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The Idea Locker

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You are probably here because you have a Chapter event looming and not a clue about what the event should be about. Never fear, below are ideas and tested events from various FMI Chapters across Canada. If you want to read a more about how to organize an FMI learning event, check out the July 2015 fmi*igf e-Journal article on this topic.

Resources are also available via the FMI-Resource Locker.

Do you have an idea you want to include in the Locker? Please use the Contact Us form (select "Idea Locker" on the drop-down menu) to submit an idea or an event but be sure to include:
  • a snappy title for the idea or the event title;
  • a short paragraph summarizing the event;
  • whether it is an idea or an event previously held;
  • your contact information in case we have questions; and,
  • be sure to include the broad theme; the three broad themes used to categorize the events are as follows:
  1. Government/Public Service Theme: Focuses on the public sector and the professionals who work in it. Partners for these types of programs include government entities, the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), universities, public sector pension organizations and unions.
  2. Financial Management Theme: Focuses on the financial aspects of an organization, and accounting and finance professionals. Partners for these types of programs include accounting associations (CPA, ACCA, etc.), accounting firms and banks.
  3. Local or Personal Interest Theme: Includes everything else. Local interest events are specific to each Chapter. Nevertheless, while your Chapter may not deal with oil and gas exploration, maritime law or managing governments in two official languages, the ideas in the locker may lead to other more relevant ideas for your Chapter. The Edmonton Chapter tries to hold a least one fun or personal development-focused learning event per program year.

1. Government/Public Service Idea Locker

Fostering Innovation in the Public Service

(FMI Edmonton status - scheduled for May 2016)

Public servants are expected to be innovative while working in a risk averse environment. This inherent conundrum is compounded during times of fiscal restraint when ideas are solicited but resources are few. What is innovation, how do you get it, how do you keep it and when should you avoid it? How to propose, implement and sustain an innovative idea or culture in an environment that is less than ideal. Finally, thoughts and strategies of making the case during times of fiscal restraint.

Organization notes: Consider engaging Ministries or academics involved in innovation or productivity research. Include speakers from non-related industries such as product design professionals or artists. 

Public Service and Its Unions

(FMI Edmonton status - scheduled for January 2016)

One pervasive constant in the public service is the existence of unions across all levels of government. This session will consider the benefits to the members, citizens and taxpayers unions play and what are the corresponding costs or inefficiencies they introduce.

Organization notes: Involve local unions, labour leaders and non-union adherents to participate in discussions about the myths, realities, benefits and costs of unionization in the public service.

Surviving the Dreaded Re-Organization

Re-organizations are not unique to governments; but why do re-organizations from the political level occur in the first place, who has mastered the art of surviving and what can a public servant take away from or contribute to the re-organization? Beyond the structural changes, what are the specific challenges in changes in leadership and the loss of corporate knowledge? What are the impacts to managers, non-managers with a specific focus on the role of the finance person in the re-organization?

Organization notes: Consider inviting former political leaders to answer the question about the intent or plan for an organization; invite leaders from mergers and acquisitions as well as academics experienced with organizational change.

How Government Works, a Ground Up Review

Canada has three-levels of government, federal, provincial/territorial and municipal/aboriginal. How do these government-levels work? What are the similarities, differences and nuances for each? What should a financial manager or public servant know about these similarities or differences?

Organizational notes: Consider collaborating for this event, include presentations from past and present sitting politicians and a tour of a political building such as the Legislature or Parliament Buildings.

Policies, Procedures, Legislation, Regulations and Directives

Accountability and oversight has many forms. What organizations have mastered the subtle art of enough control that does not destroy innovation in its ranks? This session will look at that delicate balance, including special focuses, between the federal and provincial treasury boards and municipal equivalents.

Organizational notes: Consider having speakers who have mastered or are in charge of policy or procedure review initiatives.

2. Financial Management or Professional Interest Idea Locker

Fraud Awareness in the Public Sector

(FMI Edmonton status - scheduled for September 2015)

Internal controls are central to the fiduciary responsibilities of financial professionals and financial managers in the public service. How good are your controls, is passing an audit enough and can you have too much control? These are the questions that a panel of experts will discuss including examples from the real world of auditing.

