IPANZ E-Update - 4 August

Kia ora koutou

The past months have seen so many challenges, adaptions, successes and opportunities for the future. We touch on some of them in this e-update including trust and social capital, the response of Maori communities during COVID-19, innovation and the role of science.

We are also beginning to focus again on the Public Service Legislation, with an exploration of organisational culture. Culture change will be essential to deliver the aspirations of this legislation.

And the public service definitely can change, and can do it fast with will, motivation and leadership. Public servants rose to the challenges of the past months because we have a modern workforce with a genuine desire to serve the public. Visible, agile professionals working beyond their hours and collaborating across boundaries — old negative stereotypes no longer need endure.

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


Achieving Equity for Māori in Health

Pat Snedden, chair of the Auckland Area Health Board, presented a paper supporting the government to achieve greater equity in health at a recent Board meeting.

Pat has given permission for extracts of this paper to be presented here.

The paper helps to illustrate how new ways of doing things, on the basis of Te Tiriti partnerships, can deliver considerable benefits. We hope the public sector can apply lessons from this example and consider how it might apply in sectors other than health.

Investing in Social Capital

We look forward to more comment and analysis on social capital in New Zealand. The OECD sees social capital as a strength in New Zealand; their definition being “networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate cooperation within or among groups”.

New Zealand is wealthy in terms of those aspects of our way of being that contribute to social capital such as enduring trust, relationships, and the ability to mobilise collectively to solve problems. It is likely that our comparatively strong social capital helped us do well responding to COVID-19, and perhaps our success in past months has strengthened our social capital further.

It is fragile of course. Social capital requires ongoing use and investment to maintain its value. Capital investment in relation to social capital is distinctive.

As there seems to be a positive association between social capital, productivity and macro-economic outcomes, social capital investment is of interest to all public sector professionals. The Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge has written a working paper on the importance of social capital which you may like to read here.

Systems Thinking in Relation to Local Government

Our articles about systems thinking in the last e-update obviously struck a chord; we’ve had numerous emails asking for more information.

We attach here a more detailed document on complex systems. It is written by Ron Crawford of the New Zealand Productivity Commission in the context of an enquiry into urban planning. Seeing the concepts and theory laid out, and then applied to one specific area will be of value to many of you, whatever sector you work in.

Our articles in the last e update were a starter for 10 on systems thinking and this well-researched article takes the thinking further.

“However good the science, you need the politics too”

We’ve been learning a lot about the role of science in government as we prepare an article for the next Public Sector journal about our scientific advisors across the public sector and the Prime Minister’s Science Advisor.

We came across this brief and useful article from Nottingham University — it seems similar debates are going on elsewhere of course! We rather like the tongue-in-the-cheek comment “politicians look to scientists to give themselves “nerd immunity”! Enjoy it.

Innovation Systems for Government

One of the rich aspects of being an Institute of Public Administration is we have relationships with other similar institutes all over the world. We are all different of course, with different key roles and activities, but the subject matter we focus on is common.

To give you one example, reproduced by the Irish Institute, but referring to Canada (we collaborate…..!) here is a very succinct public administration brief about an emerging model for Canada and other countries to assess their own innovation systems and navigate their innovation journeys.

We welcome our members telling us more about their innovation approaches and initiatives here in New Zealand.

Our Year in Review

We held a well-attended and enjoyable IPANZ Annual General Meeting last week, with an excellent presentation from our guest speaker Dr Bryce Edwards from the Democracy Project — talking of scandals, turbulence and focus on personalities around election time all over the world. Watch out for our next Public Sector journal with a full article from Bryce. And if you’d like to take a look at our Annual Report you can find that here.

Meet the Team

After more than 30 years in the public sector, Anthony Richards remains fascinated by NZ history, politics, policy and democracy and what makes our society tick. He also remains passionate about the role of the public sector — and the role of IPANZ in that.

“I’ve come to see how much I value the kinds of things that IPANZ stands for — an effective public service that is as far as possible meeting the needs of as many people as possible. That involves hard work and discipline and there is an extent to which that is often not understood or appreciated. It is always a work in progress.”

Anthony is the latest member of the IPANZ board profiled in our Meet the Team series. You can read his profile here.


