According to Kieran Harrop, Director, Business Engagement, Strategic Initiatives, Government of British Colombia (a Canadian province), "open government risk aversion is one of government's greatest risks".
A quick environmental scan reveals that the majority of governments in Canada (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal), and indeed the world, are resisting the movement to open government, wrote Kieran Harrop at Government in the Lab.
Last week, at Edgeryders, a discussion about open government models with experimental philosopher Michel Filippi opened the door to explore behaviors and factors that lead individuals (such as government officials and managers) in a locking process. In French, Michel Filippi calls it «verrouillage».
"Someone who does not change its mode of action should first be referred by a model. Here, for example, one could refer to the "cognitive locking process". Cognitive scientists have shown that when a player is locked into a spot, nothing external to the situation can enter its cognitive system. Therefore, a government officer that does not change his leadership style could be locked onto a task. Now, if we agree, this model has taught us something more about the situation described, than what was known previously. This is an example of beginning of exploration that could be undertaken (at Edgeryders).We hear more and more, that government institution have become largely irrelevant and increasingly impotent. I came to think that it is not sufficient for government officials and managers to understand the benefits of open government. They must also change their leadership model. How can there be transparency if corruption is slyly deeply infiltrated in a government, or if a culture of silence weighs on all shoulders? How can we claim to participation, if the government people are not listening, are disconnected from themselves and from citizens? How can we hope to cooperate when some officials are so arrogant and condescending, have the angry switch permanently on, that they make us want to escape by running in the opposite direction? It's hard to get away from a certain rage-against-the-darkness feeling. Government institutions are caught in a spiral, the more degraded they becomes, the harder it is to rally people to its defence.
By starting to collect information on what is "irritating", we draw the first step of a design process. We can ask ourselves: What do I know about this particular object that I have designated as "irritating"? Then, we can go one step further by asking what knowledge irritants have, what they are, how are they used, on which "objects", etc. When we increase the creation of knowledge, we have an early model", explained Michel Filippi.
Another problem is that MPs often end up with a job with no meaningful responsibilities. If there can be a way to treat MPs as somebodies, they will no longer be content to be nobodies. And they might in turn treat citizens as somebodies. If citizens are appreciated and respected, it could lead to a constructive climate of collaboration, in an open government model.
There are brave attempts to reverse these dynamics, but it is not enough. I am afraid it will take much more than that. Various reforms depend on people in the higher spheres being willing to buck the status quo. Can we come across the sort of officials likely to rock the boat, challenge "locking processes", and propose new leadership models?
Can Edgeryders participants explore together, and gather information about risk aversion and locking processes? I believe they can!