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Podcast Article June 20th, 2023

Reimagining Government episode 7: transcript

🎙️ Reimagining Government

This podcast explores radical new approaches to addressing global issues such as the climate crisis, equitable healthcare provision, and rebuilding trust with marginalised communities. By speaking with public servants and politicians at the heart of government, we’ll shine a light on how to reimagine government so it works for everyone.

Listen to the seventh episode

[00:00:00] Adrian Brown: Hello and welcome to this very special wrap up episode of Reimagining Government. My name is Adrian Brown and I'm the Executive Director at the Centre for Public Impact, and today I'm joined by a couple of our amazing hosts to revisit highlights from the podcast, delve further into the topics we've covered, and hear updates from the changemakers that we've shone a light on in season one.

So, Let me just go right ahead and introduce the people alongside me. So first of all, Katie Rose, who's the Director of Europe at CPI and host of Reimagining Government, episode two. Katie, do you want to say hello?

[00:00:47] Katie Rose: Hi everyone.

Adrian Brown: And also we have Programme Manager at the Global Development Initiative at CPI and host of episode six, Javiera Godoy.

[00:00:56] Javiera Godoy: Hello, Adrian. Hello everyone.

[00:00:58] Adrian Brown: So thanks so much for joining me for this discussion and uh, certainly when I was thinking back across, uh, across all of the episodes and season one, there's so much ground covered. Uh, we've got a lot we could potentially talk about and we're not going to be able to cover everything of course, but, Just as a, an opening question for both of you, what stood out for you from season one, either from your episode or from one of the other episodes?

Katie, perhaps I'll start with you.

[00:01:23] Katie Rose: Yeah, thanks, Adrian. I think the thing that came up for me, both in my episode and across them was really what amazing leaders there are across the public service and that we got kind of privileged to be able to speak to, and it, it just continually makes me think: how can we make the conditions for those leaders to thrive and how can we create systems that enable those brilliant people to actually do the work that they come into the work to do?

And I think that was a real theme across a lot of our episodes. There's a real desire and passion for experimentation and learning across public services in the public sector, but there are system barriers in the way that I think we need to be brave and identify and think about how we can disrupt.

[00:02:09] Adrian Brown: Totally agree with that, Katie. And I think there was a real sense of optimism and hope across the series, uh, despite the fact that I think everyone was wrestling with those barriers that you mentioned there. Uh, and then we'll probably unpack some of those, uh, in the conversation we're about to have.

Javiera, what about you? What stood out?

[00:02:27] Javiera Godoy: I totally agree with what Katie was saying on like system barriers and how can we actually disrupt those. And I think that's something that really stood out for me on that is, how sometimes we think that we need to create methods, we need to create new things.

There is this like constant attempt to reinvent the wheel. And we talked about that, um, in our episode on global development. So we're talking about a different scale. What's really disruptive is, how can we actively act as ecosystem facilitators and orchestrators as Guilio Quaggiotto to set in our podcast episode.

So then we can like facilitate these ideas and great efforts that are already there instead of just like coming up top-down decisions and ideas and just imposing something instead of like being active listeners. 

[00:03:19] Adrian Brown: Maybe we can go right back. Cast your minds right back to episode one.

[00:03:30] SFX: Wigan itself is a very old place. It stands here roughly halfway between the crossing of the Mersey and the crossing of the river. 

Adrian Brown: Wigan is a borough in the North West of England sitting on the river Douglas. I fond memories of my childhood here and the strong sense of community. 

SFX: How would you describe the atmosphere of Wigan Market Hall? More or less a family, family atmosphere.

Adrian Brown: In episode one, we were looking at modern governance systems and we had changemakers from a range of backgrounds. So to remind us from that episode, let's hear a quick clip from Donna Hall. 

[00:04:12] Donna Hall: I think we realised back in 2011 we had a stark choice. Do we just start to cut services like other councils around us were doing, or do we start to try to change the way we work with residents so that it's more of a partnership rather than a transactional, paternalistic parent child relationship as very often happens with public services and the people that they serve?

Adrian Brown: Donna Hall is Chair of New Local and former Chief Executive of Wigan Council. From the years 2010 to 2014, during her time at Wigan Council, she led what became known as ‘The Deal’. 

Donna Hall: So The Deal was, um, uh, it describes a relationship, really. It's a strategy that's essentially about, let's you know we're in this together, we've got to work together to get through the worst effects of austerity. The Deal was a relationship. It was a partnership with citizens rather than a strategy developed in a darkened room by senior people in organisations and senior councillors.

It was opening ourselves up to new ideas from residents and a recognition that status quo wasn't really survivable, um, unless we wanted to be an emaciated version of the council that we were. 

