In recent columns we have examined the challenges of leading and managing change and strategies for keeping up. In late November, the board of the Canadian Seed Growers’ Association met in a special session to examine how best to anticipate and ultimately facilitate and lead change, how best to mitigate the associated risks and to effectively identify and capitalize on the inevitable opportunities that will result.
The result was a rich and stimulating issues identification and analysis process that lasted five days. The board agreed on a plan to augment ongoing efforts to improve transparency, communication and collaboration among industry and government with regard to seed issues, and to move quickly to address those issues — while keeping a close eye on the bottom line.
An anticipated review and modernization of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Seed Program and ongoing efforts among various industry stakeholders to coordinate their positions in response to it were an important catalyst for CSGA’s decision to act now. The recent change in government, as well as the transition to new leadership at CSGA and the CSTA were additional contributing factors.
The significance of what was achieved by the CSGA board in November may take some time to be felt. In the mean time, discussions with our members and our industry and government partners will intensify. A clear, shared vision of where the seed industry and the seed regulatory system that supports it needs to go next will be developed. The process to get there will be intense and sometimes challenging, but it’s CSGA’s resolve to be in the mix — to engage and to press for concrete and timely results is necessary.
Implementing the Plan
The CSGA action plan has three basic elements that together provide CSGA’s staff and executive with a mandate to intensify efforts to enhance collaboration with prospective partners on priority issues of mutual concern; to examine more closely how CSGA itself is organized and equipped to perform its roles — now and in the future — and take required action; and to ensure that whatever path is chosen is financially sustainable for its members and the broader community that seed growers serve and support.
With respect to collaboration, CSGA staff have already begun to ramp up their efforts. A critical path to the next Seed Synergy meeting in February between the leaders of CSGA, CSTA, CSI, CSAAC, CPTA and CropLife Canada has been agreed upon and the work is underway to flesh out an ambitious agenda for that discussion.
The presidents and executive directors of key CSGA partners — CropLife, CSTA and CSI — were invited to the November CSGA board meeting. Very productive discussions ensued, and staff have been directed to work with their counterparts in these organizations to enhance cooperation through all means possible. Similar direction has been given to staff with respect to strengthening CSGA’s co-regulatory working relationship with CFIA.
In parallel, national office staff are moving ahead to lay the groundwork for the development of CSGA’s next five-year strategic plan, with a target date of July 2017 for completion. The board has directed that the planning process include its regional branches and key industry, government and other partners and that it be focused on measures that will contribute to the wellbeing of the entire seed and agriculture sector in Canada. In this way, it is hoped that no matter what changes result, what is good for the sector and what is good for CSGA will continue to be one and the same. Stay tuned…