A lesson in Kremlinology

Children and family development deputy minister Lesley du Toit is restructuring the restructuring process in her ministry - something she acknowledges could cause "further confusion." And she's working to free herself up from the day-to-day operations of the ministry so she can focus on that process by building "relationship, trust, inspiring, giving hope and carrying the 'big picture'." This, according, to an email obtained exclusively by Public Eye.

Back in June, Ms. du Toit announced the formation of a transformation team - which would be responsible for reforming the troubled ministry. But, four months later, the deputy writes "there has been some concern as to how the work of the transformation team would fold into the day to day work of the ministry." And she also notes there have been questions about "what the role" of the ministry's senior bureaucrats "would in fact be in transformation."

As a result, Ms. du Toit is roughly cutting in half the membership of the transformation team - whose roster was found to be too large and unwieldy. In practice, this should give the bureaucrats who belong to the team more of a say in the reform effort.

The email also notes that effort is being divided into two component parts. The first component involves changing the ministry's workplace culture and values. It is that "piece" which Ms. du Toit will "lead and put most of my energy into." And that means she'll take a "supportive rather than a direct" role in changing the way the ministry delivers its services. The following is a complete copy of the text of that email.

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TRANSFORMATION WORK
Sunday, October 06, 2006

TO: MCFD Leadership Team and Transformation Task Team

Dear Colleague

This note is about organizing the transformation work as apposed to transformation itself. Please be clear that I am not taking any steps back on transformation. It is important that this distinction is made and that people do not get the idea that transformation itself is changing or has taken a step back. Thank you for your participation in meetings so far and for being patient as I seek to address some important issues.

You will all be aware that since our last transformation task team meeting I have been thinking of making some changes to the way we approach the transformation work. After having discussions with as many of you as possible I want to communicate to you how we will be taking this process forward. My apology if this seems like further confusion.

It often takes 3-4 steps forward and then 1 back to make sense of things, so I guess this is one of those early steps back. I would rather question things now than have us feel even more confused at a later stage. I do feel that we have to have greater clarity to roles and responsibilities so that we can achieve our goals and make use of knowledge and skills effectively. I also believe we really need to know how we will approach this work and where we are headed. I'm not sure that I have been as helpful as I could in providing this clarification.

We have a relatively short time to accomplish a great deal and I want to be sure that we are headed in the right direction and that all who lead the transformation with me are working from a similar perspective, and recognize the need for change. I'm working on how I can free myself up more to really lead the transformation change management work and give a greater sense of direction to what we are going to do together in the next 4-5 years.

In talking with the leadership team it has also become clear that there has been some concern as to how the work of the transformation task team would fold into the day to day work of the ministry, and what the role of the leadership team and all the people they lead would in fact be in transformation. In my attempt to ensure that staff involved in day to day ministry work are not burdened with transformation as an add on, I seem to have created an impression (if not a situation) in which it appears as if we have two separate things happening as parallel processes - transformation being one, and ministry work the other.

To bring these two components closer together and have them integrate with one another I have reformulated the "groups" we have and how we will go about our work. The transformation work has two major components - one being the work of change management and the other being the change in the way we go about governing and delivering services.

Change management is basically about the "heads and hearts" work of facilitating, supporting, teaching, and guiding as change happens. Change management involves setting the strategic direction and managing people and processes as the strategic direction takes form and shape. This includes any of the organizational change in MCFD and the shift to regionalization with regard to aboriginal and non-aboriginal governance and services. Quite a chunk of this is relationship, trust, inspiring, giving hope and carrying the "big picture". This piece of the transformation work is represented below in dark pink. This is the piece I will lead and put most of my energy into with regard to transformation. Pat Doyle, the Director of SHR will assist me in leading this. In addition many of you will be drawn upon to support us in this work, especially the REDS. You will see from the diagram that this part of the work is the major component in the first 12 months and decreases as the years go on, to the point where it is no longer needed.

Change in service delivery This component involves leaderships and support in strengthening the good practices that exist and setting in place new practices and programs which support the strategic direction. It also involves leading processes of evaluating existing programs, testing new programs, resourcing, tools, standards, policy, quality assurance etc against the approach we are taking, and either strengthening implementation or redesigning/designing and then implementing. Research and piloting will be part of this component and change management. This is the piece represented by the light pink. This component of transformation will be led by the Transformation team, particularly ADM's and REDS. I will bring my experience and expertise in as needed but this will be a supportive rather than direct role, until the change management work has significantly decreased. This work will gradually increase, and then incrementally over the years this work will become the way the ministry does business, until eventually this is the way the ministry functions and transformation is completed.

