Monday, November 30, 2009
I wonder if that speaker was Dr. Sandra Williams.
I was thinking of that speaker and what she had to say when I wondered how to describe government's interaction with the public. Jim Diers warns us not to confuse public apathy with alienation. I do encounter those who believe the worst in our government, applying sinister motive or applying various conspiracy theories. Distrust in government is rampant. I counter that the situation is worse than they think. No-one is in charge, and those running the show are no smarter than you and me. The injustices and failures that people see are not sinister, but accidental.
I envision an entity built so large, it has forgotten it's purpose.
Which brings me to a children's story, "Jonathan Cleaned Up - Then He Heard a Sound" by Robert Munch. You can hear the story by following the link. In the story, City Hall makes a mistake and runs the final subway stop through Jonathan's living room. Jon marches down to city hall and runs in to various officials - and the computer - to try and solve the problem. He discovers the whole show is being run by a lone little man behind the computer. "Don't tell the Mayor the computer is broken. He spent ten million dollars for it." Jonathan solves his problem by applying a little blackberry jam.
There are so many truths in this little tale, I don't want to ruin it by explaining them all. I do think the story does hint at where the solution lies. We have to snoop around and acknowledge what we see as the truth. Something this big won't be fixed right away, but individual heroes can fix what they see. We have to find ways to make big government small - not by literal downsizing - that little man was mighty lonely and mighty hungry - but by bringing the services closer to the people.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
My best wishes to Trapper for his full recovery. For Shirley and her son, I do hope they find the attacker's owner is so that they can seek some compensation. It should not be so hard to find out who the other owner is. Outside of the FOIP Act, there's a long history in law that courts are to be open to the public, and that our rights to court information supersedes any right to privacy. The principle behind this is that justice cannot be perceived as being just and fair unless it is open to scrutiny. Shirley and her son are obviously interested members of the public, and are entitled to this information.
All they have to do is attend court on December 3 and look for names and courtrooms for the related charges.
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has given greater recognition to the constitutionally protected right to open courts than to the fundamental value of privacy. Discussion Paper, Judges Technology Advisory Committee on Open Courts, Electronic Access to Court Records, and Privacy, May 2003 (See 5)
See also FOIP Guidelines and Practices, Section 1.5, Records Excluded from the Act
Friday, November 27, 2009
Worthington in his editorial suggests that “…as long as our own guys don’t indulge in abuse, we don’t have much control over what Afghans do…” and “Nor should we put ourselves in a position where we dictate cultural behaviour.” Tolerance of abuse is not cultural. It is always wrong - even if we are not participants but passive observers. With that reasoning, the world allowed the Rwandese genocide to continue unabated, ignored.
Besides the murky moralilty of turning a blind eye to torture, I am also deeply concerned that this information was first covered up, then denied. I can guess at the motivation. Our leaders wish to maintain the Canadian mythos of an army that extends the olive branch and works with the locals to improve conditions to raise confidence in democratic intervention. With this shameful breach in ethics, however, the locals know the truth. The Canadian soldier has an olive branch in one hand and a blindfold in the other. How could the common people trust that anything can be any better in their country, if we have given away the moral high ground?
The only resolution is for our government to come clean, take it’s licks, and reform. I also wonder if the trust has been breached in Afghanistan to such a degree that we might consider withdrawing.
I borrow the picture from General Brock's blog.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
(Picture of the Saskatchewan Palm Pilot, borrowed from Ollie's London Pub Choice, olpc.ca)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
- Care for the earth
- Power to prevent crime
- Care for one another
- Demand justice
How could this translate to an organizational community? Well, right off I could see that energized groups of staff would be great at:
- Implementing green solutions in the workplace
- Increase compliance with internal checks and balances (reduce white collar fraud)
- Care for one another (more positive interactions with the public)
- Alert their leadership to weaknesses within (before, say, it gets public)
I am reminded also of the principles of Kaizen, where individuals are engaged to make small, incremental changes in areas they can control, and leadership is engaged to promote the large scale innovations that will help the organization leap forward. Middle management, as usual, are in the middle, helping both groups stay engaged.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Withholding economic opportunities also, no matter how politely rebuffed, oppresses ambition. I once witnessed a native couple walking hand in hand, initially hopeful, making their way down a row of apartment buildings displaying vacant signs. When I exited my building a couple hours later, they were walking dejectedly, less hopeful than the start. How many times must a person face rejection - or worse, the "hate face" as described in Griffin's book - before he gives up and believes the lie? I am reminded again of Gladwell's comments on meaningful work. Griffin also describes in detail how the persecutor demeans himself by stooping to cruel behavior. To deny another his humanity is to diminish your own.
An afterword in the book describes the violent upheaval a scant decade afterwards, in the race riots of the late sixties. Mr. Griffin describes the pattern of oppression and explosion, as whites heeded rumor rather than the blacks in their on community and in the white community's reaction to a phantom threat, sparked the black communities in their midst. In the subtext is a suggestion that a lot of this could have been avoided with simple communication. In helping the black man, ask him. Provide an atmosphere where he will be honored and heard.
I can't help thinking in the general neglect, the failure to offer simple courtesy, and the polite refusal to allow a sub-group access to good housing and good jobs, that we as Canadians continue to do a disservice to our native communities. I overheard Shawn Atleo, head of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) that it is the First Nations responsibility for instance, to develop a response to the H1N1 virus. I think he is talking about upending the paternalistic response to "the problem" (As Griffin speaks of in his book), and allowing this community to speak for itself and take care of itself.
On another note, I stumbled across this article while investigating online acquisition of queue. Guess what? Other people took it before me. At queue.ca, a Canadian IT company, they speak about Customer Relation Management (CRM). Like most things, it's not the tool that makes the company, but the application. Guess what? Just like community interactions, a company will also be much more successful if it listens to it's customers, and is willing to make changes to their process in order to make it better.
The technical issues with CRM are not unlike those of any software development project. First, objectives and specifications must be well defined and documented. Tools and technology must be selected based on relevant criteria (features, cost, etc…). Implementation milestones are then set according to business timelines and availability of resources. A significant testing phase is recommended to ensure functionality, so problems can be corrected on schedule. Final delivery of the application should also be accompanied by a maintenance plan for regular housekeeping issues (backups, synchronization with remote locations, database maintenance, etc…). E-CRM is not EASY by Alex Lee, 2002 http://www.queue.ca/publications.aspx