Are Public Service Managers Ready to Change the Way They Manage?

“Let’s face it, changing is inconvenient for any creature unless it is seen as a necessity. To relinquish the old and embrace the new is a big risk.”

    - Joe Dispenza


In the spring of 2006, I started jotting down some ideas for an article on how to improve our workplaces. These ideas stemmed from my sometime difficult experience with various organizations, but more specifically within the Public Service of Canada. The hardship I had experienced was not unique however; nearly every person I knew who had recently joined the public service had similar anecdotes to share. When I started connecting these anecdotes together, I found a larger story that needed to be told. So I put together some thoughts that eventually became the skeleton for a paper. And then Public Service Renewal was announced... I figured I should probably hurry and finish up the paper, otherwise I would miss the boat.

On November 5, 2007, I released
"An Inconvenient Renewal: Are Public Service Managers Ready to Change the Way They Manage?". I initially posted it on my blog, and sent it in PDF format to a few hundreds selected public servants across the country... And it spread like wildfire! The Canada Public Service Agency accepted to translate the paper in French, and posted it on the CPSA intranet site in order to make it available to all federal public servants.

Why this site?

I have received quite a lot of feedback regarding the paper, mostly positive. The observations I made hit home with many public servants who recognized that what I described in my paper was also "what people talked about in the hallways" (i.e. the organizational culture). As someone put it, the paper may not have changed the public service, but it certainly put people management on the forefront of the PS Renewal agenda and made it a top priority by getting a critical mass of people - including managers and senior executives - to acknowledge some of the things we are not really good at and therefore need to change.

It is with this intent that I decided to create a dedicated website for "An Inconvenient Renewal" (see also the French site). By making this site public, I hope to achieve a few objectives:
  1. Make people management a central theme of management - not just within the public service, but within any private, public and not-for-profit organizations;
  2. Draw the attention of bargaining agents (the "unions") to the matters I discuss in the paper, as they play a key role in changing the culture of the public service (e.g. the culture of entitlement, managing poor performance, building trust, etc.);
  3. Stimulate an on-going conversation around the ideas contained in the paper and build on them in order to support PS Renewal.

What's new and different?

The content of the paper itself has remained exactly the same, except for a few minor updates and corrections (please report any broken link or typo). Simply use the right-hand menu to navigate through the sections of the paper, namely:
I have added a few new features to this site:
  1. At the bottom of each page I have included a short piece called "In hindsight", in which I give some background information on the content of the sections, explain what were my intents when I wrote it, what sort of reception it received, what new thoughts it prompted, and how my perspective might have changed since the release of the paper;
  2. I have gathered all the written feedback I received from readers since the release of the paper in a new section called "Comments From Readers";
  3. At the bottom of each page, you will also find an "Attachments" and a "Comments" functions which allow you to share your thoughts on any given topic or section, recommend links or share documents. (Note: You must have a Google account to use these features. If you don't have one, you may open one here.) This is the conversation part of the site and I hope it will be widely used;
  4. Finally, I provide a few links of interest relating to PS Renewal.


And now, the mandatory "scary" stuff… (because no site managed by a public servant would be complete without it!).

I am a federal public servant, however this site is not sponsored by the Public Service of Canada. The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Public Service of Canada, Departments & Agencies, or their members. I have proactively disclosed the site to the Values & Ethics branch of my department in order to comply with the
Values & Ethics Code for the Public Service.

You are welcome and encouraged to participate in the discussion on this site, either in French or English. Postings will not be translated. Comments are owned by the poster. I reserve the right to remove inflammatory or inappropriate comments.
It is visitors' prerogative to identify themselves as public service employees, name their Department / Agency / organization, or to use their work email address.

Final word of wisdom...

This site is only as valuable as people's contribution. Make the best use of it!

Etienne Laliberté

=> Go to Acknowledgements

[1] Dispenza, Joe, D.C. “Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind”. 2007.

Copyright © 2007, 2008 Etienne Laliberté

Étienne Laliberté,
Aug 31, 2014, 2:01 PM
Étienne Laliberté,
Nov 9, 2008, 11:43 AM
Étienne Laliberté,
Feb 3, 2009, 11:05 AM