President’s Report 2018
The format of this year’s president’s report is a bit unusual; but it has been an unusual year. Having been under liberal rule for over a decade, the Executive Board had developed a rhythm for conducting the business of the Association. The change in government brings a measure of uncertainty, and a journey into the unknown. Rather than report on what we have done over the previous year, I decided I would suggest that the Association must make changes to remain viable in the coming years.
One of my favourite authors is Nassem Taleb. His ideas are complicated; I can barely understand them, let alone apply them or try to explain them to someone else. Nonetheless, I will attempt to do so as one of his ideas aptly describes the situation currently facing the Association.
In one of his books, Taleb discusses the concept of being anti-fragile. An object or system that is fragile is easily broken or destroyed when exposed to force or adversity, while an object or system that is robust can withstand exposure to force or adversity. For example, some buildings are robust because they have endured for hundreds of years, despite long-term exposure to extreme weather.
Being anti-fragile is not the same as being robust. Being anti-fragile is more than being able to resist. Something that is anti-fragile becomes stronger when exposed to chaos and disorder.
It’s been a long time coming, but a change is gonna come
For the first half of the year, it was business as usual. In addition to our regular board meetings, and meetings with the ADMs of both Ministries, POAO was asked to provide input onto two pieces of legislation: Bill 6, and Bill 375. While it was a great honour to be asked to provide input, the insight that POAO provided hardly seems relevant now, given the change in philosophy and likely change in direction that we will be faced with over the next four years.
One of the goals if the newly elected PC government is to find efficiencies to reduce the debt. Non-mandatory training, workshops, and conferences have been reduced, or cut altogether. This measure has affected all Ministries, including MCSCS and MCCSS. POAO is robust, up to a point. The Association has financial resources. We can make it through this year, but our resources are not infinite. If the Association does not change the way our business is done, our resources will quickly be depleted.
I believe the Association must become Anti-Fragile. The difficult circumstances will force us to change. The Association will evolve and become better.
Losing our funding for this year may turn out to be a blessing. It will force us to focus only on what is truly important. The technology that is now available will allow the Association to operate in ways that were not available, even a few years ago.
We have refreshed our website, to make it easier for our members and visitors to navigate. We have started a YouTube channel, to assist with our mandate of educating the public. We are also looking into on-line meeting services to reduce costs and help board members stay on top of various projects.
I am saddened, as are many others, that we were not able to hold our usual Symposium this year. However, under very tight time lines, we were able to locate a suitable hotel, put on an AGM, and put together a line-up of speakers. I am very proud of the members of the executive board, whose efforts made this possible.