Decorative photo of Toronto City Hall

Leading Through COVID-19 with Ilona Dougherty: How other sectors can best work with government in times of crisis

5 minute read

Id Engage

In IOG’s latest live webcast, Leading Through COVID-19 #leadingthroughC19, IOG President Toby Fyfe interviewed Managing Director of the Youth and Innovation Project at the University of Waterloo, Ilona Dougherty. Dougherty discussed how government can engage other sectors in order to drive innovation, leverage expertise, and inform future policies and programs. With a focus on youth engagement, Dougherty used her knowledge and experience to share key ideas for government to consider in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Dougherty stressed the importance of building relationships with experts in sectors outside government, and how that must begin long before a crisis hits. She suggested that the best way to engage others is by listening and being open to the expertise they can bring, “It’s often folks outside of government who are the experts in a certain domain, so a willingness to listen and engage with experts and to support those experts in navigating the system [must exist] so that really innovative programs and policy can be implemented.” She also noted that this collaborative work should be relational, not simply transactional, in order to make a greater impact long-term.

Id Better

With a long history of working in youth engagement, social innovation, and entrepreneurship, Dougherty is poised as a thought leader when it comes to successful intergenerational collaboration between government and other sectors. This knowledge and experience has allowed her to provide advice on how government can best work specifically with youth to drive innovation. With the current crisis in mind, she stated, “Moments of crisis are moments of opportunity. Covid-19 is not the great equalizer, it’s the great revealer of inequality — of what’s not working. We need new ideas, and young people’s brains are literally wired to come up with those bold solutions and bold ideas, but they can only do it in intergenerational collaboration — we need all of us, but we need to be working together.”

She suggested that government should include Canada’s diverse youth population at all levels, and how that can help us recover from this crisis. “Engaging young people meaningfully in policy development is not just about young people, it’s about intergenerational collaboration in the context of policy development. How can we tap into the young public servants, listen to their ideas and their perspectives in the context of this crisis, and have them help us reimagine what Canada and the world should look like in the context of this recovery?” She continued, “Young people are the innovation engine of society and the innovation engine of our institutions, so the ideas of young people should be infused in every conversation about moving forward.”

Id Encourage

In closing, Dougherty spoke to the larger issues at hand that we must consider post-Covid-19, such as the intergenerational social contract. She noted, “Through our research [at the University of Waterloo] we’ve really come to the conclusion that adulthood no longer equals stability, and that’s the reality we’re all living in, so we need to rewrite the social contract — the intergenerational social contract. How do we support those who are elderly who are towards the end of their lives, and how at the same time do we support those who are at the beginning of their careers? Those are big conversations and I really believe that Covid-19 has amplified those intergenerational inequalities, and if we don’t take this opportunity to really thoughtfully think through what intergenerational support really looks like, I think we’ll have missed an opportunity.”

Thank you to Ilona Dougherty for joining us on the Leading Through COVID-19 Webcast. Join us for our next webcast, this Thursday, May 28th at 12:30 PM EST where IOG President Toby Fyfe will be speaking with Kate Moran, President and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada, about “Leadership Lessons During a Disaster”.

S285 Sas100 K

This webcast series is brought to you with the support of SAS. Together, we can make a difference with passion, expertise and technology. Click here to learn more about SAS COVID-19 Response in this resource hub.

Decorative photo of the Supreme Court

Governance and Risk in a Post-Covid World

1 minute read

Many Canadians might see the COVID lockdown as the biggest exercise in risk management our government has ever conducted. And some, weighing the enormous cost, might say it’s also our most risk-averse.

But it ain’t necessarily so. Most of us have neither the scientific capacity to measure the risk to human lives under various “lockdown” scenarios, nor a personal desire to weigh those risks against the economic and human costs of shutting things down. We seem largely willing to leave that to the experts and glad that governments have mostly relied on their advice.

But the very fact that there’s been a careful calculus under multiple scenarios means this isn’t a case of simple risk aversion. And in that sense it’s a model for a better, risk-smart approach for governments in a post-COVID world.