Adrian Brown: Deal is composed of several smaller deals on healthcare, children's services, social services, and community funding. As Donna mentioned, it has been successful in many ways. Wigan Council has reduced its expenses, improved the public's trust in local government, frozen council tax, and improved health outcomes for citizens by creating The Deal, Wigan Council challenged unnecessary hierarchies and chose to collaborate across boundaries. A key principle of the emerging vision for government that Donna and other changemakers are spearheading. 

So Donna there was describing, um, a new way of really thinking about the role of government from, from one that was previously perhaps more hierarchical and, and technocratic to one that was more based on relationships and, and working with communities in a more bottom up way.

What, what was your thoughts on, on that, Javiera? It sounds, certainly to me, it sounds ideal, but I know in practice it can be enormously difficult to achieve.

[00:06:19] Javiera Godoy: I think that we were saying before, like how can we disrupt the system? And in this particular case, the insight is we're working in a really paternalistic way and we have to change that, but it's really, really challenging. And with The Deal, there's something that's happening here and. We are proposing a collaborative experimentation. This really works against our maybe more traditional idea of policy making when kind of like top down institutions are deciding what to do, with whom and how to implement it in cities, in governments, et cetera.

But then working against it and saying like, we have to create something that is collaborative so it can be sustainable in time. But we have to also test it to see if it works or not, and we're going to test it with people that have to be involved here. So I think that's one really good way in which we can start disrupting systems, learn from things that are already being done, and also think of new ways in which we can address these really wicked problems and challenging and things that are happening in government every day.

[00:07:26] Katie Rose: Yeah, I really agree with that. Javiera. This is really about making a choice, so this is about choosing to do things differently. I think Donna said it really clearly in that clip, which was they could either continue with what they were doing and make adjustments, or they could make a choice to do things differently.

And I think really sharing power is making that choice to do things differently. And we are doing some work at the moment in CPI Europe with researchers and victims of modern slavery with the University of Nottingham, and we're trying to support them to choose to do research and learning differently.

And I think, it really just highlights for me that we need leaders that are brave enough to, um, make that choice to do things differently and work with people in different ways, because that's what's really needed. Otherwise, we're never going to change the system around us.

Adrian Brown: And of course, with The Deal, the choice was, was imposed in the sense that they had to make such significant cuts that they realised, I think as Donna said, that the status quo was just, was just not an option.

But I, I do agree with you that, and that's not to diminish what Donna, what Donna did. Uh, I do agree with you, Katie, that how do you make that choice, that active choice when you're not being forced sort of to walk off the edge of the, the cliff and, you know, you, you're making it under more, um, benign circumstances maybe is an interesting question.

[00:08:53] Katie Rose: I also think it's about the how as well as what you do. So you're making a choice to do things differently, but as Javiera said, you are making a choice with how you engage in citizens in that doing, which I think can really make a difference. 

Adrian Brown: Let's hear another clip from episode one, Bruna Santos.

[00:09:14] Bruna Santos: Agile governance for me means the future of governance and, uh, the future of governance has four main characteristics. One is a less rigid model of deciding and doing things, getting things done and quickly. Uh, two is being more anticipatory. Anticipate the future. At the same time you are, uh, agile, you are, you are iterating your decisions and your models.

Three, a more collaborative and humble forms of leadership. An agile governance is a governance where you have leaders who are also collaborative and, uh, humble and four, of course people-centric, centred on users, on citizens, on people's needs.

Adrian Brown: I think Bruna does a pretty good job there of summarising many of the themes that, that we covered through the whole series. What are your reactions to what, what Bruna said?

[00:10:18] Katie Rose: I think it's really clear that for leaders to be able to make this choice, they need to accept that they don't have all the answers.

So what Bruna Santos talks about there is the need to be, to anticipate what, what, whatever comes, be humble in what you do and be people-centred in your reaction. And I think that means going into it without knowing the answer, but going into it with the intention to be those things, um, rather than to do X, Y, Z, 

Adrian Brown: Javiera, reflecting on that point, I think sometimes leaders find it difficult to acknowledge that they don't know something, as in my leadership. roles that I know it can be uncomfortable to say I don't, I don't really have the answer here. Is it realistic to expect public sector leaders, you know, up to and including politicians, to be that honest?

[00:11:09] Javiera Godoy: That's a really good question because. At the same time, we're dealing also with accountability. So what we're expecting is that citizens are kind of literally expecting that governments know everything, or sometimes they can give like all the answers. It's so important what we're talking here about how to bring more people in because we have to do that shift of mindsets all together.

So then for example, in this case, citizens can acknowledge that maybe governments don't hold, all the answers, and that's fine. And when Bruna is talking about how to anticipate futures, that's so key in bringing more people in. Because sometimes even when we're talking about, for example, like design futures, foresight, everything seems so like coming from such a privileged position of like a group of people being able to anticipate something when they don't actually have all the knowledge.

