Reflections on the 62nd IPAC National Conference
I had the pleasure of attending the 62nd Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) National Conference in Ottawa this week and thought that this would be a good opportunity to share what I thought were the highlights. The "Guardians of Our Communities, from Local to Global" conference theme was an ambitious undertaking supported by an impressive line-up of speakers including David Dodge (Former Governor of the Bank of Canada), Kevin Lynch (Former Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet), Duncan Stewart (author of Deloitte's Predictions for 2010 and Beyond), Tom Jenkins (Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer for Open Text), Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo (National Chief to the Assembly of First Nations), Stephen M.R. Covey (author of The SPEED of Trust), and Jennifer Stoddart (Privacy Commissioner of Canada). The conference appears to have been a great success (well deserved congratulations to the organizing committee); well planned, smoothly run, attended by more than 400 delegates representing 30 countries and almost all of Canada (conference organizers are hoping that they will be able to attract a delegate from Nunavut next time around), and all levels of Canadian government including First Nations'. Yet, I am still left with the feeling that perhaps the "right" public servants were not in attendance to hear the intended messages...
Where are the decision makers?
I tried my best to use all of the available health breaks, luncheons, and networking time to get a sense of who the other attendees were, why they were attending the conference, and, of course, what issues are most concerning to them in their role in the public service. Overall it seems many were first timers, a good number were last minute stand-ins for colleagues, and some were assigned it by a new boss who thought that their group or department should be represented. I had expected to meet Directors, DG’s and ADM’S – the public servants who my boss met when he used to attend the conference. So where were our Public Service decision makers?
It is exciting that so many foreign public servants made the trek to Ottawa from Japan, Nigeria, and Kenya among others (thank you CIDA). However, I was left with the nagging feeling at the end of every really engaging and thought-provoking presentation that the Federal Government had really missed out on a great opportunity for the MESSAGE to be heard by as many senior managers as possible. (Kudos to PPX for continuously drawing an excellent and diverse group of senior public servants to its events.)
So, you ask, what was the MESSAGE? Of course there were more than a few messages and stories delivered by the many speakers, but it did seem to me that they had definitely come together beforehand to plan and coordinate their reinforcement of necessary change around the larger issues the public service should be embracing. In reviewing my notes I have found that I could sum it up quite nicely in a mathematical equation. (I apologize to those of you who are visually inclined, but I am mathematically so.)
- Announcement of the launch of "Public Service Without Borders" by IPAC...however, this is open to IPAC members only. Not sure how this requirement leads to a forum of openness, transparency or “borderlessness”.
- Call to Tweet and Text questions for speakers.
- As we recover from the government spending in 2008-2009, David Dodge cautions us on adopting new health care policies - we need to keep health care spending down and focus on process improvement, project management and especially risk management.
- Kevin Lynch urges us to make INNOVATION a priority and pull Canada out of its "innovation deficit". We need to take a leadership role in innovation to address our depressed productivity, competitiveness, and technology adoption.
- Chief Atleo - calls for new policies to replace the Indian Act to move forward.
- Great story on the use of a wiki from Angelina Munaretto, Library and Archives Canada.
- Tom Jenkins stresses the need to ensure that Canada does not get left behind in the "information revolution". We must adopt the new "productivity tools" available. It's all change management - we need to come together on a strategy and take a long term view.
- Interesting panel of New Professionals presenting their views, thoughts, and experiences with regard to Public Service Renewal.
StoddardStoddart (Privacy Commissioner) underlines how privacy reinforces trust, innovation and growth in a global digital economy.
What was missing...
I would have liked to have heard more about:
- The use of GCpedia or other internal wikis as a repository of institutional knowledge
- Concern for knowledge loss and knowledge transfer (heard mentioned once by Grant McLeod, New Professionals panel)
- Change and culture with respect to new technology adoption
Best presentation award goes to...
Stephen M.R. Covey for the 90 minute condensed version of his 3 day workshop on TRUST. Nothing revolutionary, yet at the same time it makes such good sense. When you start thinking of trust as an economic driver, as a top leadership competency, and as a learnable skill, you can't help but be swayed by Covey's evangelical delivery that "Trust" can make THE difference in the public service by increasing speed, energy, engagement and joy while decreasing costs. "Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust...without trust, it takes you longer and costs you more" (Stephen M.R. Covey, IPAC 2010).
I will definitely be ordering my copy of The SPEED of Trust this week. I have already loaned my deck of "Trust Cards" to one of our senior associates this morning to share with a client. And I will be posting my book review and an update on my progress in building a trust dividend next month.
Although the agenda for the GTEC 2010 (Oct. 4-7th, 2010) looks quite impressive, I am going to be opting out in favour of the PMI OVOC 10th Annual Symposium in Ottawa , "Unleashing the Power of Project Management" (Oct. 12-13th, 2010). I am hoping to explore "it's all risk management" theory more in depth.
So, did you attend the IPAC Conference this week? I would love to hear about your impressions to see if they are in line with my experience – please leave a comment below.