Most governments believe they already weigh risks carefully, while most observers believe governments (including public servants) are highly risk averse. But government risk management is arguably driven more by culture than by calculus. Certain risks loom large on the radar screen and are over-managed (hint, those for which officials might be blamed), while some existential risks (like long-term obsolescence) can go largely unnoticed. In general, risks of “commission” are avoided while risks of “omission” get missed, and the status quo seems a lot less risky than it really is.

Oversight and control systems are particular candidates for risk-smart overhauls. If a renewed, nimbler (and possibly smaller) public service emerges from the COVID crisis, it will need to put a robust risk lens on almost everything it does.

Decorative photo of Parliament Hill

Policy Crunch Recap – The Future of Digital Governance in a Post-Pandemic World – May 5, 2020

1 minute read

On May 5th IOG held its first ever fully virtual Policy Crunch event. Appropriately, the topic for the evening was “the future of digital governance in a post-pandemic world”. We had a fascinating group of experts join us for the online panel: Jaimie Boyd (Government of BC), David Eaves (Harvard), Shingai Manjengwa (Fireside Analytics & Vector Institute), and Jesse Hirsh (, with IOG’s Director of Digital Leadership Ryan Androsoff moderating. A lot was covered in an hour, but here are some key issues that surfaced through the discussion:

– The rapid move to digital services, online work, and even digitally empowered democracy is opening up new possibilities, but also the very real risk of leaving some citizens behind. Particularly some of the most vulnerable and those living in remote communities who can’t always take connectivity for granted in the same way that the 80% of Canadians who live in urban areas do. Digital inclusion is more important than ever now.

– As part of the solution to address the digital inclusion gap, efforts to improve digital skills at all levels must become a public policy priority: in schools, in government, amongst seniors, and across all sectors of society.

– Governments that already had strong digital teams and had established good digital practices (i.e. user-centered research, agile and open source software development) are doing the best in adapting to the digital service demands that they have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s tough to learn fundamentally new ways of working in the midst of a crisis!

– Expect to see AI increasingly incorporated into the health care sector given the ongoing pressures it will be facing. This is going to pose real issues around how these technologies are regulated in sensitive sectors, and government and industry should find ways to collaborate on the responsible use of these tools.

– There are very real privacy concerns about the use of digital technology (i.e. contact tracing apps) to fight the pandemic. There appears to be significant public support and potential public health benefits, but policy makers must figure out how to ensure appropriate protections and limits, and civil society needs to hold them accountable.

Our next Virtual Policy Crunch will be held on June 2nd on the topic of energy transitions; you can sign up for it here.

Watch the panel portion of the crunch below!

Decorative photo of St. John's Harbour

Leading Through COVID-19 :Procurement Case Study with Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister, PSPC

5 minute read

Bm Web Sports

In IOG’s latest live webcast, Leading Through COVID-19 #leadingthroughC19, Deputy Minister of PSPC, Bill Matthews, reflected on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on procurement and offered key leadership lessons. Interviewed by IOG President Toby Fyfe, Matthews discussed how the ability to adapt is essential, as is focusing on your team, and embracing new ways of working.

Public Services and Procurement had to adjust quickly when the coronavirus hit. What this meant was adjusting to new ways of working as well as streamlining processes. Said Matthews, “everyone in the department has been impacted in one way or another as we buttress our procurement team on PPE and other things while keeping the core business going”. Competition came heavily into play. Matthews continued, “This level of competition is not one I’d certainly seen in procurement. There may have been aspects in the past, when you think about global efforts in times of war — on the one hand, you’ve got some allies out there, but you’re basically all competing for the same goods and you’re trying to stand up domestic capacity to reduce that level of competition, but because of that, the message here is to adapt.”

And adapt they did — starting with their daily communications. “A good part of us public servants like to write what we think are perfect memos that articulate all the issues — there was no time for that — so a lot of decision-making was done by email. Getting that all down on paper is key so you have a record, but you realize the value of trusting the people around you, so it is a trust game.”

Bm Web Telework

Trust only works when you have a good team, something Matthews knows well. “The theme here is people. I think in times of crisis people may want to take on more themselves, but it’s absolutely more and more about your team, and having a team you can trust. I’m thankful everyday that I’ve got a great team here.”

