Collaboration Tips

CW Blogger




Links & Bibliography

Contact Us

CW Blogger

see more CWA blogs here:


Terror and Fear in an Interconnected World, Thursday, November 06, 2014


… There is much so much more that people all over the world share in common than separates them in differences. If we want to truly eliminate fear and terrorism, then we need to find more ways to create ‘we’. Today we have the tools to accomplish this like never before.  They are, in fact, the same tools that are generating the added fear in the first place -- the internet, social media, computers, telecommunications. Future heroes will be those with the courage to destroy fear by destroying the differences which artificially separate us and by bringing those differences, and us, together as creative partners. (more)


Aligning Words and Deeds. Saturday, March 29, 2014

I believe Minister Baird’s comments reflect a clear understanding of the changing landscape of government. What I don’t understand, however, is that given that understanding, why what’s apparently good and true for international affairs, is not equally good and true for national affairs.

A marketplace of ideas certainly exists in Canada but for all intents and purposes the Government seems intent on turning it into a monopoly. A country as large and diverse as Canada will always have, to its strength, a broad mix of ideas and adherents to those ideas. Successful democratic governments embrace that diversity and build on it, seeing the validity of each and teasing out of their combination that whole which is more than the sum of the parts. In so doing, a democratic government is representative of all, not just the champion of one group’s dominance over others. Yet today's federal Government seems uncomfortable with diversity, preferring the certainty of ideological answers over the uncertainty of having to learn from others. How can you be a leader if you don't have the answer?

This Canadian marketplace of ideas is certainly public – more so with each passing day – yet the Government goes to inordinate lengths to stifle the flow of information, to obstruct the creation of new information that it finds inconvenient, and discredit alternative points of view. Its obsession with message control, its disdain for science, and its predisposition for negative advertising do not reflect what the Minister feels should be the case internationally. (more...)

The Future of Canadian Politics, Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It is not much of a stretch to suggest that the ‘pressing concerns’ in the Throne Speech were chosen as a focus for the Government largely because it actually has some control over implementing them. The Throne Speech is illuminating therefore from the perspective of what the federal government sees as a doable challenge, even more so than presenting ‘feel good’ messages to the ‘middle class’ in preparation for the next election. Yet if this reflects what the Government sees as doable, then the Throne Speech is indeed quite sad. It depicts a government that has been so thoroughly emasculated that it can not focus on any issues of consequence to Canadians.

What the Throne Speech reveals is a timid government, one that won’t take on tough issues because there is no promise of an easy return. These tough issues are the ‘wicked problems’ where the required solutions usually involve many steps, lots of players, reconciling multiple perspectives, more and different resources, and various sources of power and authority. The Government is sidestepping these complex concerns because they are too unpredictable, with all sorts of undesirable political risks…(more…)

ICTs Will Make Governments Unrecognizable by Today's Standards,Thursday, June 20, 2013

...If people can self organize using the internet to produce collective goods and services (think MOOCs and education) what will be the new role of government? If we can finally give up on the notion of privacy because perfect privacy is neither technically feasible nor socially desirable, then how can we protect ourselves against the harms that may befall us from individuals, organizations and governments who try to use technology against us while remaining anonymous? If we democratize knowledge and enable everyone with very sophisticated technology, how do we protect ourselves from those very few disturbed individuals who just want to do others harm simply because they can? ... (more)

A Whole New Era of Citizenship, Saturday, April 06, 2013

...To make themselves more electable, political parties have increasingly focused on marketing leaders rather than the retailing of ideas. Since the time of Ronald Reagan, political parties have recognized that the public voted for the man not the policy (a behaviour described by Nobel winning economist Daniel Kahneman). The voting challenge isn’t therefore to push the best ideas but to push an image of a person who would be seen as most likable by a plurality of voters. If voters could be assured that the candidate was “like them” then they could be comfortable with the candidate making all sorts complex decisions on their behalf. Reagan was so successful at this that people voted for him despite the fact they didn’t like his policies. This focus on the party leader also shifted attention away from individual MPs and MPPs to an extent that Trudeau (senior) once commented that “the only job of an MP is to get elected”. So politics is no longer about a “basket of ideas” or “the team” but the personalities of individual party leaders in much the same way as reality TV.

So here is the problem. With so much of politics now being dominated by individual leaders, what happens when leadership itself, as a class, becomes increasingly undermined and loses its luster... (more)

When Leadership Doesn't Work? Monday, October 08, 2012

What do you do when the traditional leadership approach just doesn't seem to work?

That is, when as a leader you don't own or control all the knowledge, information, resources or power to achieve your intents. You can't achieve what you want by yourself and so you decide to work with others to achieve your goals. But that means you're no longer in charge. So how do you manage the coordination challenge in that type of environment? ... (more)

In conversation with Toby Fife Monday, September 24, 2012

Join me in conversation with Toby Fife, editor of Canadian Government Executive magazine, August 2012 during the IPAC annual conference in St. John's, NFLD 21 on 21 August 2012.

