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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 20 June 2014

Queen's Park Lobby Day Action Plan Index

There are youth with suggestions for our politicians about how they can do a better job engaging with young Ontarians. These youth are prepared to go right to Queen's Park to raise their voice.

But what do they do when they get there?

I'd say, go big and do a Lobby Day.  I even said I'd help.  Well, here's Phase I - the index for a lobby day plan.

What gets done with it, I'll be curious to see, and right here prepared to help.

1      Executive Summary


5              Lobby Day Service Offering Items

6              Lessons Learned
6              Estimated Time Allocation per Event

7              Option A - Client Orientation Breakfast/Lunch
7              Option B - Arranging Introduction/Question for Question Period
7              Option C - Meetings with Relevant Members/Staff/Other
8              Option D - Information Session
8              Option E - Evening Reception
8              Option F - Ongoing Media Monitoring/Intelligence Gathering  
8              Option G - Event Debrief and Suggestions for Future Engagement    
10            Estimated preparation time required per Option  

11            Strategy vs. Logistics
11            Itemized List of Tasks involved in a Lobby Day:
12                  Strategic
12                  Logistical


This, you don't need to see for free


39            Process for Booking Rooms at Queen's Park  
39            Process for Arranging Food, Drink and Service at Queen's Park
40            Arranging for Guest Entry to Queen's Park
40            Arranging for Member/Minister Attendance at events


47           The Invitation
49            Making a Unique Atmosphere
49            Making the Personal Connection
50     DRINKS
50            Reception Drink Options - Basic
50            Reception Drink Options - Standard
51            Reception Drink Options - Premium
51     FOOD
52            Basic Food Options
53            Standard Food Options
54            Premium Food Options
56            Promotional Items
57            Environmental Basic
57            Environmental Standard
58            Environmental Premium
58            Safety Basic
59            Safety Standard
59            Safety Premium
59            Home Giveaways Basic
59            Home Giveaways Standard
59            Home Giveaway Premium
61            Standard Breakfast
61            Standard Lunch (Plated)
62            Standard Lunch (Buffet)


64     FORMS
64              Committee Room Booking Request Form
68              Dining Room Booking Request Form
71              Demonstrations/Special Events, Legislature Ground Request Grounds
77              Sample Buffet Breakfast Contract
77              Sample Buffet Lunch Contract
78              Sample Buffet Lunch Contract
80              Sample Plated Lunch Contract
82              Sample Reception Contract
84     MAPS
84              Floor Map, Committee Rooms 228 &230
85              Floor Map, Committee Dining Room
86              Floor Map, Legislative Dining Room with Tables

There's No Power in Laissez-Faire Capitalism

On my mind this morning - does great power come with great responsibility, or does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

The current model of capitalism is supposed to work around supply and demand.  What the people want gets produced; what they don't want falls off the table; pricing gets worked out based on a natural balance between what people want and how much of it there is.

But it's based on money alone.  What happens when it's quality jobs people want, but they aren't being produced?  Or a meaningful voice in democracy, but aren't being listened to?

Youth unemployment hits both of these issues.  It's all well and good for elites to tell youth they need to suck it up, work hard, invest in education or networking programs or whatever else, but they're also saying two other things:

- hey youth, you deserve what you want, go buy it!
- hey youth, we aren't interested in buying what you have, but keep sending out those CVs, it's good practice for something.

The wires in this message are crossed in ways the old-guard doesn't seem to see - the reason they got ahead was because people were willing to invest in them, to take a risk.  An immediate ROI wasn't the issue.
Now, and immediate Return on Investment is everything.  If there's no immediate return, don't do it. But we're telling youth to work hard, for years, to get to maybe hopefully get to a place where they can start paying down student debt, much less getting ahead.  Where's the immediate or even long-term ROI on that?

It doesn't exist.  

Why would a business invest time and money in fruitless endeavours?  Why produce products and services when nobody's buying them?

This is the predicament that youth face - a predicament caused directly by laissez-faire capitalism.  

It's an unintended consequence, I'm sure, but still a worrisome one.  If the people at the top accept no responsibility for empowering the next generation, if they're so committed to scoring more cash for themselves by whatever means and hoarding it, then circulation doesn't happen.  There's a growing generation that is being completely left outside of our economic and political systems.

Which is even more backwards, because the silver surge on the inside is going to find themselves in very short order wholly dependent on those disengaged, increasingly spiteful millenials.  One system is becoming more concentrated, but it is entirely surrounded by a new, poorly organized system that can't but consume what came before.

We keep hearing talk about iterative failure, and how success in the new economy means taking risks, dedicating investment into the process to ensure the best result and prioritizing small wins, not just big, bold ventures.

Until organizations and individuals with money and power walk the walk, though, it's just talk.

You'd think the baby boomers would recognize when youth are done with talk and are prepared to move towards action.  They have become what once they railed against.

And the cycle repeats, until we once again equate great responsibility with great power.

In the long-term, it's the only smart way to proceed, and yet we don't.

Maybe it's time to reframe the conversation from one about return on investment and risk to one about having a little faith in our youth and what they can do with a little help from the rest of us.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Virtuous Schemers, Assemble!

#WeAreOpen to Superheroes - VIRTUOUS SCHEMERS ASSEMBLE Misc

The whole "dead centre of the universe thing" is a bit much - I'd have though by now we'd realize we are never the centre of anything.  

But we don't need to be.  Just being part of the change is exciting enough.

Some assembly required, mind you, but that's okay - we love building things.

No New Money

No, I'm not referring to the Premier Wynne quote that's making the rounds.  She's right on that, though I would suggest there are far more effective ways to spend the money coming in right now.  

What I'm talking about is this:

Mark Adler, the same guy who begged for a money shot with Harper at the Western Wall in Jerusalem pulled in $30,000 from lobbyists at a fundraiser.  That money will go to, essentially, selling himself to his constituents and tarring his opponents. 

I know people who work two jobs and don't make that a year.  

At a time when a growing number of Canadians have given up looking for work despite not being able to access benefits, it's a bit rich for an MP to be breaking rules by asking well-heeled organizations to put money in his pocket.  That's time that would be far better spent meeting with constituents and actually earning, not selling, his right to be MP.

Of course, Adler is just one example out of many.  There is a lot of money out there changing hands in ways that add no real value to communities or individuals.  There is a lot of capital collecting dust, waiting for the economy to improve before any meaningful investment takes place.

Who do these folk think is going to invest in Canada if well-resourced Canadians won't?

There is no new money - not pouring in from overseas, not within public coffers, definitely not being circulated among those without.  But there is plenty of money to be had.

I raise this not out of vindictiveness, but as a note of warning.  Those who have money can talk all they want about people not selling themselves hard enough to deserve getting a cut, but the people who feel they are doing everything within their power to no avail feel differently.

Citizens are voting less and, as seen in Ontario's recent election, opting to decline their ballots as a sign of protest against what they feel are poor political choices.  There is a growing mood of protest across the country being exacerbated by a sense of the good life and decision-influencing being predominantly controlled by a select few elites.

People aren't just frustrated - they're angry.  Angry people starved of the funds they need to survive and deprived of a legitimate democratic voice aren't sheep, they're a mob waiting to happen.

If our government is start, they'll stop telling Canadians they're protesting too much before that anger explodes. 

I have an unfortunate tendency to be right on this kind of thing.


Everyone loves talent.  We revel in the accomplishments of athletes, innovators and leaders.  It's in our nature to do so.  Talented people are bright lights - interesting, engaging, challenging, fascinating - we're all moths to their flame.

There's something magical, though, about young people who aren't just talented, but have a honed talent.

It's easier to understand how adults who have spent their lives in practice have turned raw ability into an effective skill.  Prodigies, however, boggle the mind.  How can people without the advantage of time be so good at a skill or practice that they can go toe-to-toe with people who've lived multiples of their lifespans?

Morgan Baskin is no child - at 18, she's a woman - but she is a prodigy.  Informed, articulate, confident in her presentation, able to answer questions directly but in a way that conveys her core themes, Baskin is an effective communicator.  

