Teamwork key to building a modern Public Service

We hear a lot said about teamwork, and how working together towards a shared goal makes the chances of success so much greater.

It’s an easy thing to say.  The challenging part of course is making it happen, to really embrace the strengths of all team members.

I’m raising this topic because it’s something I’ve been thinking about, and also something that Public Service chief executives and I discussed at a retreat last week.  Many of you probably wonder what we talk about at these retreats.  The short answer is: plenty.  On this occasion the importance of teamwork and how we work effectively as a team was a strong focus.

I’ll tell you why.

The Public Service has come a long way in recent times.  There have been a lot of changes to help us deliver better services and get better results.

You’ll have heard about Better Public Services, or BPS, which for the past five years has been about improving the stuff that matters to New Zealanders’ wellbeing, like ensuring kids are safe and healthy, reducing crime, and getting people off benefits and into work.

Now we have a multi-year programme of work we’re calling BPS 2, which builds on BPS.  In a nutshell it’s about strengthening the Public Service as a whole, so we’ve got a single, unified and future-proof service that can do the job in front of us.

This means a bunch of things have to happen.  It means we have to strengthen our core principles, such as offering free, frank and fearless advice.  It means greater collaboration, better organising our roles and processes, better managing data, improving digital services, strengthening leadership, building diversity, and a whole lot more.

Some of this might seem a bit distant from the work you do every day.  But it actually matters to every public servant, because all of us have a stake in building a modern public service that meets the needs of all New Zealanders.

And we’ll reach our goal if we move forward together, displaying teamwork, challenging each other’s thinking.  As I said at the start of this post, it’s challenging, but I know we’re good at this stuff as the BPS experience has shown.

An American management guru once said that none of us is as smart as all of us. I think that pretty much sums up the approach we need to take as we tackle the BPS 2 project.


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Last updated: 
22 June 2017