As most of the world knows, Canada has a (hot) new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who was sworn in with his cabinet yesterday. Notable among his appointees to Her Majesty’s Privy Council (that is, ministers of cabinet), is the fact that there is a 50:50 gender split, and strong representation of New Canadians, an aboriginal woman as Justice Minister (who also happens to have been an experienced Crown attorney), an amputee in the Veteran’s Affairs post, and – demonstrating the new PM’s wry sense of humour – a former astronaut as Transport Minister.

In stark contrast to his predecessor’s governance-by-imperial-fiat style, PM Justin serves notice: “Government by cabinet is back”…. baby! (I feel an Austin Powers moment coming on here.)

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, industrial age organizations (as in, most throughout the 20th century) hire human “resources” as one might consider replaceable machine parts. On the other hand,  contemporary organizations intentionally hire individuals who can enable the type of organizational transformation needed for whatever contemporary circumstances the organization intends to navigate. Put another way, hire for the organization you want to become, not the organization you are today. Skills, knowledge, and experience are important, to be sure. Contrary to almost ubiquitous hiring practices, resume-parsed skills, knowledge, and experience aren’t the be-all and end-all—the exclusive “gold standard” of hiring.

Since every new hire – every new person who accepts an organizational role – effects a unique transformation in the interpersonal dynamics emerging from the “connection (i.e. valence) relationships” they create, it is the individual’s potential for organizational transformation that really counts. Unpacking that complex sounding idea: Everyone in an organization connects to everyone else via a set of valence (uniting, combining, reacting) relationships. Change a person and you necessarily change the interactions among those relationships. Change the quality and nature of those interacting relationships and you change the organization. Thus every new arrival and every fresh departure is a transformational act. Contemporary hiring strategy is less of “what skills do we need?” and more of “who, what, and how do we want to become?”

Trudeau’s cabinet effects a message of transformation for government, for parliament, and for the country as a whole.

Fifteen years into the 21st century, it’s about time!