I’d like to reiterate something I’ve written about early on, and skirted before, but it deserves re-stating. When I started this blog, I made 3 agreements related to my day-job as a public servant; that I would:
- Disclose my blog to my Values and Ethics rep;
- Not blog about work: not my department or my work activities;
- Not reveal or comment on any privileged information gained at work.
I know this hasn’t been the practice of some other blogs by public servants (I will not name them), but maybe this reveals how we’re different. I must say I envy them, but our rationales for our blogs are very different: mine is to support my on-going learning on Public Management issues related to Web 2.0 (and as a repository of my thoughts); others use their blogs to influence and engage. There are pros and cons to either, advantages and disadvantages. My approach, I think, worked, though I know it could work better.
My readers know not to expect any inside track to insight on government from my blog, and I’m confident there’s been none to be had. Those who know me and my work well, know I actually “love my job, & the people I work with.” and that I “[n]ever felt so engaged to a job before” (and that I don’t mind saying so in any way that anyone may overhear).
There’s a possible contradiction between the content on this blog (which is largely driven from an academic standpoint) and the day-to-day work I experience (which is not in this blog). I do not blog about work, and as such, this blog hasn’t been a problem. In fact I have very good support from my work, guidance even (I wouldn’t have this blog without the support otherwise). And just as I wouldn’t write anything negative about my work, this also unfortunately keeps me from gushing positively about it as well (on this blog).
My blog postings have deviated from my work. Not out of line from my academic or public perspective. But about the tone or content I write about, I consider the perspective as one of a ”governance pathology“ a term I’ve heard many-a-time stated by University of Ottawa governance academic Gilles Paquet, referring to his own approach to governance issues; the study of how governance doesn’t work. With all the criticisms on Government and the relative popularity of the field, frankly I’m surprised more aren’t invested into this approach, I ask rhetorically: “who wants to reflect on inanities, or look at the glass as being half-empty, or identify the sources of problems?” when you can gush over the positives, the potential, and the opportunities (for advancement!). Some of us are left holding the bag, clean up the pieces, and try to make it work, and come back to work another day. And some go (back) to school and come back ready to tackle even bigger problems, by studying others, and practice seeing the forest for the trees.
It’s good to have a vision. I see that as the work of the politicians. It’s good to have a plan. I see that as the work of the public servants. And as part of the responsibilities to give professional, non-partisan, unbiased advice, is an accurate assessment of what’s there, where we are, and what needs to be done; but don’t worry: there’s plenty of time to polish it, decorate it and sell it.
I hope this helps explain my at times unconstructive or unproductive approaches, against others’ more constructive or productive criticisms, as I am a deconstructivist and non-structuralist. With the different approaches to problems, it can help to take them apart, to dispense with the broken parts, and see it for what it is. I’ll happily leave the salesmanship, the marketing, the polish and the pizzazz for others. My academic approach to public management is to get at the truth, and speak it to you, or to power, or the average Joe or to the public. Actually I should say; and to the public.
So there you have it. If you want to read about the wonderful benefits of Web 2.0 and Government 2.0, as I’m sure you know there are plenty of sources to read about that. But if you wanted to read about how I think the Government of Canada can do it better, hopefully I offered that.
I just want to make it interesting while you’re here. Hope I did.