One Deputy, One Problem, One Tool

The Practice Collection

One Deputy, One Problem, One Tool

In 2005 a group of 20 people gathered at the Lake Okanagan Resort outside of Kelowna for 4 days.

They were the first group of many to be invited to the Leading Learning Organizations (LLO) sessions to learn the curriculum of leadership and engagement tools and techniques developed and delivered by Bob Chartier.

The members of the group represented a broad spectrum of the diverse business of our Ministry

  • Forestry technicians
  • Human resources practitioners
  • Fire protection officers
  • District managers
  • Branch directors
  • Silviculture technicians
  • Geographic information systems personnel
  • Business improvement facilitators

On the 3rd day of the session our Deputy Minister joined us. Over dinner that night he told Yvonne about a problem he was wrestling with. He was scheduled to give a presentation to a delegation of forestry professionals and managers from China. He was to talk about how the Ministry was dealing with the mountain pine beetle epidemic and what was to be done with tens of thousands of cubic meters of the beetle-killed wood that was being salvaged and the 10s of millions of cubic meters that would be salvaged over the years to come.

He wasn’t happy with the material that had been prepared for him to deliver but he didn’t have a lot of time to do the revisions and editing to create the material that he wanted.

Yvonne came to the delivery team the next morning suggesting we change the agenda and do a Challenge Wall to help the Deputy with his problem.

No problem.

Less than an hour later the Deputy had dozens of ideas/suggestions and bullets for a new presentation. He took the ideas away – re-wrote the presentation and sent the members of the group a copy of his new material – so they could see he had taken their work seriously.

A few things happened as a result of that interaction:

The staff at the session had a sense of pride in being able to help the most senior person in a Ministry of close to 3,000 people

  • The deputy had a chance to see first-hand the intelligence (and humour) of a sampling of his staff
  • The Deputy’s support for the work the LLO community was doing was greater than before
  • An annoying problem was solved
  • A great story was born

I don’t think the best written business case or the most heartfelt testimonials could have provided the Deputy with greater assurance of the value of the work we were doing than that 1 hour, surrounded by his staff, who were focussed on his problem – armed with a powerful systems engagement tool.