Our system is broken, and we know it’s broken. Our public service – those bureaucracies, institutions, universities and healthcare systems – who once gave our country a massive advantage over others, are fast becoming the Achilles heel of our competitiveness.
We are not getting major projects approved. We are not reducing wait times for surgeries. We are not improving our education rankings. We are not helping the middle class. We are not improving workplace productivity. We are not attracting the smartest people to public service. And we are not building the next generation of public service leaders.
In fact, we are getting worse.
An intervention is needed. And I’m resurrecting this blog to start the conversation.
The root cause of the problem is that we have become complacent about our expectations of these institutions, our bureaucratic leaders are leading with antiquated management philosophies, and the good people that work in the public service are surrendering to a system that perpetuates and rewards mediocrity.
Most have given up on the topic, shake their heads and say that things will never change.
I disagree. It will change. Slowly. It may only change one ministry, institution or agency at a time, but it will change for three reasons:
- The next generation of public service leaders – Gen Xs and Millennials – are far too altruistic, connected and impatient to settle for continued non-performance;
- The next generation of public service employees – Millennials and Gen Zs – will not tolerate antediluvian leadership models, will not suffer in uninspiring work environments, and will not accept the eventual erosion of their aspirational goals and their human spirit; and
- The next generation of the general public – the private sector and private citizens – can no longer afford the cost of government and will no longer sit quietly and politely when they see poor performance in exchange for their tax dollars.
Change requires leadership, and it is time for a new generation of leaders to be properly armed with the strategies and courage needed to make change in our public service.
I look forward to the discussion ahead. I promise to be provocative, as it is too important of a topic to be left not discussed.
Thanks for writing this great article. I am 100% agreed with you that our system is broken. I am currently out of the country but will be back in late July. I would love to get together with you when I am back.
Jack Yong 7802386382
I couldn’t agree more Brad. Our beaurcratic system rewards mediocrity and punishes anything outside of status quo. We need to reward innovation, and take risks to improve our nation.
I believe Margaret Mead said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I am hear to give my time to help be apart of the solution. I hope more will step up and challenge the status quo with us pal.
Brad, you are entirely correct, we are living in a massive vacuum of accountability and leadership in our city, our province, and our country. How can we get involved and help you? I’m in.
I admire your intent, but talking about it does not solve the problem. It is the actions that are taken that solve the problem. For instance, I believe it is important to learn to create sustainable and fulfilling work so I helped create http://ceti-ltd.ca/ and I volunteer some of my time to mentor creatives in their hands-on projects and collaborate with colleagues from different parts of the world. While we welcome new members, my point is not that everyone should join in this approach, but rather individual and groups should pick a problem and take actions within their capacity that helps mitigate that problem rather than attempting to lobby in the broken system.
Talking about it starts the discussion. I will share more on solutions and approaches later in the summer.
I’m with you Brad.
Hi Brad, thanks for starting the conversation. You identify some complex problems, however, I don’t agree that the problem/solution is simply about the performance of the public service. From the inside of the public service, I work with many bright and effective colleagues, of all ages, who are here to serve and are empowered to be innovative by our leadership. Increasing public accountability, changing demographics, and macroeconomics are just a few externalities that play a large role in the problems you identified. So although I don’t feel stifled in the public service, or that we are surrendering to mediocrity – I am committed to continuous improvement and excellence. Looking forward to any ideas you and others have to contribute!