IPANZ E-Update - 2 February 2021

Welcome to 2021. We hope you enjoy this E-Update.

IPANZ celebrates and stands up for the public service, as you will see in this update. But we also offer insights for improvements, one is our wellbeing strategy – can we do better? Another is an operational question – are we doing as well as possible with our performance management in the public service?

We offer two interesting articles about approaches to supporting greater collaboration and potential devolution to communities.

And we share a global summary of the impact of COVID-19 on democratic freedoms, a question we must always continue to ask.

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


The Well-Being Approach in Wales Provides Lessons for New Zealand

The critique of the way in which New Zealand is implementing its wellbeing approach is increasing. This one-page article prepared for IPANZ, draws some comparisons between New Zealand and Wales. Surely we can do better, for example being much more forward looking, being more led by place-based communities and having greater independent oversight.

Watch this space, we will be covering more on this subject.

IPANZ Championing the Public Service

Simon Wilson wrote an interesting article in the Weekend Herald on 16 January 2021 about democracy and the importance of addressing racism, climate change and inequality. It is a thoughtful article, but near the end he pops in this statement. “Government’s commitment to progressive change … has been obstructed by officials throughout the public service”. He gives no evidence for this statement.

IPANZ responded in a letter to the editor - written by the President of IPANZ it was published in the Herald. The letter makes clear that democracy, and public service, are not well served by such unsubstantiated claims. You can read it here.

Can Performance Management in the Public Sector be Improved?

Kendra Hill and Geoff Plimmer, from Victoria University are conducting research on performance management, looking at the literature and exploring how it is operating in the public service. This is research in progress, but IPANZ asked for a summary of some of the findings from interviews with the people leaders of knowledge workers, which you can read here. Some of the findings include:

  • Mundane day to day management gets in the way of performance management;
  • Performance management systems are weak;
  • Support from Human Resources is limited;
  • It is hard to dismiss low performers;
  • The purpose of public servants’ work is strong so financial incentives matter less.

Have we got an "Enabling State"?

The public service can shift more from a top down and one size fits all approach, to one which supports people and communities to achieve positive change for themselves. The Carnegie Foundation has articulated 7 steps for public services to take as they move more towards this paradigm. Just two of these steps, to whet your appetite are “build in radical kindness” and “give people permission to take control”. This brief article sums it up well.

Have Legislatures Held Government to Account During COVID-19?

The coronavirus pandemic can challenge democracy. It appears that democratic freedoms were undermined in 83 countries from March to September 2020. We have an analysis here of what the authors of the V-Dem Institute call “Pandemic Backsliding” where they have tracked the effectiveness of COVID-19 measures on democratic standards in 144 countries. Before you read it, guess what the map of the world of democratic violations looks like and check your expectations.

The IPANZ Member Survey - You Like What We Are Doing, Thank You

Feedback from our member survey tells us you are happy with what we communicate with you, and the subjects we cover are mostly right for you. You would like a bit more on future thinking, concrete insights from practitioners, climate change, complexity and to ensure we talk about failures, not just successes.

Your feedback suggests that you have little time to read articles outside your daily work. So we will continue to make our introductory paragraphs in our E-Update brief, but with the nugget of good information to encourage you to click into the articles. We are here to inform and inspire and challenge and that will inevitably mean longer, more in-depth articles sometimes.

We were also concerned that some of you said you do not see the Public Sector Journal. Please note that all staff in member organisations can access the Journal. We always send out a note when it is available, with a very brief summary of a few articles. It is a member benefit so please just log in on our website. Ask if you need help della@ipanz.org.nz

Find out more about H2R here


IPANZ Annual Address with Hon Grant Robertson - Wellington, 18 February, 11.00am-12.00pm

The IPANZ Annual Address kicks off our event programme for the year. Join us to hear, Hon Grant Robertson, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance outline the government's priorities for the year.

Register here


Think Big, Act Small: Devolving Decisions to Communities

COVID-19 has accelerated demands for reform of the way we work. The work of Elinor Ostrom was ahead of her time. Her solutions span political divides. She is talking about a move away from pre-conceived ideals that are imposed from above, to a more genuine self-governance where ideals are derived from communities discovering, cataloging and analysing what works for themselves.

This document merits reading. It contains case studies and in-practice examples from her country, the UK. There will be many examples from Aotearoa/New Zealand which IPANZ would love to hear about which will illustrate the insights and conditions for community power.

Here are some of the principles, which underlie the recommendations from this excellent work

  • Communities can manage their own resources sustainably often without excessive regulation or privatisation. But systems must be designed for specific places.
  • Democracy is more meaningful at the local level. Legitimacy and social trust can only flourish when people have a reasonable expectation of influence over things that affect their lives. The rights of communities to create and run local systems must be respected.
  • There are no one-size fits all solutions, we must have a dynamic system that permits experimentation. Each community is different and will take different approaches.

If you read the executive summary, which is just 5 pages long (pages 7-11) it will give you a good guide. It may tempt you to read further.

Find out more about The Johnson Group here


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