At the same time, her take on leadership is lightyears ahead of where most people in charge stand.  If Baskin reminds me of anyone on the current political landscape, it's Kathleen Wynne.

The more she gets out in public, the clearer it becomes that Baskin is no less qualified to be Mayor of Toronto than any other candidate, and certainly more so than the current Mayor.  She doesn't have Olivia Chow's long record of being in politics, John Tory's long record of being in business, but she clearly has the capacity to communicate as well as any of them.

Combine that with a willingness to engage, a perspective that differs from the status quo and, because of her age, less expectation than other candidates, it's not impossible that, with enough exposure, she could convince enough voters (including those who don't traditionally vote) to take her seriously and give her a shot.

Regardless of whether she wins the mayoralty race or not, it's pretty clear the sky's the limit for Baskin - and she's got plenty of time to get wherever she wants to go.

It's the CULTURE, Stupid! Peter MacKay does a John Tory

The key word, of course, being justification.  We're not rational actors, despite what you might believe - we tend to feel our positions first, then rationalize them afterwards.

As stated at the bottom of the article, there is no statistical evidence that women or people from minority ethnic groups are applying - the fact that MacKay makes that assumption says more about him than it does the broader reality.

As a new father, MacKay is (or should be) acutely aware of the massive responsibility of parenthood, if you care to do it well.  Both parents have the capacity to prioritize the care of their child; diapers, putting baby to bed, even bottle-feeding can be done equally by both parents, if they're willing to dedicate the time.

Which is, ultimately, what it comes down to.  We dedicate time to the things we prioritize.  We're never "too busy" for the things that matter to us; "busy" is an excuse not to focus on the things we see as being of lesser value.

It so happens that we live in a culture that still views men as the primary bread-winner/hunter who not only needs the free time to go out and hunt, but also the bigger portion of meat at home so that they have the energy to do so.

This is a culture that suits men well, as we can easily justify networking events or late hours at the office because we're "busy at work" rather than terrified of extended time watching over a needy, messy, loud and not very engaging baby.  
The only reason men get to do this is (warning: generalization) women pick up the slack.  

Whether this is through personal choice, a biological inclination or social pressure - this last is key - women are more likely to make sure that the important thing that a man doesn't do gets done.  

If encouraging women to stay at home with the kids is about not wanting to take something away, it's about men not wanting to have their freedom taken away.  Or maybe, they're not so sure they could handle that much actual responsibility.

This is a different cut of a common theme - slavery was about off-loading the work we didn't want to do.  Discrimination is about pushing away the people who challenge us to broaden our perspective and make an effort.  Like children who avoid cleaning their rooms or learning to read, a laissez-faire approach to anything is equal parts laziness and discomfort at tackling a challenge head-on.

Enter John Tory.  I pick on him not because I have a position on his mayoralty campaign one way or the other, but because he provided a perfect example of why it is our whole cultural approach to work and equity needs to change.

Those were John Tory's words, and they're not far off from the position MacKay takes.

The image we get is of the boss, sitting in his office, waiting for employees to come to him and make the case for why they deserve promotions.  These same employees are making sure to hobknob with the boss on the golf course or at the bar.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease; the boss sees this forceful sales job as indicative of worth and rewards it accordingly.

So - who's doing the actual work while these guys are focusing on selling themselves, or competing?

This is a global, historical phenomenon - women do the hewing of wood, hauling of water and raising of children while the men sip coffee or fight wars.  The justification men use for this model varies from "women aren't tough enough" to "staying at home is actually what they prefer" but at the end of the day, it's all confabulated justification.

Here's where it gets interesting, though.

The history of civilization is the emancipation of women - literally.  The more oppressed and less educated women are, the more disjointed and violent society becomes.  As girls and women are able to pursue education and roles other than home-maker, the more stable, innovative and sustainable societies become.

And that's a reality that is backed my statistics, even if it's an uncomfortable truth for laissez-faire or self-centered, sales-oriented men.

I empathize with Peter MacKay, I really do - I can only imagine how hard it is to absorb the reality that you are the part of the problem that needs to change.  I know all too well how hard it is to wrap your head around realities that differ from your own world-view.