So in order to anticipate something, then we have to bring more voices in. So that kind of answer that we're creating together, incorporates as many views as possible and it's more realistic towards the future.

[00:12:21] Adrian Brown: Cities which generate more than 70% of global carbon emissions represent the biggest challenge and opportunity to slow global warming and to build sustainable, resilient communities.

They hold the key to slowing the effects of climate change by leading the charge towards a net zero resilient future. And many are stepping up to this awesome responsibility, but are they set up for success? What do city leaders need to make measurable progress before it's too late?

Let's keep moving on to episode two. So this was the episode where we were talking about the climate crisis. We had a range of speakers who were offering insights, particularly how to lessen the effects of the climate crisis through action in cities. That was our, our focus of this episode. So to get the conversation started, let's just quickly hear a clip from Sadhu Johnston who was sharing successes from the Greenest City Action Plan in Vancouver.

[00:13:22] Sadhu Johnston: When I moved to the city of Vancouver, I served as the Deputy City Manager. At that time, there was a new mayor and council, and they were really looking to make Vancouver a leader globally, and so they adopted the Greenest City action plan. So the Greenest City Action Plan became a rallying cry for us.

So we were able to demonstrate that a city can be vibrant, a city can be growing, the jobs can be increasing, the population can be increasing, and we can be reducing our overall impact on the planet. Ultimately, we have most of the solutions that we need to reduce carbon emissions in our communities and to make our communities more resilient.

We know what they are. We have the toolkit of solutions. We need to scale those up. It's not that there's one or two cities that have tried it all. Thousands of cities have done little bits and pieces. They're out there. The solutions are there. We need to find ways to disseminate them, to policymakers and to governments across the world.

We have to ensure that government workers in every city around the world have immediate access to the lessons that are being learned around the world. Vancouver was very committed to sharing successes and failures, and we're trying to take those lessons learned and share them across the globe.

Adrian Brown: One interesting thing that I pick up from that clip is, and I don’t know if this is a conflict, but a contrast at least between scaling and learning. Uh, and I think that Sadhu was talking about both there, so scaling in terms of we've got the answers, uh, we just need to roll them out everywhere. But also learning in terms of successes and failures, I suppose a recognition that answers that work in one place might not work in other places, which is slightly different to scaling.

What are your, either of your thoughts, on that?

[00:15:29] Javiera Godoy: I think there's something really interesting in that, that has to do with implementation. And sometimes we, when we're planning a project, we kind of like plan it with. The ending in mind when in reality it's from those like iterations that we're actually giving the answer to our learning questions or learning enquiries.

And in this case, when we're talking about like a scaling up and how to disseminate, what we're saying here is that basically Sadhu, is sharing that they, they got to the answer that they wanted, they now have the framework, uh, they know how to make that community in particular resilient. But then like the question is like, how can we amplify this?

And we acknowledge that amplifying it is not just one answer. It has to do with like, so many different answers. And I guess that's the point where implementation gets really tricky, but also really fun because. It shows you different pathways on expanding projects and those pathways should be planned and shaped by, again, the communities.

We are always learning from the context that we're interacting with. So we come with some sort of like framework, but then the project becomes something really different when we're, you are standing in front of different people and you're surrounded by trees instead of the sea, and you have to react to that.

And I think that's in terms of like leadership and policy makers, that's one of the, a skill that we have to bring into our skillset, how to be more adaptable and flexible. So then scaling up doesn't mean just like copying and pasting, but it has to do with finding and identifying the key things that must be brought into the conversation when implementing that sort of framework.

[00:17:20] Adrian Brown: I'm actually thinking of the fact earlier that your background is architecture as well as design and when you're talking about the importance of local context, is there a parallel in, in from architecture? Like a, a building in one place sort of works within its context and if you just took that building and put it somewhere else, it would feel very different. Is that, is that a concept that you that you think about in architecture? I'm speaking entirely from a position of ignorance here. 

[00:17:51] Javiera Godoy: That's a great question. There is a big movement in architecture, which is called placemaking, but it's basically like any kind of effort that we put forward, we do it with people. Because if we go there and just like create this amazing and beautiful building, if people don't feel part of it, if there's not like an appropriation process towards it, then how can we take care of it? How can we make it sustainable and how can we make it part of the community?

That insight came after modern architecture, where architects and urban environment practitioners thought that they could create a model, they could create a framework, and if it worked in Marseille, then it would work in Brazil, and then they created Brasilia, and it's such a beautiful big scale sculpture, but it's not created for the people that lives there. It's just beautiful. But it doesn't work in reality because it was just a process again, of like copying and pasting something that seemed like a good idea, but it didn't have any type of context. And talking about scale, like literally it didn't fit to the scale of that city in particular.

So I think that it's something that we see repeated across different disciplines and that makes it so fascinating, like, that's again, the skill that we all have to introduce in our everyday work. 

