You may well have heard the term ‘ministerial responsibility’ in the past few weeks. You probably heard public servants taking responsibility for the mistakes at our border. You will also have heard the term ‘heads must roll’ in the media. You saw a Minister resign, although who was “responsible” for the mistakes is not clear.
Sheeting home responsibility and blame to one person can often be very hard. A complex system of Ministers, public service departments, individual people within and outside the public service and actions of past governments, often means that responsibility is shared.
There is a convention that Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the actions of their departments, irrespective of whether they had any direct oversight of detailed operations. To enlighten us a little on this, you can read here a background piece on the concept and practice of ministerial responsibility, written for IPANZ by Chris Eichbaum.
Cross Cutting Policies - an example from the UK
We attach a brief blog about a cross-cutting strategy in the UK, “the loneliness strategy”.
This blog is written in the shadow of Covid-19, with the author wondering if loneliness might reach epidemic proportions on account of social distancing and self-isolation.
There are some telling comments on cross-cutting strategies (strategies that work across departments, sectors and agencies) — remember such strategies are at the heart of our public service legislation. The author notes that all cross-cutting initiatives have a struggle to maintain momentum and particularly criticises a “tendency to look for public sector-led solutions”. It is important that we do not fall into the trap of over-centralised planning and implementation.
Trustworthy AI in Aotearoa
The AI forum recently produced a document outlining some guiding principles for the use of AI in New Zealand. They invite people to be part of the conversation so that we are all better able to manage any of the identified risks and unintended consequences of AI.
It will be vital for public sector professionals to engage in this conversation. IPANZ will be following this up with articles and events about the practical application of these technologies.
Understanding the principles is a first step. Go straight to page 4 in this little document
Good Practices for Proactive Release of Official Information
Proactive release is when agencies publish official information (usually on the internet) without being asked for it.
Proactive release can inform reasons for decisions, facilitate informed participation in government decision-making and improve public trust and confidence in government.
The Ombudsman has published a new guide that gives good practice recommendations for proactive release, which you can read here. It complements existing guidance by the State Services Commission and the Cabinet Office.
Forces Shaping our Public Service Culture in New Zealand
Our first Wellington lunchtime event following lockdown explored the forces shaping our public service culture in New Zealand, with Nicole Rosie and Dr Kathie Irwin. They gave an insightful and wisdom-packed presentation about our current culture, how it is influenced by the Westminster system and how we can create positive change, including embracing Te Tiriti O Waitangi as a framework for new possibilities.
For those who couldn't attend, we've recorded the presentations and you can view that here. It's definitely one that's worth watching.
Don't Use the Word "Co-Design" Unless Your Process is Entirely True to its Principles
Co-design is much in vogue as a concept. This word is used much too freely to describe processes which are not genuine co-design. Co-design must involve culturally grounded participatory practices, and so often they do not.
Misuse of the term co-design often occurs when project teams involve people by capturing their experience but fail to involve them in developing and testing improvement ideas, right to the conclusion of the process. There is significant risk if co-design is done poorly.
True co-design involves partnership through every stage of the design process — identifying a challenge, engaging people, capturing experiences, understanding experiences, planning improvements and measuring the impact of changes. Only all of this can produce a process, service or information that works for everyone.
You can find six tips on co-design (particularly relating to the health sector) in this document. This represents a very first step for your thinking.
IPANZ is intending to dig deeper into this vexed topic. We especially wish to explore the work of Māori practitioners in future months, and approaches based in Kaupapa Maori principles.
Parliament Passes a New Privacy Act
The new Privacy Act 2020 replaces the 27-year-old Privacy Act 1993. Here are some of the key areas of change:
- Mandatory notification of harmful privacy breaches.
- Introduction of compliance orders.
- Binding access determinations.
- Controls on the disclosure of information overseas.
- New criminal offences.
- Explicit application to businesses whether or not they have a legal or physical presence in New Zealand.
IPANZ encourages you to look at what this means for public sector professionals by reading more about it here.
Meet the Team - Christine Langdon
Christine Langdon joined the IPANZ team last November as our communications and marketing whizz — helping to transform our e-updates, social media and other communications, including introducing more video content. Christine works with IPANZ only one day a week, it is extraordinary what she achieves is this time and the very positive impact she has had upon us all at IPANZ. Thank you to our lovely Christine.
