Category: Jodi LeBlanc

A Blank Page

A cryptic title, which may lead you to think this blog post is about new beginnings for 2015. I first thought about doing a piece on that topic, and then decided against it. The truth is, I have been struggling with writer’s block since November, and wanted to share my story of finally overcoming it.

I’m not truly sure what happened, but after 6 years of writing freely and easily, it all just went away. I sat down to write an article and I couldn’t muster a word. I stared at the blank page on my laptop for over an hour. Then two hours. I could feel a sense of panic wash over me.

I left it for a few days and then tried again. Nothing. I couldn’t figure it out – I love writing, and it has always been my release. A month went by, still nothing. I decided to jump in with both feet and force myself out of this rut as best I could. I blogged #MyDowntownWishList for 24 days and wrote an article for G! Magazine over the Christmas holidays but it just didn’t quite feel the same – it took effort.

Recently, I was having tea with a good friend and I mentioned to her my loss of focus. She asked me what had changed in my life since this had happened. Well for one, I have been juggling four roles at work since October. I have always been proactive in my approach to things and very organized but with the size of my current workload I have become reactive in order to meet all my deadlines. Thriving on adrenaline the past few months, my mind never felt at rest.

She shared with me her success with a tool called Trello. She was able to keep track of absolutely everything she had on her plate and she no longer had to manage separate to-do-lists for different areas of her life. She said that she immediately felt more organized and was able to think clearly again. Once she got in the habit of using Trello effectively, she stopped worrying whether or not there was something she was forgetting to do. Everything was accounted for in one place.

After she left, I did some research on Trello and stumbled across this Forbes article “7 Steps To Creating The Best Personal Task Management System With Trello” by Tim Maurer. Maurer incorporated principles he learned from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and David Allen’s Getting Things Done to create “the only task management system that’s ever really worked for him”. His article has great tips and I spent a whole evening inputting all of my action items from my email accounts, calendars, and task lists. I started using Trello in combination with other productivity principles that have worked for me in the past. I finally feel like I have full control of my day again and have my clarity and focus back. The best part is that blank page is gone, I couldn’t be happier.

Do you have productivity tips or time management tools that you can’t live without? I’d love to hear from you!


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

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A Renewed Approach to Civic Engagement

On July 2nd, Richard Pietro packed up his things and set forth on a Cross-Canada journey on his motorcycle. He describes his 20+ city tour as “changing Canada by exploring it” – spreading his passion for Open Government, Open Data and Civic Engagement by facilitating dialogue with citizens.

His focus is on education and bringing new voices to the Open Government/Open Data conversation.
In each city, Richard and a City Champion organize creative events where citizens, public servants, students, developers and corporate representatives are invited to participate in a discussion around how they can improve their community through the Open Government movement.

The Open Government Tour serves as a springboard for individuals to learn, discuss, connect and share. Each event is just the beginning – the rest is up to participants to build on these conversations and determine ways that they can make a difference in their own communities.

Richard’s passion for Open Government is undeniable. “I like to say that Open Data is a technology that will give us a more accountable, transparent, and engaging Government. Open Government is the willingness to use that Technology. It is the culture change required by both government and citizens that will create a much more collaborative and productive relationship, in which to build trust and to create environments where everyone can work together,” he says.

I embraced my role as City Champion for the Charlottetown event on July 22nd and hosted Richard in my beautiful city. We had outstanding speakers from MaRS Discovery District, Fusion Halifax, GovCampus and the City of Toronto – sharing their vast knowledge and experiences while providing examples of effective open government initiatives that could be adapted or duplicated in most cities.

One of the objectives of the tour is to frame civic engagement as Art – as a product or creation that results from the passion of each community. Seth Godin once said that “Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only the creator.” Each City Champion was challenged to bring art to the event in one form or another – I tried to get artists to attend the Charlottetown event but competing with tourism season and warm weather I compromised. I turned the event participants into artists. Not only did we have colourful artwork at the end of the evening, their mandala creations doubled as a concentration piece. When the participants’ minds were busy designing their mandalas they could focus completely on the presenter and fully absorb what they were learning – as opposed to checking their phones or zoning out from time to time. The mandalas were a big hit and have now become part of the official OGT14 logo, and have since been incorporated into other city events.

