Ian opens his eyes every morning expecting the day to be an adventure. That the person he is in the morning is not the person he will be in the evening: “That the day will change me.”
The days that change him most are those he spends delivering workshops for the Government of Nunavut. His workshops on policy development and on people-centred project management have a common thread: policy is the design of strategies and programs; project management is the orderly rolling-out of those strategies and programs.
Ian grew up at the time of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, when “Tom Berger brought the North to southerners.”
Ian worked in Ottawa in policy and communications and earned a Master’s degree in public administration at Harvard, but he says that his most important and rewarding learning comes from the workshops he delivers in Nunavut: “I always come out feeling like I got something out of my program.”
The trick is to get to know the people, to understand their circumstances, to hear what they need, and then to adapt. As a southerner, Ian sometimes finds it a challenge to adapt not his ideas but his language to the North. Metaphors like scoping and milestones may not be familiar to the people in his workshops. But working with those participants to find a common understanding of such concepts enhances their learning—and his.
Working in the North means learning to live the concept of contingency planning. The weather will often interfere with the best laid plans. “My workshop participants will roll with it. First Air will roll with it. And now I know how to roll with it.” Ian believes that criss-crossing Canada, from East to West, and from North to South, has provided him “with a people-centred approach to governance.”