You can read more about Christine here
Meet the Chiefs: New Professionals Breakfast with Andrew Crisp — Wellington, 22 July, 7.15 - 8.30am
Andrew Crisp, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, will join the IPANZ New Professionals over breakfast to talk about his career path, highlights and challenges. There will be the opportunity to ask questions and engage with Andrew as well.
Andrew has been Chief Executive of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since December 2018 (following a brief secondment as acting Chief Executive). He was previously Chief Executive at Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and has held leadership roles across the public sector, including at The Treasury, Department of Labour, Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
This event is for New Professionals only. Find out more and register here.
IPANZ AGM — Wellington, 28 July, 5.15 - 8.00pm
Life members, fellows, members including all staff within our member organisations, and friends are invited to attend IPANZ’s 84th Annual General Meeting in Wellington on 28 July at Deloitte, 12/20 Customhouse Quay Wellington.
The AGM will include a timely and interesting presentation on the state of democracy in New Zealand from guest speaker Dr Bryce Edwards, who runs The Democracy Project — it will be worth joining us at the AGM to hear this presentation alone.
We are seeking nominations to join the IPANZ Board, and specifically looking for the following competencies: governance experience, ability to think strategically, passion for IPANZ's vision, and demonstrated thought leadership. We are particularly seeking nominations from people that will represent Te Ao Māori, and people living in Auckland. The completed nomination form must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and be received no later than 2pm next Tuesday, 21 July.
The formal AGM will close around 7.15pm and be followed by networking and refreshments.
More information including the notice of Annual General Meeting, the Board Nomination form, Minutes of the 2019 AGM and Proposed Amendments to the Constitution can be found here.
Effective Engagement with Māori Workshop — Auckland, 25 - 26 August
This two-day workshop is designed to help public servants gain a greater understanding of Te Ao Māori (Māori world view) and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and provides practical tools and techniques for effectively engaging with Māori.
Find out more and register here.
Our Effective Engagement with Māori workshops in Wellington in July and October are both fully booked. We will be running this in Wellington again next year so keep an eye out for that.
Parliament in Practice — Wellington, 9 September, 9.15am - 3.20pm
Parliament in Practice provides attendees with a unique opportunity to learn about the operations of Parliament, from those working within Parliament's walls, and who are tasked with supporting Parliament. This seminar provides an introductory overview of the roles and functions of Parliament and explores the legislative, select committee and cabinet processes, including a tour of Parliament. It also considers strategies for working effectively with Ministers.
The seminar is designed for departmental and crown entity staff who want to develop an understanding of the functions of Parliament, the passage of legislation, select committee and cabinet processes and working effectively with Ministers.
Find out more and register here.
Brokering and Managing Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships — Wellington, 3-6 November
The global Partnership Brokers Association will host their highly sought-after 4-day partnering programme in Wellington, 3-6 November 2020. This unique professional development programme provides those working in or supporting partnerships and collaboration, with in-depth development on how to develop and support them effectively.
WHAT WE'RE READING
Sharing Best Practice on Systems Thinking
Our members have told us they are interested in systems thinking. This is a brief introduction to a definition of systems thinking and the first steps in thinking in this way, from a range of articles we’ve been reading.
How is systems thinking defined?
Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system's constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. According to systems thinking, system behaviour results from the effects of reinforcing and balancing processes. One helpful way of thinking about systems is that the core of the solutions lay not with the constituent parts, but with the interconnections.
Why is it important for the public sector?
Complexity is a core feature of most policy issues today and in this context traditional analytical tools and problem-solving methods no longer work. Systems thinking treats public services as complex adaptive systems and this way of thinking offers an alternative route to developing solutions and increasing system performance. System ideas are most appropriate when dealing with problems that are unbounded in scope, time and resources and enjoy no clear agreement about exactly what a solution would look like or the multiple ways in which it could be achieved.
The starting point is analysing how you think
Starting with each public sector professional, it is vital to evaluate one’s own thinking and assumptions. More mechanistic thinking assumes more control, more predictability and more linear impact than is the reality in a complex system. The ability to grasp the bigger picture or a different perspective is not constrained by lack of information. It is achieved by challenging the way we each think. One question to put to yourself, that might assist is “What approach would I adopt if I accepted that this system cannot be controlled nor its behaviour predicted?”
These ideas have been taken from a number of DEMOS publications. We are happy to give you references if you wish to pursue these longstanding, and still valid, writings. Contact email@example.com
The Cabinet Office in the United Kingdom has established a systems thinking unit. This unit helps people across the public sector apply systems thinking to complex problems. We attach one of the blogs from this unit for your interest.