E-Update - 17 November

It has been widely acknowledged that the Covid-19 crisis has transformed aspects of the way our sector functions. We use technology in a way we never imagined, flexible working accelerated, methods of teaching and training changed, and much more. The technologies we now use regularly were available early in 2020, but not widely adopted. Covid-19 acted as a dramatic catalyst. We would never have made these shifts without the pandemic, perhaps we did not appreciate that we had the individual and collective capability to do what we have done.

The Spirit of Service Awards event on November 9th, run by the Public Service Commission, was inspiring; a testament to the ability of the public service to respond and transform beyond all expectations. The collaboration across so many agencies sung out in these awards, as well as the speed with which agencies implemented financial support to businesses and their workers.

So we are capable of extraordinary achievements. How will we dramatically transform in 2021 without an external crisis? There are certainly enough burning platforms.

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


Public Sector 101 - A Flexible Online Learning Resource for Individuals, Teams or Organisations

We are thrilled with the response to our new online learning resource – Public Sector 101.

We have had great feedback from users about the varied and relevant content as well as the flexibility of how it is delivered.

As one user said, "Having started in a new role I am grateful for the guidance Public Sector 101 provides. It is great to hear from a range of presenters and the video and workbook content make it easy to digest and work through. I look forward to working through each of the modules at my own pace, and the ability to revisit them when I need a refresher."

Public Sector 101 will be available through 2020-2021 and beyond. You can sign-up and work through the resource anytime that suits you and your organisation.

Public Sector 101 has a range of sign up options – individuals can sign up when they choose, we can help with group/team sign ups at discounted rates, and the resource is available for organisations to purchase and add to your toolbox of training materials; you can even wrap your own facilitated sessions around the resource.

We received this message from former DPMC Chief Executive and career public servant Maarten Wevers: "I have read the whole suite of papers. Together they give a good overview, and should be very helpful. I don't recall ever receiving a briefing on all of these moving parts when I started as a public servant in 1977!!"

Please contact us if you have any questions, we are happy to talk through all the options and can meet with you if needed. We have designed access to the resource to be as flexible as possible - we want to make sure you can use this resource in ways that work best for you and your organisation.

Management Behaviours and Their Impact on Resilience

Shenagh Gleisner talked with Geoff Plimmer from Victoria University and Esme Franken from the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. They are undertaking research looking at resilience in the workplace, including thinking about management behaviours that enhance or hinder resilience.

We have given a very brief account on our website of the behaviours that can support and undermine resilience, which are emerging from their interviews and focus groups. You can read this summary here.

Managers may find it useful in the quest to continually improve.

Putting it Right "Ki te hoe tātou"

In IPANZ’s Public Sector journal coming out very soon, we have an opinion editorial written by Victoria University of Wellington Te Kawa a Māui | School of Māori Studies lecturer Dr Mike Ross (Ngāti Hauā). We were inspired by the BWB book “Imagining Decolonisation” so we asked Mike to give IPANZ some challenging comments to help us think about our Maori/Crown relations. Ka rawe Mike.

You can read the opinion piece here on our website.

New Approaches to Service Delivery

The Centre for Public Impact is exploring how to change service delivery, to a greater “enablement” approach instead of a “delivery” approach. Three underlying shifts, which you can read more about here, are:

  • subsidiarity - the idea that decision-making rights should reside at the lowest possible level in a system,
  • localism - which stresses the importance of local accountability mechanisms and decision rights,
  • the importance of place as the dominant organising principle rather than hierarchical service silos.

One example illustrates it. It is called Buurtzorg, which means ‘neighbourhood care’ in Dutch, and it has achieved far higher patient and staff satisfaction than the previous approach, has good outcomes and is no more expensive. It involves a self-managed group of nurses available 24/7 but most of them part time, with regional coaches, place being dominant, learning by doing and with no formal management structures.

Experience Bias and Performance Reviews

Two writers in Psychology Today have written about why the typical performance review is overwhelmingly biased. This brief article tells us something we already know, which is that we believe our own interpretations of the world constitute the objective truth. People perceive the world differently and no one interpretation is definitively correct.

This emphasises the importance of appreciating that we have biases. It is all possible to manage, we just have to be aware of and acknowledge bias and do our best to reduce its impact.

A Journey to a Better Place Cannot be Undertaken Alone

In a one page think piece published by the McGuinness Institute, Michael Cullen asks a question about New Zealand post COVID-19. His question is about the ability of the public sector to work in depth with others to achieve community well-being.