The two components are not mutually exclusive. One impacts on the other throughout transformation. It is thus apparent that the transformation team structure should be changed. The concept and structure of the task team will be removed. There will be one team which oversees the integrated transformation work i.e. the entire square illustrated below. This will be the Transformation team.

TRANSFORMATION TEAM The new transformation team will include:

* MCFD leadership team
* Dan George, Sandra Griffen, Philip Cook, Brent Parfitt, Cindy Blackstock
* Audrey Lunquest, Stan Williams
* People representing other ministries and judiciary

The transformation team will be co-chaired with me by Philip Cook, Sandra Griffen, and Peter Cunningham.

MCFD TRANSFORMATION STAFF All transformation staff will be in the Reference Group, as will the Transformation team. The provincial office staff will remain within their program areas, reporting to their ADM's. They will be drawn upon for transformation work by their ADM's and/or myself. The Regional staff will of course remain in their regions and will be drawn upon to do transformation work in their region by the REDS and/or myself. This work will probably start slowly but will escalate as the months go on.

TRANSFORMATION WITH REGARD TO ABORIGINAL GOVERNANCE AND SERVICES In the next few weeks we will be working to try and define what the transformation work will look like with regard to this component. We do need to bring clarity to interface, roles and functions - particularly regarding Deb and her team, the broader Aboriginal Forum, MCFD Regions, and Regional Planning teams. Part of this is defining the difference between transformation and 'regionalization', and the relationship between the two. The date of the next Transformation Team meeting is 18th October. The Date of the first Transformation Reference Group will be the 19th October. Details will be sent to you through my office. Thank you for being patient with me on this. I look forward to meeting with you soon.

Lesley du Toit Deputy
Minister Children & Family Development

13 Comments

I think by now we all get the fact that there is someone in McFamilies who is obsessed with forwarding emails to you on the day to day goings on in that Ministry, but it is starting to get old.

This looks more and more like your sources are drying up and this McFamilies leak is a one trick pony show.

A few points:

-if leading the tranformation involves "relationship, trust, inspiring, giving hope and carrying the big picture" why is Ms. du Toit leading it. To my mind, she doesn't appear to have engendered any of these qualities so far.

-"It often takes 3-4 steps forward and then 1 back to make sense of things, so I guess this is one of those early steps back." Is she kidding? This is a system in crisis and numerous reports, reviews etc. over the last 4 years has called for the need to stabalize the system. It cannot afford "4 steps forward and one back" while Ms. du Toit plays "transformation". The children and families of BC can't afford it.

-The only thing Ms. du Toit appears to have accomplished since her appointment is to come up with a few cliches, create confusions within the system and waste a lot of dollars that could go to services and families. How much is all this costing the taxpayers? These are funds that could go directly to services for vulnerable children and families.

It is time for Ms. du Toit to go.

Yes, off with her head! That will help produce the perfect system, where no child will be harmed. The collapse of the family will thus be overcome.

I think Lesley du Toit's email can be summed up like this: 'We're making this up as we go along - I now realize I'm in over my head... when more kids die I will have effectively separated myself from being responsible.'

Transformation as well as Pinks and Reds...sounds very revolutionary to me!

I wonder if she has checked with the Deputy Minister to the Premier.

I wonder if she has checked with the person who hired her - our "glorious" leader - our all knowing Premier.

"This note is about organizing the transformation work as apposed (sic)to transformation itself. Please be clear that I am not taking any steps back on transformation. It is important that this distinction is made and that people do not get the idea that transformation itself is changing or has taken a step back."

Huh!

This is very sad and need not have happened.

Lesley looks like she is way in over her head. The Premier should be ashamed of himself for personally hiring her and thereby, putting her in a position, in my opinion, she could not handle.

But I forgot, he is a man with no shame!

Good grief! That's it right there folks--why this Ministry is in constant chaos.

