NRC employees working together to renew the NRC

December 08, 2017

The Dialogue Hub

The Dialogue Hub
From left to right:
Back row – Sue Greenfield Habets, Julie Cantin, Rebecca Hart, Michelle Wright
Middle row – Mylène Aspeck, Sylvie Couture, Adriana Bedoya, Alessia Bongiovanni
Front row – Susannah McDonell, Sonia Thomson, Angela Chatterton, Iain Stewart
Not in the picture: Roger Scott-Douglas, Sylvie Brunette, Kris Khanna

How do you go about self-assessing an organization? You talk to your employees, external experts and key stakeholders. And talk, we did! In total, more than 3,000 employees from across the organization actively participated in 350 open and inclusive consultations held across the country. Concurrently, more than 3,000 responses were received through online surveys and feedback forms. Over the course of the exercise, hundreds of ideas were put forward by staff, resulting in nearly 100 proposals.

As part of the continued renewal of the NRC and to support the government's Innovation and Skills Plan, the NRC's President was instructed in his mandate letter to engage science and innovation personnel in assessing the current state of the organization in four areas: innovation support, engagement, governance, and management. This internal exercise was called "The NRC Dialogue". The overall purpose of Dialogue was to help guide the reorientation of the NRC toward research excellence in Canada. Seven working groups, called Tiger Teams, composed of a diverse set of employees from across the organization, were created to start the Dialogue assessment phase. A panel of external expert advisors representing government, academia and the private sector provided a challenge function.

To ensure that the employees of the NRC were heard, understood and represented, the Hub, a multi-disciplinary team of 14 NRC employees was formed to set the stage for the consultations, provide the proper framing for discussions and support the Tiger Teams. Throughout this fast-paced process, the Hub demonstrated the values of the NRC through leadership, collaboration and role model behaviour. The Hub synthesized the material provided through the massive consultation, ensured a whole-of-NRC approach in the writing of the proposals, and ensured employees and management could see their input reflected in the results. 

Dialogue consultations culminated in a one-day symposium that brought the lessons learned, advice and proposed solutions from the panel of expert advisors to the NRC Executive team and Tiger Teams in a thought provoking and forward looking manner.

The proposed solutions were further developed and refined to create a series of actions that build on the consideration of the key success factors of past reforms, and reflect the unique aspects and capacity of the organization. Launched to employees in late-August 2017, the NRC Action Plan 2017-2021 will revitalize and sustain the NRC's role at the forefront of research and innovation excellence.

Throughout the Dialogue initiative, the work of the Tiger Teams and Hub members resulted in significant impact in renewing the NRC and reinvigorating the organization's sense of self. The Dialogue initiative is now moving into the implementation phase with a number of actions to be completed over the next four years.

Looking ahead, a re-imagined NRC will be at the centre of research excellence and collaboration, bringing together the best minds from academia, industry and across government to deliver breakthroughs across the innovation continuum that are important to Canada's future.

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