Ray Kao from People and Code and Make Web Not War built an online engagement platform around Open Government and Open Data. The site allows individuals to share perspectives and best practices, make connections and partake in conversations about Civic Engagement. As well, Australia’s GovCampus (formerly Gov 2.0 Radio) has a segment on their website called “Accelerating Open Canada” where they are covering the Tour.

Richard is approaching the midpoint of his tour and is heading West. He has made a conscious effort to explore the uniqueness of each city, travelling the back roads, camping and couch surfing, documenting his journey through photographs, videos and weekly updates. Richard has been spreading his enthusiasm for Open Government to those he meets along the way.

If the opportunity arises, I encourage you to attend an Open Government event in one or more of the remaining cities in the Tour. For those in the National Capital Region, don’t miss the Grand Finale event on Democracy Day, September 16th from 6:30-9:00pm at City Hall. If you would like to learn more about the Open Government Tour, sign up for Richard’s weekly update via his blog and follow his journey on Twitter by searching #OGT14.


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

Doing less, but better

I’ve been giving 110 percent for as long as I can remember – attempting to do it all, while taking advantage of every opportunity that came my way. I became a master juggler of priorities and thrived on the adrenaline of always being busy. I may have spent my whole life on this track but recently I read a book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

The premise of the book is “doing less, but better.” Determining what is essential and then eliminating the rest. I realized I was living my life the exact opposite of the concepts in the book, so I decided to be open to it and see where it led me. It has only been a couple of months but I have never felt better.

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential,” McKeown writes.

There are so many great tips and tricks in the book but the ones that I am currently working on are below:

Eliminate an old activity before adding a new one. This ensures that you don’t add an activity that is less valuable than something you are already doing. Think long and hard about all the things you would have to give up in order to take on something new.

Add expiration dates on new activities. Not every new initiative has to become an ongoing project. The next time you have a successful event – experience it, learn from it, and then move on to the next opportunity.

We can either do many things reasonably well or we can do a few things really well. The situation for many of us is that life is fast and full of opportunity. The complication is we think we have to do everything. We end up making a small amount of progress in a million directions. It is up to us to recognize what is essential and eliminate the nonessentials.

Sometimes we need to say no to good opportunities. Just because we are invited to do something isn’t a good enough reason to do it. It’s counterintuitive to say no to good opportunities, but if we don’t do it then we won’t have the space to figure out what we really want to invest our time in. Saying no to good things in order to say yes to great things – tradeoffs are to be made deliberately, strategically and thoughtfully.

Since reading Essentialism, I have sorted through my full range of commitments with a critical eye and have reluctantly stepped down from a few long standing committees I have been involved in and have turned down a couple of new opportunities I would have said yes to in the past. I also developed a game plan for where I want to invest my time and energy by taking into consideration the skills and abilities I would like to develop and improve upon in the future.

I’ve even applied Essentialism to my personal life. Summers go by so quickly and in the past I always filled my evenings and weekends with soccer, tennis, yoga, golf, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) – trying to fit everything in. This summer I’ve decided that I won’t commit to any teams or classes – that way my evenings are free and I can focus as much time as possible on SUP – my true passion.

The serendipitous thing is I may never have come across this brilliant book. On “Pay it Forward” Day, a kind soul on twitter sent me their copy that they had just won in a give-away. I am grateful to have discovered these ideas and will implement other concepts from the book in the future.

I plan to live by design rather than by default, find what works best and eliminate the rest – focus on what matters most and contribute my efforts to the best of my abilities. All while doing less, but better.


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada and an Outreach and Engagement Advisor with the GC 2.0 Tools Team at Treasury Board Secretariat. She is also a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

Proudly Serving Canadians

As next week marks National Public Service Week (NPSW), I have been working diligently as departmental lead planning engaging and fun activities for my colleagues across the country. The theme of NPSW is “Proudly Serving Canadians” which has made me pause for a moment and reflect on my career with the Public Service.

