborating Deputy Minister Cassie Doyle and the Canada School of Public Service still doesn’t offer Web 2.0 courses).

But nonetheless, kicking off 2011, here you go, another list.

Part 1: Departments at the center

#1: Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS): make a choice: either Control OR Measure.

As the Government of Canada’s program reviewer and accountability guard of government departments, it plays both roles as coach and judge. If departments are playing hockey, TBS sets the rules and policies on the very ice that they themselves created (through the Management Accountability Frameworks). But the world of public administration is a complex one, and the game continually changes. While TBS can change the rules and adjust the boundaries, they’re also keeping track of the score. Unfortunately they are left with narrower options to both pull departments into compliance and push them into accountability. The usual options are rejecting proposals, reducing options, lowering budgets and limiting discretionary decision-making authority, evident with TBS’ attempts to both control and measure Web 2.0/Social media adoption by departments.

Government departments face tough choices to make on Web 2.0: adopt it and face consequences, or [continue] to wait for policies (and blessings) from TBS, all the while facing ever-increasing criticisms from the cynical populace and hits from TBS on program implementation. TBS both controls and measures departments, and departments either push the barriers, abide and wait, or take risks, venture forth and face the consequences.This pattern risks repeating itself with the next wave of change facing the public service.

Read more »

Do you know about Ignite presentations?


Spear-headed by O’Reilly media, they are 5 minute presentations, with slides advancing every 15 seconds.

The idea is great. We’ve all been there; the presentations with a 400-word essay on one slide, that never end, with quizzical imagery and obscure messaging. If the messiahs are still claiming that powerpoint is dead, then Ignite re-invigorates into a valuable form. I would love it if Ignite presentations became the de-facto standard of presentations, no longer supplanting the workgroup process, but kicking it off to get everyone on the same page (and then onto the work, off the screen!). Read more »

3 types of events to support Social Learning

Social learning:Social learning refers to the acquisition of social competence that happens exclusively or primarily in a social group.”

Social learning excels in topics that are too new, too complex or too fast-changing, nailing them down in written form is difficult. You’ve come across it: the knowledge is developed right there, in person, with others. It happens at a conference, in a group meeting, in a task force.

Something I learned while studying education was that you can improve group learning by effectively segmenting your groups. Groups that are better aligned to the topic, learn better. I’ll give an example.

Say you have a whole bunch of people who want to learn about wikis. The most direct way to organising the event would be to maybe schedule 3 classes, and fill them up. A more effective way would be to organise an event for 3 segmented groups: beginner, advanced and expert. Not only is there something there for everybody, but people learn with others, with more targeted content, more relevant questions, better help from others.

In the field of social learning and facilitated learning, there are many ways to hold social learning “camp” events. For the past year I’ve experimented with various social learning formats for big groups. I’ve found ways to structure social learning events for 3 levels of learners. Read more »