Let's update our language of leadership, March 25, 2012

For some time now, the concept of leadership become increasingly more nuanced and varied. At one time leadership meant something related to command and control authority in a military style hierarchy where leadership was the product of being ‘right’ more times than being ‘wrong’. In the last 20 years, however, we’ve heard about visionary leadership, servant leadership, collaborative leadership, bureaucratic leadership, leadership by example, charismatic leadership, democratic leadership, autocratic leadership, narcissistic leadership, and transformative leadership just to name a few. In today’s world where governance is widely distributed, is leadership really the appropriate term for what is required to coordinate and move organizations forward? (more)

Creating a new metaphor for a new economy, August 22, 2011
As David Korten writes in YES magazine,"Story power is the ultimate power. Authentic stories liberate the human consciousness, build immunity to cultural manipulation, and give us the courage and insight to create a world of peace and prosperity for all. The messages of the new economy are spreading through countless conversations are challenging the false claims of the old economy culture. The new stories are all about our creativity, inter-connectedness, mass collaboration, and our seemingly limitless collective potentiality. (more...)

Mechanisms of Health Care Reform, July 9, 2011

On Tuesday June 7th, Maclean’s magazine, the Canadian Medical Association and CPAC hosted an open dialogue on health care at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. It was entitled: Health Care in Canada: Time to Rebuild Medicare.

Despite the obvious lack of political appetite for change, participants at the Macleans event were much more pragmatic about the prospect of change and suggested that we focus on how to make things better given the existing legislation. “Could we make use of an amending formula to make adjustments to the Canada Health Act like they do with US Constitution?”, asked one participant. If the major outlines won’t change, then are there smaller, less controversial avenues we can pursue?

To this I would say that there are. In fact, there are several things that might be done to begin shifting the system in a new, more responsive and sustainable direction. I offer three such mechanisms for change below. They include adding a preamble to the Canada Health Act; moving to incentivize change through the application of flat fees for services; and the institution of individual health accounts. (more...)

Identity Politics, April 14, 2011

Re: Identity politics can get complicated, by Elizabeth Payne in the Ottawa Citizen 14 April 2011

I just wanted to expand upon Ms. Payne’s important comments regarding identity politics.

There is a popular myth that people vote based on a party’s platform or the capability of a candidate. Study after study of voter behaviour over many years has show this just isn’t so. Voters don’t vote rationally like that. In fact, key election issues tend to be too complex and evolving for voters to understand them, let alone the solutions that might be offered by opposing candidates. Just ask Kim Campbell!

After decades of study in this area noted political scholar Daniel Kahneman recently commented to the New York Times that, “The fashion of political writing … is to suggest that people choose their candidate by their stand on the issues, but this strikes me as highly implausible.”

The Decline of the House of Commons, March 05, 2011

As Jeff Simpson once observed, we have allowed our elected leaders to become “friendly dictators”. The people we elect to Parliament no longer represent us to government but they represent the government to us. Since the time of Trudeau, the House of Commons has been stripped of its primary authority for approving annual budgets by the imposition of time limits for debate and the process of ‘deeming’ budgets to ensure their approval should debate take too long. The practice of padding the budget with all sorts of extraneous legislation in omnibus bills demonstrates a further erosion of respect for Parliament and its authority. Governments no longer seem capable of representing even a majority of Canadians, let alone Canada as a whole. They are content to merely represent the largest special interest group. We have allowed Parliament to drift into irrelevancy at just the time when we need it the most as the country’s foremost forum for public dialogue.

The Face-to-Face Complexity of eHealth & Knowledge Exchange, November 24, 2010

Blog post on Christopher's presentation to Public Health Agency's Knowledge Exchange forum, entitled  "Finding the Middle Ground in a Spectrum of Collaboration"

Cavoukian rightly warns but more privacy isn’t the solution, 23 August 2010

Policy makers should take heed of the warning from the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner that personal information is already flowing so freely on the Internet and technology is advancing at such a pace that privacy rights legislation “can no longer keep up”... I may be in the minority but I’ll say it anyway. Privacy isn’t the solution. It is the problem.


see more CWA blogs here:

Selected Archived Blogs

Post Secondary Education in Canada, 11 February 2010

Response to Sibley's "Trust Us On This", The Ottawa Citizen April 11, 2009

A Failure of Citzenship? August 5, 2008

What We Need is More Democracy Not Less    Friday, May 09, 2008

Chalk River: How to Turn a Victory for Democracy into a Tawdry Political Episode   Mon., January 28, 2008

Encouraging Lifelong Learning, 3 May 2006

Grappling with PrivacyJune 2003