IPANZ E-Update - 23 February 2021

This e-update illustrates the diverse matters that public sector professionals turn their minds to every day, for example - trust and integrity, systems thinking, racism and co-design, to name a few.

We are also letting you know about two upcoming events that focus on the learnings from the response to COVID-19.

Public servants are increasingly trusted by New Zealanders – have a look below. They will have learnt, through 2020, that they have more agility, more resilience, more connections than they thought possible. This should provide confidence and reassurance that new challenges in 2021 can be overcome.


Trust and Confidence in the Public Service at an All-Time High

The Kiwis Count survey brings us heartening news - a sharp increase in trust and confidence in New Zealand’s Public Service. This is on top of recent international measures that underline a high level of trust and confidence in the Public Service. Te Kawa Mataaho have just launched a new ‘trust and confidence’ page on their website highlighting these findings. Have a look. We can never rest on our laurels, trust builds up over time, but can be lost quickly.

A Radical Reinvention of Corporate Governance

In this article for the Aotearoa Circle, Jane Taylor, an experienced Director, has some sound advice, relevant for Boards, but for us all to consider after the Climate Change Commission report.

She outlines three key things that all Boards can and must now do:

  • insist on the integration of sustainability into core strategy across your organisation;
  • focus your attention on the climate emergency; and
  • commit to reduce CO2 emissions.

Attitudes and Values that can Get in the Way of 'Systems Change'

Systems thinking involves approaching complexity by looking at wholes and relationships, integrating all the different parts, rather than seeing each part in isolation. We think we will be hearing more about systems change in 2021.

The authors of “The Thou Shalt Nots of Systems Changehere (noted recently in an ANSOG newsletter) discuss the common stumbling blocks. The ones that stood out for us include:

  • Resourcing must be set aside to maintain partnerships.
  • We may need to temper the priority we put upon speed and action; ideas evolve.
  • Systems change needs a change in mindset, especially requires humility and introspection.
  • The need to celebrate the process, not just the outcome and welcome iteration.

If the public sector is intent on being a good partner, these and other barriers will need attention.

'Failing Well' - Anticipating, Handling and Recovering

In our recent member survey, our members asked to hear more about public service failures and learning from them. We found a major piece of work from the UK, the executive summary on pages 3 to 5 will give you many insights, including:

  • Peer to peer support between similar organisations is effective in getting in early to avoid failures. Yet troubled organisations may be more insular and have weak connections.
  • Structural reform is much less effective to turn failures around than refreshed leadership.
  • An internal culture that values honest reporting of problems was crucial.
  • When the ownership of failure is shared then the responses to failure can be about the whole system contributing to improvement.

The purpose of raising this subject is to encourage more open sharing about the underlying causes of failures and the recovery process. But does personal finger-pointing and blame create a barrier to this openness?

Challenge to Recognise Racism in our Systems

Dr Rhys Jones described what he sees as embedded racism in the health system, writing in E-Tangata in September 2020. He says “If we don’t foster a critical understanding of how racism operates in these settings, we’ll keep trying to solve the wrong problem”. Being aware of how racism operates matters to all public sector professionals.

You can read his article in full here.

Find out more about H2R here


2021 IPANZ Annual Address with Hon Grant Robertson

The Deputy Prime Minister Hon Grant Robertson, delivered the 2021 IPANZ Annual Address at the Beehive Thursday 18 February, talking about the Government’s priorities for the year.

We recorded his full speech, you can watch it here

Parliament in Practice - Wellington, 5 March, 9.15am-3.20pm

There are spaces available for this popular seminar - register now to secure your place.

Parliament in Practice provides attendees with a unique opportunity to learn about the operations of Parliament, from those working within Parliament 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.

Leadership, Co-ordination and Collaboration Across Government - Wellington, 19 March, 12.00-1.00pm

The New Zealand public sector faced one of its toughest challenges as part of New Zealand’s response to COVID-19. With the new Public Service Act heralding ever greater collaboration, we will surely see more and more cross-government working. We need to learn the lessons so that we get better and better at it. Leading an all-of-government programme in a crisis may be easier and more difficult than business as usual. What do you think?

Read more and register here

Michael Baker - New Zealand's Management of COVID-19 - Wellington, 25 March, 12.00-1.00pm

Save the Date - Michael Baker has agreed to share his thoughts with IPANZ members on New Zealand's management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Event details to follow shortly...

Find out more about The Johnson Group here


Co-Design in Aotearoa New Zealand: A Snapshot of the Literature

Dr Penny Hagen, one of the authors of this helpful review was telling IPANZ that the word co-design is so often misused that the community are starting to distrust the word. It is in danger of becoming devalued of meaning. The term co-design is in fact used interchangeably with a set of other terms: participatory design, experience-based design, co-production, human-centered design and others.

Co-design done well can have a profound impact. But more scholarship is needed – research is not keeping pace with practice.

The authors review some sound examples, including in public sector departments such as IRD, the Ministry of Health’s healthy homes initiative, redesigning the journey of care in hospitals in New Zealand, and a Maori-led work on smoking.

The biggest warning is that there are widely differing expectations about what co-design means, and we often lack the conditions to really support the partnering and powersharing that it infers.

You will find in this document a comprehensive list of, and abstracts from, helpful New Zealand literature on co-design.


If you found this update useful, please share with your friends and colleagues. We're always looking to reach more people with our news, events and insights. If you have friends and colleagues in Christchurch and Auckland, we would be particularly happy to hear from them.

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