Now we're restructuring the restructuring? Again! (For about the 6th time in 5 years, I might add). And after 5 years of failed transformation, the solution is more of the same, with the Ministry leadership setting up camp in anticipation of another 4-5 years of chaos?!

How can they ever solve the actual problems that MCFD is mandated to address if the entire leadership is constantly preoccupied with top-down, ideologically-driven change: leading change, planning change, developing and redeveloping visions of change, designing change strategies, doing change management, changing "cultures and values", implementing change, changing the change process...especially when, as the Deputy has previously decreed, they don't want to hear about problems, just the positive stuff.

What will it take to "stop the endless bureaucratic restructuring", as the Premier promised way back in 2000, and to simply focus on delivering better services that help children and families actually resolve problems? Now there's a concept. Has MCFD ever tried that? Amazingly--No!

Why not? Because as long as everyone is preoccupied with change itself, it distracts attention from and provides an excuse for the Ministry's failure to support its own front line staff, the families and children whom they struggle to assist, and the problems they need help to cope with.

Keep it coming, Sean & kudos to the brave bureaucrats behind this! For those who say this is an impossible Ministry to run successfully, you're demonstrating exactly why it appears cursed to perpetual chaos and failure.

If staff in that ministry are breaking their oath of confidentiality, they aren't doing it to get even. They are doing it because they are frustrated with the lack of leadership. The list of who gets the little gems from the deputy don't include the lower rankers as far as I can figure out. So always shoot the messenger seems to be the opinion of the poster Kevin Larson. Ted Hughes was pretty clear about continuity. The need for someone to keep an eye on things. But of course that person has yet to be put in place because three Liberal backbenchers are really really busy.So the deputy keeps writing memos to fill in the time ,it would appear

DSteele asked:

"How can they ever solve the actual problems
that MCFD is mandated to address if the entire leadership is
constantly preoccupied with top-down,
ideologically-driven change:"

To which, in response, I feel I must ask:

"Where is the evidence that they actually wish to solve actual problems that MCFD is mandated to address?"

.

Hughes was clear.....he called for continuity and stability. He insisted that the endless reorganizations stop. This so called "expert" from South Africa seems to be ignoring his advice. The premier needs to give his head a shake....stop interfering and let the Minister appoint his own deputy.

Indeed, I think it is time for du Toit to go back to South Africa She seems to be in WAY over her head. I have never seen the environment at MCFD more poisoned, confused and paranoid and staff more concerned. She talks the talk very well but as for walking the walk ........ MCFD needs a leader who does more than talk, understands what real leadership is and who practices it.

Why is it anyone thought this latest import would turn things around? She was hand-picked by Gordon Campbell, presumably under the same Order in Council system responsible for putting some party hacks into senior cabinet offices just as BC Rail was being offered to the, er..highest bidder.

Listen, this is not just another political football to be punted back and forth until the media and, maybe even the electorate, decides somebody has won because they have put up the most points on the electronic scoreboard.

Why?

Because there are real people that MCFD is mandated to help who are not being helped.

And that is the point that people like Ted Hughes as well as folks in the trenches like Dawn Steele have tried their best to make.

In my case, I used to volunteer with a small, barebones organization that helped hundreds of families per year.....the past tense is intentional.....it is now gone....sure, we struggled for more than two years after surviving the actions of Doug Walls, Gordon Hogge, Christy Clark and Gordon Campbell et al. that ultimately cut off all our funding from MCFD....We had one fulltime social worker, a part-time Admin, a handful of students on practicums, a cluster of hardcore volunteers, and help from local churches, community groups and businessess.....In other words, we were a lean, mean helping machine....and all we cost the gov't was $30K a year (about half our budget)....In the end we just couldn't make it work anymore because we couldn't keep asking our staff to do more and more while we paid them less and less.

Now, please do not make the mistake of concluding that this was an isolated case. They did this to everybody because their constant 'restructuring was a never ending centralization/privatization 'service delivery' strategy all over entire province.

So, personally, I don't give a hoot in hell if some upper level administrator is sending Emails to her minions in the middle of the night.

This means less than nothing to me because she is being paid, and paid well, to restructure the restructuring of something that needs to stop the organizational pretzelizing and just start doing what it is mandated to do. Towards that end, I'm quite certain that this administrator's compensation package could be used to reconstitute 5, or maybe even 10, organizations of the type that I just described.

OK?

.

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