IPANZ E-Update - 12 October 2021

This week, IPANZ put a post on our social media which talked of the frustrations and fear abounding in New Zealand, creating fractures, challenging trust, promoting blame as everyone grapples with the insecurity and threat created by COVID-19. We imagine public servants may be feeling the pressures of dealing each day with this frustration amongst the people they serve. As people seek to apportion blame (which is so often not appropriate in this complex picture) we hope public servants are coping with the anger or negativity that may be expressed towards them.

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


A View of New Zealand's Response to COVID-19 in a "Noisy World"

The uncertainty around COVID-19 is creating unease about what lies ahead. There is concerted and strong action from government and communities to pull out the stops to mitigate the risk by pushing for vaccination. Some things done well, some not so well.

Just imagine what we could achieve if we felt the similar urgency about other crises we face, including climate change and biodiversity loss. The McGuinness Institute have conceived of the challenges we face as " a noisy world". A helpful concept for understanding our responses to threats. You can look at a brief summary of this on our website. Within this summary is a link to the slide deck from the McGuinness Institute laying their assessment of New Zealand’s response to COVID-19. Worth dipping into.

Growing Innovation in the Public Sector

We are offering our members a series of articles in the next four e-updates to talk about innovation. In this first article we introduce a very brief account of the Innovation Barometer created and run by Creative HQ. In subsequent articles we will show you one case study which very well illustrates the value which flows from this innovative work. We will also present to you an analysis of the key themes emerging from many case studies which give rich learning for central and local government agencies.

Start today by looking at how the Innovation Barometer works. This is a brief account, with links for you to dig deeper if you wish.

Learn more about the Certificate in Innovation Delivery here

Getting Your Message Across in the Media

There is a perennial challenge and opportunity for public servants, getting the message across in the media and managing reputation. You can read a very helpful little piece with great tips for good media communication prepared for IPANZ by SenateSHJ.

Every bit of advice in this brief two page account will be super useful to you all. Enjoy it, use it!

Being an Ally for Ethnic Communities

IPANZ ran a fully booked (but socially distanced!) address by Mervin Singham the Chief Executive of the new Ministry for Ethnic Communities. It is worth watching the recording of his talk and viewing his presentation slides to hear the stories of subtle racism he has personally experienced and witnessed over his career, and to hear about the significance of our superdiverse country.

We took away some very important messages. First, how superdiverse we are in Aotearoa/New Zealand - 223 different ethnicities and 191 languages. And a strong reminder that serving ethnic communities does not only mean doing the “right thing”. It is also about doing the “bright thing” because valuing what ethnic communities can contribute to New Zealand society and our economy requires us to deeply listen and learn so much more keenly than we do now.

"None of Us See Risk Clearly"

We have blind spots about risk, individually and collectively. We would benefit from a much more sophisticated approach towards estimations and reactions to risk. This little article makes the point that whilst it is tempting to try to anticipate and pin down and get prepared for all possible risks from now, it is much more important for us to develop resilience and adaptability. This lesson applies to government and the public service as well as individually.

Let’s remember that we exaggerate fears of dramatic risks, and react, and underestimate slow and invisible risks, and fail to react. Public servants are often criticised for being risk averse – maybe this implies risk as binary and is far too simplistic?

Find out more about H2R here


The IPANZ Public Sector Conference has been postponed until Tuesday 22 February 2022. We have informed all speakers, sponsors and people who have registered. We remain absolutely committed to a high quality, in person conference. We could not hold to our November date with the uncertainty, some of our speakers so busy, the prospect of travel from Auckland in doubt, and could not allow an unsafe event. We are simply delighted with the response from our speakers who are able to book in our February date, and to our sponsors.

Thank you everyone for your understanding and patience.

IPANZ is committed to do all we can to support the lift in digital capability and leadership in the public service. There is urgency in achieving this lift. So much energy is being expended on current urgent COVID-19 crisis, but important digital transformation initiatives should not be neglected if at all possible. We do hope you take advantage of these two terrific opportunities to learn -

Leadership for Digital Transformation

WELLINGTON, Wednesday 3 November, 5.00pm-7.00pm

There is great pressure on the public service, and every public servant, to continually step up to deliver digital services that are modern, efficient, safe and secure. It means doing things differently using new mindsets, skills and data, as well as technologies.

Naomi Ferguson, Shayne Hunter and Pia Andrews will be in conversation with IPANZ president Liz MacPherson. They explore a vision for the future, the path to get there, enablers and barriers, and discuss the capabilities required by public service leaders and their staff.

Read more and register here

Leading Digital Programmes to Transform Public Services

ONLINE, 4, 11 & 18 November, 12.00pm-12.45pm

For some time, there has been a push towards ‘digital transformation’ but typically more than 80% of public sector transformation efforts fail to meet their objectives. Today that desire to offer a digital-first experience has been replaced by a need. Demands have changed and organisations in every sector across every region have had to ramp up their digital efforts. Now all eyes are on governments to keep up.

This series of 3 online seminars explores how we can improve the digital experience governments offer, how we can effectively and efficiently roll out the projects needed to bring digital platforms up to date and, finally, how we measure and communicate the success of those projects, far beyond the point at which they go live.

Read more and register here


“If our governance system of Finland had never been invented what kind of system would we invent now”. In this paper, this is the question put in Finland. A fascinating question for Aotearoa/New Zealand too. At a time when so much has been challenged and changed. Finland shares with Aotearoa/New Zealand many key strengths in its public administration system which give a strong foundation for potential developments.

IPANZ noted three overriding findings from this work so far

  • There is a big emphasis upon steering mechanisms and structures. They talk of new collaborative architectures and greater mobility across silos. Efforts were made in the Public Service Act to build these here, and COVID-19 has certainly increased mobility across silos. But have we gone far enough, are they working well enough and can they be sustained?
  • A further emphasis was upon refreshing our policy development largely more open and inclusive policy processes to counter biases and group think. Policy processes which more strongly engage citizens and other stakeholders. More than this, a greater emphasis upon more anticipatory policy making skills and a much more iterative, and evaluative testing, over time.
  • A final emphasis is upon the need for more emphasis on, and systematic approach to, foresight and futures work, particularly in fiscal planning and budgeting. We have been caught out with our long-term thinking, it is often reported as weak, and we have enormous challenges ahead particularly in climate change.

We have numerous reforms to implement. So, whilst answering the question noted at the outset – a reinvention of aspects of our public management system building on the Public Service Act - may not appropriate for now, then when would it be?

Find out more about The Johnson Group here

Stay In-Touch With Us

If you found this e-update useful, please share it 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.

An if you've received this e-update indirectly and would like to sign up to our mailing list, please email us at admin@ipanz.org.nz