This is the challenge that caught our eye: "Hopefully, looking ten years down the track, we could see a leaner, more agile, more interactive bureaucracy working with many different partners towards shared goals. At the moment we have a team of five million where part of the team wants to keep the ball all the time and the rest run around in circles".

Find out more about H2R here


Policy and Pizza - Wellington, 7 December, 12.00-1.30pm

Our policy and pizza event is for new professionals who work in policy in government, or whose job involves some aspects of policy making.

Participants will have the opportunity to apply two of the Policy Project tools and learn more about how to use them in their work to build their skills and policy craft:

  • Policy Quality Framework – a tool used by policy practitioners to improve the quality of their advice and ensure it is fit for purpose.
  • Development Pathways Tool – an online tool used by policy practitioners to identify the practical actions they can take to build their policy skills.

If you’re a new professional working as a policy advisor/analyst, you can find out more and register here.

IPANZ End of Year Event - Wellington, 10 December, 5.30-7.30pm

In the past, our End of Year Event has looked back at the highlights and lowlights of the year that was. And what a challenging and potentially transformational year 2020 was!

This year, we want our End of Year Event to look ahead to 2021, to consider the fantastic opportunities that lie ahead for the public sector – we want to talk about radical ideas for improving Public Sector performance.

Our panellists will kick off the session by presenting their challenging ideas, and a big part of this event is to hear our audience.

Tickets are very limited. Find out more and register here.


LGNZ: Is there a Role for Local Government in the New Health and Disability Framework — Free Webinar, 2 December, 12.30pm-1.30pm

The evidence is clear that most of our health is created in the places in which we are born, live, work, age and play. The pandemic has only reinforced that we need more secure and empowered local communities, able to act effectively on their own wellbeing. Consequently, responsiveness to place is critical for an effective health and disability system; it needs to be recognised in the way in which our health and disability system is organised.

With our health and disability sector facing its most significant changes for two decades, it is timely to reflect on how the interests of communities and whanau will be given effect. LGNZ invites you to a webinar where you can hear a range of panellists consider this question from a number of perspectives.

Panellists include:

• Anna Matheson: Senior Lecturer in Health Policy VUW;

• Ian Powell; Health commentator and former Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

• Steve Chadwick; Mayor Rotorua Lakes District

Register in advance here.

Find out more about The Johnson Group here


Think Tanks and Their Influence

We have seen challenges to democratic institutions in parts of the world in recent months. This made us think more about the influence of think tanks. Think tanks can be a source of strength and diversity in a country, bringing a range of perspectives and advice to governments. In some countries however, the source of funding is not always transparent or the impartiality of their work uncertain. This lack of transparency creates unease.

A think tank can be defined as ‘a body of experts providing advice and ideas on specific political or economic problems’. They can provide a platform to introduce new ideas and provoke public debate on the critical issues of the day and in so doing expand the scope of the debate. They are usually research institutes and can also engage in advocacy. They often seek to play a key role in making and influencing global, regional and national policy.

You can read here a straight forward definition of think tanks focussed on the UK. It also describes the key think tanks in the UK, noting their income. This paper says that think tanks often have two central claims about themselves: their expertise and independence.

It is the independence which is specifically questioned in this brief article by George Monbiot. This is not a recent article, but it enquires into who funds these organisations in order to explore independence.

The Types of Think Tanks in New Zealand

New Zealand does not have the number or variety of think tanks compared with the UK and the USA, for example, our population being so much smaller.

We know what various commentators consider to be think tanks in New Zealand, but we could not find a comprehensive recent listing. Where Aotearoa New Zealand think tanks are discussed they include variously for example a number of institutes within universities (e.g. Victoria University of Wellington’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Koi Tu: The Centre for Informed Futures at the University of Auckland) research bodies (e.g. Motu) independent agencies often charitable trusts (e.g. Maxim Institute, McGuinness Institute) and many more. The New Zealand Initiative describes itself as “New Zealand’s leading think tank”.

The public service and the Government can benefit from ideas emanating from independent bodies. Not just ideas or critique, but solutions. Do we have enough think tanks informing policy and practice, from a wide enough spectrum of views from business to community? How is the quality of the research and analysis judged, and how to discern bias? If the existence of more high quality think tanks in Aotearoa New Zealand would enhance advice to Government, then what would incentivise the creation of outstanding agencies? IPANZ is keen to explore this question further and would like to hear your views.


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