Reader Response to SME’s Once Again Voice Concerns Over GoC Shared Services Strategy

Posted on February 27, 2008


Reader Comment

Let me suggest a couple of perspectives on this that are worth exploring further. While I believe that on the integrated hardware, software and telecomms aspects there can be little doubt that SMEs will be squeezed out unless they can deliver product under a major supplier’s umbrella. However, on the people side, PWGSC has been using small contracting companies to supplement their staff – some with long-term contracts. I guess the question is, is this the most viable approach?

And the second point is – is this a boondoggle in the making? My understanding is that departments are not falling over themselves to buy in to this initiative. But they have to subscribe, at least on paper, if they want funding from Treasury Board. I suspect many departments are paying lip service, waiting to see how it will all unfurl. Does anyone have a good knowledge of what the real situation is?

My Response

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

While all of your observations are reasonable, the most telling is your closing remark, “Does anyone have a good knowledge of what the real situation is?”

This simple statement (or question) strikes at the very heart of the problems that have plagued the Government’s initiative from its inception in the fall of 2001 when it was first introduced under the Way Forward “banner of transformation.”

As indicated in my Yes Virginia! e-procurement that works post from this morning, “The success of the Commonwealth’s eVA program (in which their approach to stakeholder engagement has played a major part), demonstrates the elements of the open collaboration that seems to elude the champions of the GoC undertaking.” Note the emphasis on open collaboration!

I cannot help but think of Bill McAneny’s observations from his book Frankenstein’s Manager – Leadership’s Missing Links, in which he emphasized that communication is actually a desire and not a skill. A desire one must conclude seems to be in short supply with the GoC oligarchy.

As a result, interested stakeholders both within and external to the “core group” are left to their own devices in terms of navigating what has become a labyrinth of contradictions and clandestine undertakings.

From the PWGSC’s Pitfield’s nova to IBM’s Molner’s acknowledgement that these types of initiatives usually fail to the Treasury Board’s Mornan’s “we followed procedures” defence of an unrealistic savings estimate, is it any wonder that collectively, we have made little progress.

What everyone is missing however is that while we are all being drawn into this solipsistic power play, the global market is advancing at an alarming rate. And the further we fall behind, the greater the threat to our overall economy.

Here are the specifics:

A 2006 presentation by the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (FASID) asserted that globalization will ultimately “reduce the number of industrial clusters in the world in each industry.” FASID concluded that, “in an era of globalization, only efficient industrial clusters can survive!”

Therefore, the inability to build strong clusters of innovation domestically will directly threaten a nation’s long-term viability to compete globally in key industries.

In this case, the real threat is not the caesarean inclinations of a seemingly detached public sector hierarchy. It is the very real, and very focused determination of other nations implementing innovative policy that poses the greatest risk.

Even though industry leaders such as ITAC’s Bernard Courtois have deemed the Government incapable of grasping “loftier” concepts such as cluster development, the palace is nonetheless on fire. The real question is whether or not the Neros will keep playing.

There are of course numerous studies, which provide further insight into cluster development and the impact of government policy (good or bad) on stimulating innovation. If you would like to receive a copy of this information send me an e-mail at with “Cluster” in the subject line.

In the meantime, here are a few of the articles I have written on this subject.

Reader Question: Is a strong small business sector important to the stability and growth of a nation’s economy? November 10, 2007

Cluster Development and the CAC (PWGSC): Facilitator or Competitor? October 13, 2007

Practice and the Principles of External Economies, Clustering and the Global Value Chain August 28, 2007