A Team Canada for Professional Surveyors and Geospatial Scientists Part 2

Mar 26, 2014

In last week’s article, I discussed what the future identity of the Canadian geomatics community could be through a “Team Canada” lens. To view the first part of this article, clickhere. In Part 2, I will expound on the thoughts expressed earlier by outlining three strategic pillars. I chose three because of the long term stability it provides!

Firstly, Team Canada pulls together the best attributes of Canadian surveying and geospatial sciences interest groups, while fostering a sense of autonomy through national or regional chapters. A multi-dimensional governance structure could comprise disciplines such as land surveying, remote sensing and earth observation, hydrography, engineering and construction surveying, high density scanning, GPS and geodetic positioning, GIS and cartography, geography, land administration and planning. Chapters representing certain interest groups, such as licensing bodies, aboriginal issues and women’s interests for example, are engaged in the improvement of the broader geospatial sciences sector.

Secondly, Team Canada is recognized for fostering and publishing leading edge research activities and as being the go-to entity for national certification in each discipline. Certification identifies your level of expertise in the surveying and geospatial science disciplines to your peers, clients, employers, and the wider community via a formal portfolio recognition system of competency and integrity. Team Canada is well resourced and plays a key role among its partners from governments, industry, vendors and academia to effectively manage Canada’s natural resources over, on and under our lands and oceans.

The third pillar in our Team Canada structure addresses the possibilities of a balanced existence between government institutions and entrepreneurial communities. The first group represents a hierarchical vertical governance model guided by long established policies and procedures, providing stability and reliability. In a slow moving world, that can work fine. But as the world begins to speed up, institutions try to cope by adding strategic planning committees, efficiency task forces, consultants, and project management gurus to create and execute new strategies. The institution eventually becomes bogged down with new policies and procedures. Add to that, shrinking budgets in an accelerating world and the organization loses its ability to attract the best and brightest the world has to offer.

On the other hand, entrepreneurial communities may join forces strategically to compete effectively in a rapidly changing world. They are fast and agile, delivering timely, tangible, (and sometimes unpredictable) products and services, leading to profitable growth and a great place to work. This flatter organization easily attracts people to generate new ideas and initiatives for increased success.

So, which model will win in an accelerating world of change? The efficient, agile and growth creating group, or the steadfast, reliable, and rules guided group? Actually, neither, by themselves. Team Canada will win as it will have both groups firmly hooked together. Entrepreneurs will be present and play a role in both models, enabling the organization to be agile, to grow and be successful, while connected to and supported by a strong, reliable institution that can systematically remove barriers to its prosperity. Team Canada’s vision is clearly communicated across all channels resulting in resources that are better aligned, yielding greater results than ever thought possible. It will have the energy required to carry out “long distance” strategies, but have enough reserved strength for short-term bursts when needed.

The industry as a whole is just beginning to evaluate its identity, learning the crucial role it plays with others in the prosperity of our nation. There have been numerous attempts to pull together a winning team from seemingly unrelated players without a clear vision of what the assembled team will look like. Why is it such a complicated game to play? Why is it so difficult in being good at it? Is it a sense of self pride, a reluctance to trust the ability of a team player? Is success defined as a matter of good timing, hope, and a bit of luck? I would suggest that these are not elements of an effective strategy for success but more of a recipe for us to eventually end up as exhibits in a museum. Planning wins over prayer, every time!

The data is clear that the rate of change in the world is increasing exponentially. Numerous factors indicate that not only is the world moving more quickly, but that the rate of change may be the defining characteristic of the business world for the foreseeable future. The process of increasing the urgency for the need for change must be core to a successful organization and it must be sustained over time. It is critical to set the stage for making a challenging leap into some new direction.

Just imagine what this Team Canada could accomplish in terms of establishing our identity, our brand, our place in the global market! All the ingredients currently exist in one form or another. All it takes is a new kind of leadership, effective management and a willingness to bring these ingredients together to drive results in a world of ever-increasing change. We need to believe strongly that the world needs much more action from a broader range of people—action that is informed, committed, and inspired—to help us all in an era of increasing change. It will require perseverance, a passion to be the best at what we do, hours of planning, hard work, and of course, sufficient funding to help us achieve Team Canada GOLD! (Sound familiar?). When is the best time to act? NOW! The world will not wait.

Norm Coté is a member of the Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table Steering Committee and Past-Chair of Professional Surveyors Canada.


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