In his defense, it's not about him, though - our whole culture is built on the ignorant assumptions of previous generations.  It's important for him to recognize that we aren't limited to those constraints any more than children are limited to the skills they have at birth, or women are constrained to be home-makers only.

After all, it's by overcoming our assumptions that society has progressed as far as it has.

And we wouldn't want to remove all the progress we've made, would we?  That'd be a little bit like moving backwards when what we need to do, if we want to stay competitive in the global marketplace, is move forward together.

The Wynne Factor

Damned right I'm smiling.

Wynne is a facilitator and an empathetic person.  She is 100% authentic.  

This matters a lot.  In politics, the game is to score wins and take wins away from your opponents.  You expect the same thing from the other benches, so backs are always up, words are always parsed for hidden meaning or opportunity, etc. That's how it works.  

But there are precious few people who get into politics solely to add "Honourable" to their name. They do it because they really do believe they can make a positive difference.

Picture a Conservative MPP going in for a conversation with Premier Wynne - they've got their back up, ready for a fight or sensing the need to be tough to get their message across.

Suddenly, they're in an actual conversation with a woman who is actually listening, asking clarification questions and then, later on, referencing the very points that Opposition MPP raised in Question Period, or in legislation.

This is Wynne's difference.  She's a leader first, a winner second.  Having managed the latter in spectacular style, Wynne now has the luxury of focusing on the former.

It's not something we've seen before but I'm sure we could get used to.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

The Post-Hudak PCs and Lessons for #onpoli

On the way home from a chat with some public servants and allies about behavioural economics, employee engagement and how to really motivate innovation in the public sector, I read this:
The one and only time Hudak budges; sadly, it has to come at the end.

Some reflections on the Star piece and lessons to be learned by the future PC leader, and their team, and all Political Parties:

Tim Hudak was never going to win.  If it hadn't been his promised job cuts, faulty math or whatnot, it would have been something else.  Good for him for being true to what he believed in, but what he had to offer was never going to be what Ontarians wanted.  Keep that in mind as you vote for your next leader.

Now, from the article itself:

Really?  I can't even begin to count how catastrophically bad an idea that was.

Just joking - of course I can.

Number one - have the Ontario Tories not read up on the Federal Tories' national occupational mental health standard?  Considered the whole OHRC respect for dignity thing?  What about basic behavioural economics and presenteeism?

If you promise to fire a bunch of public servants if you get elected, you send a massive chill throughout the entire public sector.  That's probably what the Tories wanted, but in terms of actual management, they would have killed what little morale was left, crushed what little innovation is already being ignored internally and reduced service quality to minimum.


It's simple - people who are afraid don't perform well, especially when it comes to customer service. They freeze up, they turn bitter and what they feel gets passed on to the end-user.  This is why smart leaders are taking employee engagement seriously.

Progressive Conservative MPP Randy Hillier, left, said "Every hour that (Tim Hudak) stays on will increase the fractiousness and the divisions between him and his caucus."
Number two - Ontarians would never have thought handing out a swath of pink slips to people for just doing their job was a good thing.  We might want justice when a couple of CEOs expense muffins, but it's an affront to our ethics to cut the livelihood of 200 people and make it a photo-op.  

Especially as a campaign tactic.  The message that gets sent is that with that guy in charge, nobody is safe - and he'll be happily dancing on the grave of each person who gets culled.

I could go on, but we've other pieces to cover.  The key question is - how did Hudak's brain trust ever think stuff like this was a good idea?

They aren't dumb.  This isn't their first kick at the can.  It's not that they don't care, either.  Clearly, they thought such moves were a good idea for a reason.

My guess is that they did one of two things, or possibly a combination of both:

1) they misjudged public opinion because they hadn't really consulted enough.

They wouldn't be alone in this.  Politics isn't about real consultation, after all - it's #DecideSellDefend, not #DiscussDecideDo.  Partisans message, do fundraisers with friendly audiences and above all, gravitate to the opinions that agree with their own.  Then they pick fights with those who disagree with them.