Working for the Government of Canada (GOC) has allowed me to tap into my interests and talents; build relationships from coast to coast to coast; and work collaboratively with the best and the brightest in a world-class organization. I have worked in various departments and divisions in Prince Edward Island and Ottawa and have had the opportunity to contribute to government-wide initiatives with the Federal Youth Network and, most recently, Blueprint 2020. Looking back, regardless of the position I held, I felt my contributions had a positive impact. I’ve always looked for ways to enhance the public service and ultimately make a difference in the lives of Canadians.

A unique opportunity I had a few years ago was with the Public Service Branding Team. One of the products we created was an e-magazine called “It’s MY Day.” The issue “Making a Difference in the Lives of Canadians” profiled passionate and dedicated Public Servants, featuring the incredible work they accomplished as part of the Public Service of Canada. Their stories are inspiring.

Another product of the branding team that I am particularly proud of was the “My Canada, My Public Service” video. It tells the story of the Public Service and its complexity and diversity, of who we are and what we do. It celebrates the work carried out by public servants, and showcases the meaningful contribution we make to Canada and Canadians each day.

Last month I had the opportunity to participate as part of Youth@Work’s “Career Dating”—a speed-dating style networking event for high school students. The purpose was to educate youth on different types of careers, introduce them to new ones, and help them discover which career path might be right for them. I was grateful to have had the chance to share my passion for the Public Service—and the most amazing thing I discovered was that almost every career choice that the students had in mind, they could do that same work for the GOC. The diversity of jobs and experiences in the public service are limitless.

We as public servants deliver a wide range of programs and services that support the work of government and meet the needs of Canadians in their day-to-day lives. It takes a special kind of dedication to pursue a career in the Public Service. I encourage you all to take the time to celebrate your commitment to serving Canadians as well as recognize the efforts of your colleagues. From one public servant to another, thank you for all that you do each and every day, I am grateful to have you all as my GOC colleagues. Together we are making a difference.


Jodi LeBlanc Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

Taking Care of Ourselves First

This week marks “Mental Health Week” – an annual national event that promotes practical ways for individuals to maintain and improve their mental health and support their recovery from mental illness. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness; it’s a state of well-being. Approximately 7 million Canadians – 20 percent of the population – live with mental illness.

Based on the APEX Executive Work and Health Survey Findings, the percentage of executives with mental health conditions has almost doubled and the psychological stress scores are higher than those of 75 percent of the Canadian adult population. As well, 20.6 percent of executives sought professional counseling and 11 percent were diagnosed and treated for depression and anxiety disorders in the 12-month period prior to the administration of the survey.

Our psychological work environment has a significant impact on our health and stress levels. Executives are more likely to report better health outcomes and the achievement of organizational goals in jobs with reasonable demands, decision-making latitude, high intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, good social supports, and adequate resources.

We are entering an era of an epidemic of overwhelm. A time when too many people’s mental resources are being stretched through multitasking, fragmented attention and information overload. The “Healthy Mind Platter”developed by Dr. David Rock and Dr. Dan Siegelcontains seven essential activities necessary for optimum mental health in our daily lives.

Assessing our mental health is not as simple as measuring our physical health; there are no scales or endurance tests that rate mental fitness. But with the help of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Meter, we can reflect on our unique strengths and identify areas where our level of mental fitness can be improved.

We need to take care of ourselves first – as employees, we are the Government of Canada’s most valuable assets. We work so hard every day to serve Canadians but if we are not taking care of ourselves how can we possibly give our best?  It’s like the analogy of when you are in an airplane and the oxygen masks drop down, you are directed to put the mask on yourself first before assisting others. If you pass out from lack of oxygen while attempting to put the mask on someone else, both of you suffer – however, if you look after yourself first you will have the strength to help others.

Statistics Canada created a “Mental Health Passport” that offers information and tools to help employees identify and reflect on areas of their lives they may wish to improve, as well as encouraging a healthy lifestyle and positive mental health habits. The “Mental Health in the Workplace – Manager’s Guide” was created as a result of an innovative interdepartmental partnership and is another excellent resource.

Respecting ourselves and others, keeping an open mind, and showing empathy and authenticity all go a long way towards promoting workplace well-being and health. Take a moment to download the Mental Health Week promotional and educational materialand start learning, talking, reflecting and engaging with others on all issues relating to mental health. Don’t just practice good habits during Mental Health Week – we need to take care of ourselves each and every day.