However, your team is only as good as the tools at their disposal. Matthews stressed this focusing on the importance of keeping records, “Finding the right way to document things without information getting buried is the key here. It’s one thing to say we’re going to work remotely, it’s one thing to say we’ve got all good VPN access, but do we have the right tools in place to let people do their jobs well?”

Bm Web Remote

In closing, Matthews offered his thoughts on the future of workspaces, “We’ve got a number of different workplaces at play right now in the federal government — many public servants are still in traditional cubicle spaces, we’ve got Workplace 2.0 in some areas and we have shared spaces with no assigned seating and the collaborative or drop-in spaces — so there is a lot of debate around that. What I would tell you going forward is, we’re going to have to factor in more mobile working. I think we’ve proven that we can work remotely.”

Thank you to Bill Matthews for joining us on the Leading Through COVID-19 Webcast. Join us for our next webcast, this Thursday, May 21st at 12:30 PM EST where IOG President Toby Fyfe will be speaking with Ilona Dougherty. Governments have needed the help of other sectors and demographics to meet their goals during the pandemic. In this session, we will explore how the other sectors, and especially youth, can best work with governments in times of crisis. Ilona Dougherty founded Apathy is Boring, and is now at the University of Waterloo and a member of the Global Fellowship for Public Purpose

S285 Sas100 K

This webcast series is brought to you with the support of SAS. Together, we can make a difference with passion, expertise and technology. Click here to learn more about SAS COVID-19 Response in this resource hub.

Decorative photo of Shaw Centre

Leading Through COVID-19: Healthcare Case Study with Greg Horne, Global Principal, Health Care, SAS

4 minute read

How does data help change outcomes?

How does it help build a better healthcare system?

How will it help us predict the future?

How do we use more data to optimize resources?

In IOG’s latest live webcast, Leading Through COVID-19 #leadingthroughC19, Greg Horne posed these and other key questions for our listeners to ponder. As Global Principal of Health Care at SAS, Greg is a thought leader in healthcare strategy and an expert at providing valuable insights to questions such as these. Interviewed by IOG President Toby Fyfe, Greg discussed how data can be analyzed and applied to the current COVID-19 crisis, and what the future might bring to us as patients, and our country as a whole.

Gh Web Past

Greg began by highlighting the value of healthcare data that has been collected in the past, and how it has been used thus far to analyse the health system and its performance. Presently, during the Covid-19 crisis, he is “starting to see more people saying — how does my data help me change outcomes? How does it help me build a better healthcare system, and how does it help me predict all kinds of things that will be thrown at me in the future?

He explained that in order to learn from the coronavirus and apply it to improving our healthcare system, “it really is about understanding processes, plans for care, and applying data to those things to ensure that we deliver care that follows a very structured approach.” He noted that we need to take a look at our current processes so that we can take this opportunity to improve. He continued,”If we were optimizing our healthcare system just as something we do all the time, it would really help us with these crises when they hit us.”

Greg also stressed Canada’s role in assessing the crisis by looking inward, “we can’t just necessarily rely on what other countries have done — we need to apply local knowledge to everything we do.”

Using acute conditions versus chronic conditions as an example, he went on to analyze our healthcare system’s strengths and weaknesses from a cost perspective. He explained, “In Canada we have a phenomenally good healthcare system for dealing with acute conditions, (heart attacks, strokes, accidents).We do less well with chronic conditions — and the chronic conditions are what cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, and there is a lot of involvement between patient and physician. We know from looking at modeling in healthcare in general, the highest quality healthcare and the safest healthcare is actually the cheapest healthcare — so often, we can actually drive better outcomes by spending less money than if we spend more.”

Gh Web Future

Post-Covid-19, he went on to emphasize what he predicts will be a major health-related factor — mental health — and how virtual care may help streamline service and delivery of mental health services. “One of the things that’s going to be a big issue for us in Canada as a result of this crisis is going to be a big uptick in mental health requirements and mental health needs. We already know that our mental health delivery has not always been up to standard, but certainly with virtual care, we can really accelerate a lot of the ability to treat and understand people’s problems who don’t need to be in a hospital but do need to have a medical consult.”

In closing, Greg asked what he saw as the big “takeaway” question — “how do we use more data to optimize resources?” He went on to analyse further, “if we can utilize predictive tools to understand that, when the next crisis comes along we won’t necessarily need to lock down the whole economy — we can be much more smart and understanding of areas where we need to focus our effort, and therefore we can keep some of those other healthcare, economic and education needs running while we only focus on lockdowns in places that are really in need of it.”

Thank you to Greg Horne for joining us on the Leading Through COVID-19 Webcast. Join us for our next webcast, this Thursday, May 14th at 12:30 PM EST where IOG President Toby Fyfe will be speaking with Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Bill Matthews, who will be sharing his leadership lessons and visions for the future.

S285 Sas100 K

This webcast series is brought to you with the support of SAS. Together, we can make a difference with passion, expertise and technology. Click here to learn more about SAS COVID-19 Response in this resource hub.

Decorative photo of Fall Ottawa

Leadership Lessons from Gilles Rivard, Former Ambassador to Haiti

4 minute read

Gr Web Marathon

Continuing our ongoing coverage of the IOG’s webcast series, Leading Through COVID-19 #leadingthroughC19, on April 30th, IOG President Toby Fyfe interviewed Gilles Rivard, a retired foreign service officer who held a number of ambassadorial positions throughout his career.

M. Rivard was Ambassador to Haiti in 2010 when the earthquake hit, and he had to lead his team effectively in order to deal with the aftermath of this crisis, which included managing the evacuation of 6,400 people and assisting in the aid Canada delivered.

For a more detailed version of the events in Haiti from the 2010 earthquake, we recommend watching the webcast, in which M. Rivard speaks to his real, on-the-ground experience: how he ensured his team’s safety; how were the evacuations handled; the role and influence of Ottawa; what was it like working with other governments and NGOs.

In addition to telling his personal story of the events that unfolded in 2010, M. Rivard also offered key leadership lessons when leading a team during a crisis.

He focused on the value of honest and direct communication with your team when handling a crisis. “When you manage a team in a crisis, you have to communicate, and you have to share the good news and the bad news.” He continued, “You have to establish trust so that you’re going to be able to make some mileage together in dealing with the crisis — that’s the key.”

He stressed that the team will be looking to its leader to see his or her reaction, “they are looking at you very carefully — even if you feel a lot of stress, it’s not that you cannot share that with them, but they need to feel that you are in control of the situation.”

Gr Web Delegate

A focus on the personal aspect of the team was also present during M. Rivard’s discussion with the IOG. He mentioned the importance of prioritizing people first — “when you ask your people in a situation like that to do something, you have to make sure that these people know that their family is safe first, and this is the most important thing, because if you don’t secure their family they will never be able to focus a hundred percent on the situation.”

This same focus can also be applied to the current Covid-19 crisis. He continued, “I think it’s a very good recipe for long-term success, because a crisis like this is not a sprint — it’s a marathon, and if you start running hard, you will never see the end of it.”

He continued, comparing the two crises, “…it’s exactly the same thing with the pandemic at this moment — it’s not a crisis that can be fixed within two days, it takes six weeks at least to evacuate all the people that need to be evacuated, so you have to take time to rest.”

In closing, M. Rivard shared some key leadership lessons for our listeners to ponder:

  • Take your time to rest – tell your people to rest.
  • The safety, security and mental health of your team should be your top priority.
  • Use your resources – get the support you need.
  • Trust your people to do their job right – delegation is essential.
  • Take your time to breathe, relax.
  • Listen to the needs of your team early and often.

Thank you to Gilles Rivard for joining us on the Leading Through COVID-19 Webcast. Join us every Thursday at 12:30PM EST as we talk with Leaders from across Canada.

S285 Sas100 K

This webcast series is brought to you with the support of SAS. Together, we can make a difference with passion, expertise and technology. Click here to learn more about SAS COVID-19 Response in this resource hub.