From Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen:
Maria Barrados, president of the Public Service Commission, has commissioned a study on the implications of generational turnover as the baby boomers retire. The twentysomethings and thirtysomethings who are starting their public-service careers today have grown up in a different world from that of their parents. There’s bound to be some friction, but friction can be useful, if it leads to positive change.
If it doesn’t, the new recruits will quickly become disillusioned. They might stay in their jobs because of the great benefits, good hours and security, but they’ll stop trying to be creative if creativity isn’t prized. They’ll learn, soon enough, how just to put in their hours and go home, and channel all their creativity into other parts of their lives. That won’t serve the taxpayers.
Full story: Tomorrow’s bureaucrats.
My own experience, from the perspective of more than 10 years “inside”: I still feel that creativity is possible, perhaps more so now than ever. The adjustment for me was learning that every so-called great idea (or brain fart) that I had was not necessarily the best thing organizationally speaking.
In the first few years I spent in the bureaucracy, I spent a lot of time being frustrated about this, but I gradually came to learn that it’s not just about me. How can it be? I am but one individual among more than 200,000 that make of the federal public service. Let alone the 30+ million citizens that we serve.
I wouldn’t call this realization disillusionment. Instead it’s far closer to enlightenment. I still bring creativity to my work. But I now have a much better sense of where to focus my creative energies. What’s that saying? Pick your battles. To me, it’s about leverage — spotting the achievable, realistic points at which you can effect change, and then taking advantage of them.
That’s not saying cherry pick the easy stuff — often the easiest changes to make are change for its own sake, stuff that doesn’t matter. I’m talking about making real, concrete changes that benefit Canadians who are touched by the services I provide. Pinpointing what those changes could be and then following through is a long process, and requires patience and persistence.
In my case, it’s about making GC websites and web communications better. Not prettier or flashier, but more useful. And for the websites I am currently responsible for, I feel like I’m just at the beginning. There is a lot to do. Good.