Jodi LeBlanc Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

How Performance Management Works

“The first change we are making is to ensure that every public servant has the opportunity to perform to the best of his or her ability,” said Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board of Canada, last May in his speech to the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada on Performance Management.

Since then, a new Directive on Performance Management came into effect April 1, 2014.

As a public servant, your performance agreement will set out what you are expected to achieve at work, how you are expected to achieve it, as well as the learning and training that you may need. Throughout the year, your performance agreement will serve as a basis for all conversations about your work performance that you will have with your manager.

Your manager will establish clear, measurable and understandable work objectives that you are expected to achieve for the coming year. Typically, the objectives relate to budgets, deadlines, accuracy, quality and speed.

You and your manager have a joint responsibility and commitment for your learning and development. You need to work closely to ensure your learning and development plan identifies what you will need to excel in your job – which may include mandatory, specialized and career development learning.

At the end of the work year, your manager is responsible for assessing whether and to what extent you have achieved the expectations set out in your performance agreement. Once your manager has completed your performance assessment, he or she will update your performance agreement and set up a time to discuss it with you. Your manager will provide comments and specific examples to support the ratings and you will also have the opportunity to comment and ask questions. If you had difficulty achieving your objectives, an action plan will be put in place to help you meet your performance. The action plan will outline specific steps to put your performance back on track.

To ensure that you are ready for your performance management and that you fully understand the importance of this new directive, the Federal Youth Network has prepared two short videos with Ross MacLeod, Assistant Deputy Minister at the Treasury Board Secretariat and Farah Boisclair, Co-Chair of the Young Professional Network of the NCR.

For more information, you can consult Performance Management: The Employee’s Kit, the Frequently Asked Questions on Performance Management for Employeesand view the Performance Management Armchair Discussion.


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

Hacking the CODE and Breaking Records

CODE – the Canadian Open Data Experience Hackathon – took place February 28th to March 2nd with developers from across the country working around the 48-hour clock, creating apps that would increase opportunities and constitute tools Canadians could use to make day-to-day life easier.

I was vacationing in the sunny south during CODE but was grateful to be able to livestream the Inspiration Day and follow along with the #CODE2014 tweets throughout the weekend. CODE broke the record for largest competitive hackathon in Canada with over 900 participants from Victoria to Gander, 230 teams, and 110 apps submitted. The Inspiration Day had over 700 simultaneous online viewers at its peak.

“From air and water quality monitoring, to border wait times, to information on permanent residency applications, crime statistics and vehicle recalls, Open Data has the potential to drive social, political, and economic change,”  Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board of Canada said in a letter to CODE participants. “This data is a treasure trove of information that offers endless possibilities for researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs.”

The apps created during the event have been reviewed by an expert panel and the top 15 finalists were announced on March 17. The top 15 teams will be invited to pitch their apps to a panel of industry experts and potential investors at the CODE Grand Finale March 28th. Cash (including a 25K Grand Prize) and in-kind prize packages will be awarded to the top three teams.

To demonstrate the variety of apps that were developed during the Hackathon here are five videos from the 110 apps submitted: Total Recall, GEDS Next, Farmspot, AutoScout and Charity Pie.

You may have missed CODE but you can still hack and mashup some of the featured datasets. For new and experienced hackers visit the Developers’ Corner to browse through videos, presentations, and tips on how to use Government of Canada data to assist you with developing your own apps.

I mentioned CODE last month in my “Understanding Open Data: Don’t get left behind” blog post. If you would like to learn more about Open Data check out @Kentdaitken ‘s “Why Open Data Matters” GitHub page for all things Open Data.

Stay tuned for more Open Data excitement – there have already been discussions around a potential CODE 2.0.


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

Understanding Open Data: Don’t get left behind

It is hard to believe that ninety percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years. I first became interested in Open Data when my colleagues Sean Kibbee and Ryan Androsoff launched their OC Bus Tracker in Ottawa (which has since expanded to Toronto, Vancouver, Boston, Washington and Winnipeg) using real-time GPS open data. I then became an Open Data enthusiast when Minister Tony Clement introduced Canada’s Action Plan on Open Data, the open data portal, and the open government license.