The problem is that when you only read the Sun because you agree with what it says, you start to think everyone else must feel the same way, except for a smattering of partisan opponent die-hards.  When you think most people agree with you, it's easy to dismiss opposition.  

Which is a grave mistake.  We'll come back to this later.

2) Hudak's braintrust built a campaign plan that was reflective of their leader.

This is a variation on the same theme.  Hudak is the poster-child of the audience the Sun wants to appeal to; by creating a campaign that works for him, they were digging their own grave.

Honestly, though, this isn't a bad thing.  Hudak ran a solid campaign that was reflective of his values. We'd all be better off if more political leaders followed his example.  

Call it the political free market - by honestly presenting their authentic vision, leaders and Parties provide voters with a choice.  If the voters don't like one choice, they don't have to pick it.  It's easy.

This is how democracy is supposed to work.

When leaders and Parties put the win before the policy, they bake in poison pills, issue platitudes or make commitments they not only can't deliver on, but aren't reflective of their priorities.  The result is the downward spiral of policy and civic engagement we're just really starting to twig on to now.

Take a look at @TalentCulture and #TChat on twitter for some conversation on why authenticity, engagement and actual communication (which implies listening and empathizing) matter.

With us or against us isn't leadership.  It leads to employees who are more committed to keeping the boss (or shareholders) happy than actually serving the end-users, which is all around a dumb idea.

I couldn't agree more.  This is why I like Wynne; it's why I also feel the time might be right for some of the structural changes that can only be achieved through collaboration.

Hillier, who has no leadership aspirations and isn't backing any challenger, said he and his caucus mates were "completely astonished and bewildered" at Hudak's stubbornness.

Good lord, why?  This is one of those times I wonder if I'm watching the same movie as everyone else is.  Hudak has always been stubborn; he's always acted in a delusionally confident, boss-like manner.  

If the PC caucus was astonished and bewildered, they shouldn't have been.  Hudak's been remarkably consistent.  

The question, again, is why?  Why did the PC caucus miss the obvious - and how can they avoid doing so again?

There is a way forward for the PCs, which is a good thing - we want as many perspectives in policy-making as possible.  They don't even need to stray from their core values of fiscal responsibility and conservation of resources.  

In fact, by promoting initiatives like open government and, say, district energy systems, they can even be innovative and progressively conservative.

Folks like me can present options and provide advice, but it's up to them to listen.  If they don't, well - they won't be able to blame Hudak any more, will they?

Leadership is about taking ownership - which, ultimately, is a lesson for all of us.

Why How Matters

Cannot agree with this more.

By the same token, change managers in multiple public services - don't ask your teams what they're going to do to be innovative; you're pressuring them into doing your job for you and penalizing them if they don't.  That's borderline discrimination and a definite contributor to public-sector burnout and presenteeism.

Instead, ask how might we address a problem.  Give your team ownership of the solution, not of the problem.  Empower them to think big, not defensive.

On that note, I'm off to chat with public servants about system change.  Later, all!

What Happened to the Social Gardener?

There is this amazing space in Little India that's been trying to open as a co-working space for years.  It's latest iteration was to be as The Social Gardener.  The website appears to be gone, but it's Twitter still exists, as does it's Facebook page.

Which includes some pictures that show why it's a shame this place sits empty, year after year:

Equity, not Equality - Culture Change, HR and the OPS

Wouldn't it be nice if the Ontario Public Service led by example on this front?

One can but dream.

Mental health and addiction disabilities

People with mental health or addiction disabilities experience impairment and barriers in different ways. Disabilities are often “invisible” and episodic, with people experiencing periods of wellness and periods of disability. All people with disabilities have the same rights to equal opportunities under the Code, whether their disabilities are visible or not.
People with addictions have the same right to be free from discrimination as other people with disabilities. There is often a cross-over between addictions and mental health disabilities, with many people experiencing both. The Code also protects people from discrimination because of past and perceived disabilities.
Example: A person is not hired as a teacher because many years ago, she had an alcohol addiction. This is discrimination based on disability.
- See more at: