August 22, 2017

Moving a mountain.

The question I get most from people when I tell them I work in government is undoubtedly one of speed:

Everything moves so slowly, and there’s so much red tape—how can you stand it?”

My stock answer is that things don’t move as slowly as people think, and that the bureaucracy isn’t stifling and actually quite easy to navigate. The better answer, one that I give when I have time to explain more fully, is that working in the public service allows me to do work that has tangible, positive impact on the people around me; that being a public servant means making a difference in someone’s life every day, even if we don’t immediately or directly see that difference.

Ryan Androsoff has been working hard to make the Canadian Digital Service a reality for years—working in the digital space, on and off, in the Ontario government for the past decade has made me realize just how challenging it can be to create that kind of change—and recently shared a beautiful rumination on his journey now that the CDS has finally launched.

Among the things he writes about is the reward of working in government, and creating change in our public service:

Trying to transform an organization as large and complex as government is not for the faint of heart or for those lacking in patience or perseverance. As the saying goes, if it was easy it would have been done already. […]

As a friend once memorably said to me during one of those more difficult moments along the journey, you don’t work in government because of the speed of the impact you will have. You do it because of the scale of the impact you can have. You are trying to push on a mountain, and you may only be able to move it an inch — but — you’ve moved a mountain an inch.

Like Ryan, I believe that the work I’m doing in the Ontario Digital Service will have immense impact—slowly, but surely—on the lives of the people around me. Because of that, I’ll continue to spend my days trying to move a mountain, inch by inch.