In October, I attended the Open Data Speed Dating at GTEC and began reading about Open Data and Open Government as much as I could. Open Data feels like what Social Media was five years ago – individuals didn’t know a lot about it so they chose not to talk about it. Now Social Media is part of daily conversations in some form or another. As public servants, Open Data and Open Government are not something we can ignore as it impacts us all. To make it easier to see the value we need to take the time to learn more about it and fully understand what it is all about.

What is Open Data?

Open data is data that can be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike.

The data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form – everyone must be able to use, reuse, and redistribute it. It is as simple as that. Want to know more? Here is the full definition.

What is Open Data Day?

On February 22, bloggers, hackers, designers, statisticians, and other citizens who are interested in Open Data will gather online and offline in 110+ cities across the globe for International Open Data Day. This event takes place to encourage governmental data openness and to increase awareness and understanding of the value of open data and its ability to solve problems.

Who should participate?

A common misconception is that Open Data Day is only for developers and designers, but in fact it is for anyone interested in participating and learning. If you have an idea for using open data, want to find an interesting project to contribute towards, learn about how to visualize or analyze data, or simply observe what it is all about, then find an event in your area or participate online by following the hashtag #ODD2014. Regardless of your skillset or interests, there are opportunities for you to learn and help the open data community grow. If you know of a data set that might be of use for an app or visualization, add it to the wiki.

What is a Hackathon?

A hacker can be described as a person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and stretching their capabilities. Hacks are novel creations or solutions to problems and the purpose of a Hackathon is to create them. Hackers can transform and expose new ways of solving problems or analyzing data. The word “Hackathon” comes from combining the words ‘Hack’ and ‘Marathon’ and implies a long sprint to create something useful in a single event.

What is CODE?

The Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE) is the first nationwide Open Data Hackathon in Canada. An intense 48-hour coding sprint where innovators from coast to coast compete to build the best app utilizing federal government data from the Canadian Open Data Portal.

The Appathon begins February 28 to help companies unleash the possibilities of open data through the Government of Canada’s Open Data program. CODE aims to inspire an entire generation of developers and designers to develop apps based on open data.

Want to learn more?

Check out Open Data 101, talk to your colleagues, and attend an event. A list of over 200 local, regional and national open data catalogues is also available on the open source project which aims to be a comprehensive list of data catalogues from around the world. Make sure you check out the Apps Gallery and Open Data in Action to see the unique ways open data is being utilized.

There are many areas where we can expect open data to be of value and examples of how it is already being used – I hope I’ve piqued your interest to learn more. Keep in mind you don’t have to work in Information Technology or Information Management to appreciate the value of Open Data – I’m a prime example.  As Minister Tony Clement said “Data is Canada’s new natural resource. The sky’s the limit in terms of what we can do with this material.”


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

Communication and Networking: The Human Element

In an era where everything we do seems to be moving virtually, this is an opportune time for us to get back to the basics and look for ways to enhance our face-to-face communication and networking skills.

Many experts fear that we are losing our ability to have the traditional face-to-face conversations that are essential in the workplace and in maintaining our professional relationships. While we are perfecting our writing skills by emailing our colleagues across the country (as well as in the cubicle next to us) we need to ensure we don’t lose our capacity to effectively interact with others verbally. Many people find it more convenient to message, email, and connect with others online, but sometimes it makes more sense to pick up the phone, have a quick meeting, or walk to your colleague’s desk. In many cases these methods are more effective for collaborating, making collective decisions, or getting your work done more efficiently.

As for the networking aspect, I attend mixers regularly because I want to interact with individuals that have a common interest, unique insights, and different perspectives. I genuinely love meeting new people and learning about their experiences.

Networking is a great exercise in relationship building and you can do it just about anywhere. Don’t worry so much about the “formal” aspects of networking. If you are polite, friendly, and have a sincere interest in the people you meet then the rest will fall into place. Strive to be a natural networker – just be yourself, and let your personality shine through.

One of my mentors once told me something I will never forget. Be a good listener – and really listen – don’t be thinking about what you are about to say next when the other person is speaking. Let what they have to say sink in and have an honest interest in what they are telling you.