New Professionals: Building a Resilient Career - WELLINGTON, 5 August, 5.30-7.30pm

This session will provide you with knowledge on the types of skills that new professionals could be looking at to insulate their careers against the shocks of tomorrow — a particularly relevant topic following the COVID-19 shifts in how we work and the overall labour market.

Three panellists will discuss career defining moments such as international experience/moves, surviving the Global Financial Crisis and its comparison to COVID-19, and how to deal with a career change.

Panelists are:

  • Lauren Foster - Deloitte – Human Capital Partner, Consulting
  • Henry Fyers - Deloitte – Cyber Risk Associate Director, Risk Advisory
  • Pouaka Parore – Victoria University of Wellington - Kaiakiaki (engagement adviser)
  • Shelley Wood – INSIDE Recruitment - Director

Find out more and register here.

Public Sector Reputation 2020 - WELLINGTON, 14 August, 12.00-1.00pm

The reputations of public sector agencies reached record highs as the COVID-19 crisis struck this year, according to the Colmar Brunton annual Public Sector Reputation Index. However, we know how quickly reputation can be lost.

In this session, Edward Langley, Colmar Brunton Research Director, will discuss what the study showed New Zealanders think are the most important factors for shaping high Public Sector reputation. He will also talk about how the public are responding differently in the post-lockdown environment, including their openness to, and scrutiny of, public sector messaging.

We will also hear from Rhys Jones, Chief Executive of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ). FENZ took the top spot in 2020 for the fifth year running. It is rated most highly overall, and across each of the four pillars that shape reputation – trust, social responsibility, leadership, and fairness. This comes at a time, however, when the service is under scrutiny for bullying and harassment.

Find out more and register here.

Building Effective Engagement Through Social Media - NZ Police Case Study - WELLINGTON, 26 August, 1.00-2.00pm

NZ Police have more than 1.7 million social media followers, and have gained national and global attention with the tone and style of their content. How can we not mention #fridayfloof?!

In this session, Jess Bovey, Senior Social Media Advisor, and Paul Halford, Marketing and Brand Manager will showcase some of their social media, while sharing:

  • The drivers and policy behind Police’s social media strategy
  • The model they use for social media
  • Getting the tone (and content) right
  • The challenges for Public Sector agencies using Social Media.

Find out more and register here.

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.

Effective Engagement with Māori Workshops - FULLY BOOKED

Our Effective Engagement with Māori workshops for the rest of 2020 are now fully booked. We will be announcing dates for 2021 early next year.


IPANZ has been looking at some of the literature on organisational culture change. Why now? The Public Service legislation is currently going through Parliament. Legislation itself will not have a big impact on some of the key planks of this Act unless culture change takes place in the public service. We will not honour the new Crown/Maori provisions without significant culture change. The extent of collaboration envisaged in the Act needs a change in organisational culture. And the values and principles, though most are not new, will require changes in culture if they are to be truly implemented.

Below is a brief description of organisation culture which nicely outlines the challenge, which we’ve summarised from an article by culture change specialist Torben Rick:

An organisation’s culture is deeply embedded in the system and is therefore extremely difficult to change. Changing an organisation’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges. That’s because an organisation’s culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions.

Why is an organisation’s culture difficult to change? Here are some reasons why:

  • The culture of an organisation is practically its DNA. Culture determines how everything else in the organisation unfolds. As Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
  • The organisation and its culture are reciprocal and interdependent: the organisation, its design and strategies influence its overall culture and vice versa
  • An organisation’s culture reflects its deepest values and beliefs. Trying to change it can call into question everything the organisation holds dear, often without that conscious intention
  • The culture of an organisation is embedded in the entire organisational system. Each little change effects every layer of that system
  • Organisational culture evolves over time. An organisation’s identity is based on its culture, which is deeply linked to its history and development

Let’s not forget that organisational culture is like an iceberg with most of its weight and bulk below the surface.

You will undoubtedly have some of your favourite texts on culture change. We have one for you to look at focusing on organisational change in the public sector, in this case in Scotland. The author emphasises that a hierarchical culture presents special challenges, and that inter-agency initiatives have implications for the culture of each distinct agency involved.

In the interests of bringing many different perspectives, we also include an article entirely focused on the private sector, entitled “make your values mean something”. We will really need to make the values in our new public service act show every day, in all of us. So there is something you may be able to draw out of this article.

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