Imagine a business culture in which all humanity is celebrated, none to the detriment of the other. Consider a leadership culture that encourages and supports everyone to bring and share their greatest gifts for the benefit of all. And consider a collaborative approach that enables meaningful cooperation and partnership in the achievement of a common goal. Envision also an open congenial atmosphere infused with vitality, creativity and joy enveloped in the company of a curious, caring and diverse community. On February 22, 2020, a group of us came close to achieving this revolutionary ideal. If only for a brief moment.
On that evening, I had the honour of being joined by sixty or more friends, associates and colleagues from outside and inside the civil service to mark my exit from the Ontario Public Service (OPS). Together they represented all levels of the organizational ladder. They came from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. In the room were people I had known since the onset of my public service career 28-years ago to individuals I came to know more recently. There were some present who were long retired from the OPS, while there were others who had only recently entered. All were known to me. However, they were not necessarily known to each other. Still, the camaraderie in the room was infectious, the energy electrifying.
It was an enchanting evening inspired by the images and words of iconic leaders, a celebratory evening of community building and art facilitated by Collaborative Artist Donna Johnson. Starting with an empty canvass, the goal was for everyone to “touch the canvass” and contribute as they see fit by whatever means or colours they choose within the prescribed parameters. The raw materials were available to everyone as they were encouraged to contribute to the best of their ability in keeping with their creative imagination and unique gifts. The mood was relaxed, open, dynamic and non-hierarchical as guests moved about the room, surmounting the silos that often separate strangers in public spaces. I am thankful to those who came. I learned a lot that night. Here are some of my takeaways: