The road to ‘gov2.0’ is paved with culture and lined with technology. That was overarching theme at yesterday’s PSEngage. I was an invited guest for the purpose of observing and commenting on public service initiatives. I wasn’t able to attend each of the sessions. However, I have a very specific list of takeaways from the sessions I did attend.
I’ll examine one in this post.
Treasury Board President Tony Clement opened the day. His speech mixed political messages regarding public service renewal and specific examples of how TBS is taking charge of its own workplace culture. In addition to some spoken word points on the subject, Minister Clement showed a short video of the new workspaces TBS has established. You may have heard after the last election he asked that his desk be removed from his office saying “I don’t find a desk helpful. It gets in the way, creatively and with interpersonal dynamics.”
TBS is moving to a work environment that encourages interaction, collaboration and innovation. They’ve done that by reinventing the space. It’s a mix of workstations, coffee-shop like gathering places and hotelling-stations. Those who would prefer can have standing desks. One person in the video talked about having to rethink his workflow when storage cabinets were removed to maximize people space. It’s a brilliant approach meant to disrupt thinking and breed innovation; something unusual in the public service and uncomfortable for those who have become rigid in the way things have always been done.
I was asked by one of the organizers what I thought of that idea. I noted the book Blue Ocean Strategy offers a Four Actions Framework which includes eliminating the factors that are taken for granted. Apple is often maligned for doing this. They remove keys from the keyboard or interface connections. People complain when this happens. It doesn’t take long to figure out how to work more creatively and more productively without. Innovation.