I know it can be difficult, but try to do everything in your power to remember an individual’s name when you first meet them. It can become awkward if you just had a great conversation with someone and then another person comes along and you are unable to introduce the two of them because you forget their name.

Make sure your online identity matches your offline one – if you are outgoing online but shy in-person you really need to step out of your comfort zone when you meet your online connections face-to-face. You want them to have the same impression of you when they meet you in-person as they did when they met you virtually.

There are a lot of ways you can improve your communication and networking skills. Get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce and/or networks, such as the Federal Youth Network (FYN), National Managers Community (NMC), the Web 2.0 Practitioners community (w2p), and the Institute of Public Administration Canada (IPAC), to name a few.

While I have fully embraced virtual networking, there is no substitute for the human element in developing strong bonds with our colleagues – I am always grateful when I have the opportunity to meet my virtual connections face-to-face. We are living in times of unprecedented change and complexity. It is up to each of us to find ways to retain our soft skills and utilize them regularly to help shape our future workplace.


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc

Twitter Best Practices for Govvys

Last week Twitter, released its “Best Practices for Government” and it got me thinking about my experiences with using Twitter as a govvy (government employee).

I was hesitant about Twitter when I first signed up almost five years ago, hence the reason I didn’t use my full name (first name and birthdate = @jodilynne3), as I wanted to try it out first – not realizing at the time that once you develop relationships with others, it is difficult to change your handle, it becomes part of your online identity. The same goes for your avatar; I have not changed mine since I opened the account, as it can sometimes become confusing for those that may only know you as a tiny photo.

I discovered a whole new world via Twitter. It has made me realize that I have colleagues outside my small work unit – all over the country, in fact, that are passionate about making a difference in the public service. If it wasn’t for Twitter, I would not have had the opportunity to connect with so many of my Government of Canada (GoC) colleagues, where the departmental and regional boundaries have magically melted away.

I have developed a trusted community that I can reach out to, and we have collaborated virtually on multiple projects. Recently, I was a presenter for the “Twitter Best Practices for Govvys” Clicks and Tips webinar. The night before, I put a question out to my tweeps (Twitter network) asking them to share their best practices and tips. I was so impressed with the wealth of responses I received throughout the evening and into the next day. To me, this is a true picture of the influence of Twitter – asking a question and getting an unlimited cross-section of reputable responses.  I have seen countless examples of this within the past five years.

“Govvys” are using Twitter to connect and collaborate with their colleagues, share articles of interest and information, keep up to date on current workplace trends, ask questions, and promote events. Until Twitter came along, I had never seen so many colleagues eager and excited about the release of the Clerk of the Privy Council’s annual report or the Speech from the Throne.

Another benefit to Twitter is that individuals are live-tweeting key messages at conferences, workshops, and events that they attend – if others can’t be there in-person, they are able to experience the highlights based on all the tweets from participants.

Twitter is not like Facebook or LinkedIn where you have to already know the person before you can connect with them. It is a compliment to follow someone you don’t know; it means you think they have something interesting to say. Follow your GoC colleagues and start interacting with them. There is a full list of them on GCPEDIA – that is how you can begin to establish virtual connections.

Take the opportunity to meet your Twitter connections in-person. To me, there is nothing quite like face-to-face interaction. Whenever I travel I always reach out to my virtual connections so we can meet in-person, and for those I have already met, I love having the opportunity to see them outside the 140 characters on Twitter.

With the new Policy on Acceptable Network and Device Use and Blueprint 2020, my department has “opened the gates” to Twitter and other social media sites. This is a big step for the Public Service and I hope to see other departments follow suit in the future.

Twitter is such a powerful tool. If you haven’t tried it yet I encourage you to sign up today and reap the benefits – you won’t be disappointed. Feel free to contact me and I would be happy to help you get started. I hope to see you in the Twitterverse soon.


Jodi LeBlanc
Jodi LeBlanc is a Values and Ethics Advisor with Veterans Affairs Canada in Prince Edward Island. She is a collaborator/innovator for numerous public service initiatives and national networks and is a member of CGE’s editorial advisory board. You can connect with her via @jodilynne3 or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jodileblanc.