Organizational notes: Consider partnering with an accounting firm, police service and the Auditor General for this event. 

Public Sector Budgeting, Part I: Who Loves their Budget System 

Budgets are central to a public service organization. In many ways they are as important or perhaps more important than even the financial statements. This is particularly so in organizations using the Westminster model of budget approval (e.g. the provincial or federal governments). Given their importance, who does budgeting well? Who has clients that love the system and who can produce reliable forecasts quickly? This session will explore these questions and opportunities from a system, municipal, provincial and federal perspective.

Organizational notes: Consider partnering with a technology company (e.g. SAP, Oracle) to provide the first lens. Next, seek out positive stories of organizations who do good budgeting. Finally, this may be a partnering opportunity with an accounting or consulting firm.

Public Sector Budget, Part II: Do Results/Performance Based Budgets really perform (or deliver results)?

Known by many names and methodologies (Results-Based, Zero-Based, etc.), a performance-based budget strives to link inputs (financial and other resources) with the outputs and intended outcomes. In theory results-based budgeting improves the allocation of scarce resources available to a public service. In practice though, what have been their successes and challenges?

Organizational notes: Explore these challenges through panel discussions and presentations from former public servants charged with delivering budgets, former politicians using the budget and academics studying the issue.

Standards, Standards and More Standards

For accountants working in non-traditional finance areas, it is easy to get rusty on the standards that underpin our work. This refresher will provide a whirlwind tour for the financial manager on the accounting standards in force and that influence the public service. This will include the legacy Canadian CICA, International Accounting Standards (IAS), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Canadian Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB), International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).

Organizational notes: Considering partnering with a local CPA chapter.

Accounting for and Managing Assets in Government

How well does your organization manage the asset life cycle? How is that asset verification thing working out for you? Are your organization policies, procedures and technology current or are they getting a bit stale? Finally, do you understand the accounting standards relative to tangible, intangible, componentization or work-in-progress accounting? This session will examine the asset life cycle, who is doing it well, the standards and what could be done better.

Organizational notes: Considering partnering with an accounting firm and a local CPA Chapter for this event.

3. Local/Personal Interest Idea Locker

The following are suggested as being more generic ideas for FMI Chapters. The reality is that local/personal interest events are going to be driven by the context of the Chapter. Thus events about oil and gas exploration, maritime law or managing governments in two official languages will be more or less of interest to different Chapters across the country. Nevertheless, try to have a least one fun or personal development event per year to show the diversity of FMI programming!

Mission Possible: Building Better Teams?

Teams or at least work units are the basis for most organizational structures. How can financial managers build better teams and how can financial professionals and public servants be better followers and contributors to a team? More importantly, how to balance the success of the team with individual performance management and promotion?

Organizational notes: Explore these issues and concepts with speakers from the human resource and business coaching communities and invite members of an effective team to speak at the event.

Personal Development Mini-Ideas

Without getting into too many details, some quick ideas along the theme of personal development:

  1. People and their personalities/colours. (FMI Edmonton sold out twice with this theme)
  2. The 360 Review and Benefits of Self-Knowledge.
  3. The Art of Influencing Others.
  4. Building Teams when Times are Tough.
  5. The Art of Performance Measurement, Management and Avoiding Unintended Consequences.
Local Issues

Is your city building a new hockey arena, recovering from a natural disaster or had an event affecting or involving the public service? Consider having a sitting or retired political or senior public servant come and speak at a local Chapter event. Even better, if this is a good news story, seek opportunities to partner with the organization so as to reduce costs and organizational effort.

Can Ideas and Resources be Shared Outside of FMI?

Absolutely! Please use and re-purpose the ideas and resources, as this demonstrates the value, networking and leadership of FMI in our communities. When using the ideas and resources please include a note of acknowledgement, such as the following:

  This idea originated with the Financial Management Institute of Canada (fmi*igf) and is used with permission under Creative Commons (Non-commercial). We thank the FMI for sharing their ideas and will let them know how their idea worked out for us.