IPANZ E-Update - 27 April 2021

There is a lot of change going on! We are still in the midst of the reform of vocational education, the health system transformation is far reaching. There was an announcement about the review of local government last week. These three alone are significant pieces of work for a public sector already stretched.

IPANZ first acknowledges the skill, and commitment that public servants show when delivering on a government's aspiration for significant change. The complexity of this work demands capabilities and capacity that may be in short supply, or spread thinly, because of the numbers of projects and specialist skills required.

In the video below Cheryl Barnes talked about looking after staff to avoid burnout. I am sure this is being carefully thought about, it is critical we avoid impossible demands on a few key people with the change and structural design skills now needed in so many parts of the sector.


An All of Government Programme

You will hopefully have watched Michael Baker’s speech featured in our last e-update. Have a look now at the accomplished presentation delivered by Cheryl Barnes who is the Deputy Chief Executive of the COVID-19 group in DPMC. Her account celebrates the public service working collaboratively through an extraordinary period. But she is also insightful about lessons learnt for the future – mentioning the importance of looking after people who have a very high load of work, clarifying roles and responsibilities across the system and avoiding being too internally focused.

An Insight into the Impacts of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities

As Robyn Hunt says in this article from the Spinoff “to always be the outsider is a lonely place”. Disabled people are four times more likely than non-disabled people to report feeling lonely most or all the time. The problem was exacerbated by COVID-19. She recommends reading the report from the Helen Clarke Foundation and the firm WSP ‘Still Alone Together How Loneliness changed in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020 and what it means for public policy’ . The report is produced as an accessible pdf and in plain language formats.

We note here just three of the recommendations: close the digital divide, help communities do their magic, and create friendly streets and neighbourhoods. But all the recommendations are important.

Māori Business Leads the Way

The Productivity Commission has published its final inquiry report into how to lift the performance of New Zealand’s most productive (“frontier”) firms.

There is a very positive story about Māori firms and their current and potential contribution to the New Zealand economy. To quote just one example, “Māori authorities and SMEs are more likely to export and have higher rates of innovation and R&D, than other New Zealand firms”. Furthermore, Māori values help differentiate Māori goods and services and provide added brand value overseas.

Māori firms offer valuable lessons for other New Zealand firms. Read here, the two-page summary from the Productivity Commission.

Good Ideas Take Time

The value of think tanks has been in the news recently. IPANZ is introducing a debate on the subject in our next Journal, in an interesting new format. Further than this, in our last journal we presented a set of “radical” ideas written by IPANZ members. Indeed, one of them is to be published in Australia through our partner agency there. So good ideas spread!

The attached article written by Oliver Hartwich some years ago now, describes the work of a think tank in the United Kingdom to illustrate how “good ideas take time” It is an amusing read and illustrates how it may be worth persisting with ideas that are thoroughly rejected at the time!

A Cautionary Tale about the Management of Big Risks

The opening of this blog makes the point that the COVID-19 crisis served as a stress test for governments around the world in their handling of risks and disasters. Lessons can often be drawn from other countries – five relevant ones IPANZ drew out from this account include:

  • explicitly build resilience and adaptability into the system;
  • ensure some spare capacity in the system;
  • put senior decision-makers, including politicians, through emotionally compelling simulations;
  • never hollow out the system so much that eyes cannot be focused on the long-term;
  • involve broad-based experts from many fields.

Find out more about H2R here


Refreshing Human Rights for Our Time and Place - The Crucial and Constructive Role of the Public Service

Wellington, Tuesday 25 May, 12.00-1.00pm

Paul Hunt, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner, argues that the public service is in a unique and strong position to advance New Zealand’s national and international human rights promises. If human rights are in the policy-mix early in the policy-making process, they can help officials design effective, robust, inclusive policies.

A skillful public official promotes human rights for everyone in Aotearoa.

Read more and register here

Find out more about The Johnson Group here

WHAT WE'RE READING   (well...watching!)

Radically Reinventing Social Systems

This is just the right video for you to watch on your commute to work – as long as your journey is just over 15 minutes long! Very lively and immersive presentation of a new way of looking at service, in this instance, employment services.

The approach Hilary Cotton describes would apply to many social services. It stresses reinforcing relationships and supporting what exists already, at its core. It uses technology to connect. It creates capabilities in people, so much more than just delivering what someone needs. It reframes the problems in the terms of the end user, not our institutions. And its outcomes are impressive.

Worth having a look.


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