IPANZ E-Update - 17 May 2022

A concern has been on my mind this week, illustrated in this e-update. One is the comment in one of these articles suggesting that, if the culture of the public service prompts us to be frightened of taking risks, this can stifle effective responses. Then I listened carefully to the words of our Chief Executives in a webinar we ran on collaborative work. I felt they were urging us to be motivated to overcome what might seem like barriers at first, but were not as insurmountable as we might think. They also talked about their own leadership imperative to create a culture that enables and supports new thinking and fresh action.

Shenagh Gleisner, Executive Director


The Future is Māori – The Dynamism of the Māori Economy

Just take a look at this data:

  • Te Ohanga Māori has grown in value from $42.6b in 2013 to $68.7bn in 2018
  • Between 2013 and 2018, the Māori population grew by 30% but the number of Māori in employment grew by 47%
  • Māori values are crucial and Māori business leverage their unique identify and value to strengthen their value proposition

In reporting on this work, the Institute of Directors says that an understand of Te Ao Māori is a core competency for all New Zealand Directors.

Lessons Learnt from COVID-19 to Improve Health and Social Care Statistics

A report from the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge has some interesting insights on lessons learnt from COVID-19. Some highlights include:

  • Information available from care homes is a “neglected area of public data”
  • Never assume public consent is fixed – people worry about linked data
  • Transparency and accessibility is absolutely key
  • A persons lived experience cannot be reduced to a single data point, always use qualitative data

A helpful and brief summary with potential relevance for New Zealand.

The Pandemics' Disproportionate Impact on Women

There are some very challenging insights in this article from The Conversation. For example, in 2020 women made up 90% of pandemic-related redundancies, and in 2021 many more women were working in precarious jobs.

Some countries have advocated prioritising local feminist and indigenous knowledge as they build back from COVID-19. The take up of these initiatives has however been minimal. What we can say is that genuinely gender-responsive policies are needed, but are we seeing them?

Encouraging Public Sector Managers to Embrace Risk

We came across a striking phrase in this article, referring to the Australian public service as facing a “creeping crisis” of effectiveness and legitimacy. The authors argue that the fear of failure in the institutional culture of the public service is stopping important new approaches for public servants being developed. Both innovation and new thinking are needed more now than ever, so why is there a “widening skills gap between the public and private sectors use of creative problem-solving methods, enabled by new technologies?"

This is probably a crisis for all public sectors. This article, reported by ANZSOG who worked with Professor Beth Novek of GovLab and Professor Rod Cover of MSDI. This issue requires our attention.

It is Confirmed, Meetings are a Waste of Time

This is the rather challenging conclusion in this large research study! This report concludes that organisations who have an approach of two days a week completely free of meetings, were the most productive. They say that, for example, a full diary of meetings can be a bit of a status symbol and that the cost of large groups of people at meetings (when potentially not all of them need to be there) are very high.

When meetings were reduced, on every metric there was improvement….“Micro-managing came down when there were less meetings, and stress came down… autonomy increased, communication was better, there was better co-operation, there was better engagement, there was better productivity, and there was better satisfaction.”

Of course, they acknowledge that meetings have a human purpose and value, that some decision-making processes benefit from people in the room (or on the screen together) and much more.

But it does prompt us to really ask “is this meeting, with these people, really the best way to handle what we are trying to achieve?”

Learn more about H2R here


Systemic Change in the Public Service to Better Enable Collaboration - A Webinar Series

We are currently delivering a three-webinar series building on work done before by IPANZ and the Productivity Commission and others. We are looking specifically on the role of the public service in enabling collaboration, and on practical changes that are taking place to achieve this.

The last webinar is tomorrow, Wednesday 18 May at 11.00am, not too late to register.

All three webinars will be posted on our IPANZ past events page. So you can, in your own time, dig into what was said by our speakers.

You can view the recording of the second webinar, with Andrew Kibblewhite, Peter Mersi and Lil Anderson here. It focusses on the capability, mindset, relationships and leadership needed to improve our ability to collaborate. We believe it gives empowering messages to everyone working in the public service and encourage you to have a look.

New Professionals Budget Event - Thursday 2 June, 5.30-7.00pm, WELLINGTON
Join the New Professionals Leadership Team at this in-person event, to learn more about the government budget process, hear from young professionals who have worked on budget proposals for their agency and compete for a prize in the napkin budget challenge!

Register here

Learn more here


This is not a book recommendation - it is a very nicely written piece about being paid to read books! But it is not just reading a book, it is analysing it in a depth that might destroy the pleasure of reading. Catherine Woulfe discovered that what looked like a great return on her time - $300 to read a book – was far from as appealing as it first seemed.

Learn more about The Johnson Group here

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