Adrian Brown: Yeah, that is fascinating. And having been to Brasilia, I certainly testify to the fact that it's a… an unusual city to wander around.

[00:19:32] Katie Rose: My name is Katie Rose. In this episode we'll explore what we are learning about a new way of government in the health and social care sectors by looking at systems around the world that have transformed care and speaking to changemakers in and around government who are trying different approaches so that the needs of those they care for come first.

We all rely on health and social care at some point in our lives. Everybody gets sick. It's all part of the human experience, but how can we make sure that the system is there to support people when they need it most? 

Adrian Brown: Let's move on to episode three. So episode three was about health and social care, and particularly the problems we face in this area internationally and how individuals in the sector are overcoming them.

Let's hear an update from Deidre Mulkerin before we dive into this one.

[00:20:26] Deidre Mulkerin: Hello, this is Diedre Mulkerin. I'm the Director General for the Department of Child Safety Seniors and Disabilities in Queensland, Australia. On the podcast, I spoke about some work that we were doing here in transferring responsibility and decision making from the authority of government, my delegated powers to our first nations elders, leaders communities.

My hope is that over the next five to 10 years, all of the work that is done on behalf of First Nations children, families, and communities, is transitioned to community-controlled organisations. Since the podcast, we've continued to do that work. Excitingly, we've now agreed a 10 year plan, uh, about how we roll this out, um, across the state that involves the transition of work from inside government to community elders and partners and traditional owners making child protection decisions for First Nations children and families.

I've got lots of very positive comments, really from around the world, from the podcast. A lot of people saying to me: keep going, you know, stay the course, it's extraordinary work. So I'm very, very proud of the work that we're doing, and we've got a long, long way ahead of us still. 

[00:21:53] Adrian Brown: It's fantastic to hear from Deidre, the response she's got from the podcast and Katie as host of, of this particular episode, what's your reflections back now, either on what Deidre was just saying or on the episode as a whole?

[00:22:05] Katie Rose: Yeah, so it was absolutely amazing to speak to the four brilliant people that I was able to on the podcast. I mean, Deidre said it really clearly there. I think part of this is the leaders that I spoke with are all trying to do change in different ways and they are trying to enable social workers to be able to prioritise relationships with children and families.

And we, we spoke to Michaela Berry in the podcast, who CPI still work with as part of the Crescendo project. And there we are working with local authorities to help them unlock some of the barriers that get in the way to children's social workers being able to prioritise relationships with children and families.

And I think what Deidre said, there's a really good point, which is she said so many people had reached out to her to encourage her to keep going and I think that's part of what we are trying to do at CPI is connect leaders and practitioners together that are trying to do this work differently, to give them the spirit to keep going because it can feel really hard.

Adrian Brown: One, one aspect of what Deidre was talking about there was that was the First Nations angle. In fact, Javiera, maybe this is a good one for you because certainly through our global development work we're, uh, thinking very carefully about whose voices get to shape what, in a conversation about policy or a conversation about services. 

Javiera, what, what's your reflection on what Deidre was saying?

[00:23:30] Javiera Godoy: In the spirit of our conversation I'm just going to say, this is just my personal view and that we are not expecting this to be a final answer, but I would say that there's something really interesting in what, um, she's proposing on transitioning to community control.

When we give more space to any type of community, I mean, if we have some sort of framework or a process in which we are actually inviting them to say something, and beyond saying something to be really engaged and participate in the conversation, that's where we're shifting that kind of sometimes like Western perspective over things because those ideas will shape something new that we actually don't know how it's going to look like.

So I think that especially when talking about health issues, it is so important to empower people to, to feel that they can be part of the process and an active practitioner in whatever we do. Going back to the question, how can we shift a perspective? I would say again, it's on creating ways in which people can actively engage with the things that we're working on and then that methodology of empowerment, um, can help us to shift that Western focus. 

And also because we have to acknowledge that these people bring lots of tools as well. So we go there and we say like, this is a great way in which you could do things, but then we're not actually going to those conversations and asking them, what do you want to do? How are you seeing these things? And then create a space for them to shape our work. Then again, we're just imposing our view in perspective. 

[00:25:12] Katie Rose: I think that's really right. Javiera. This made me think of some work that we've been doing with the victims of modern slavery with the University of Nottingham that I talked about earlier, and I think it really comes to re-imagining what we mean by co-creation.

So Deidre said it in the clip we heard just now. She's talking about co-control, not consultation at various points on the process and not even co-design. And I think there's a real difference there. And I think we need to think bigger about what we mean by the word that gets used quite a lot, which is co-creation in public services and thinking about how we move to more co-control that Deidre is talking about, which is centring the community's experience and perspectives, not just engaging them at the start of a process and then, going away, coming up with a solution and, and then asking them, does this work?

[00:26:06] Adrian Brown: Yeah, if you were not reflecting on or talking about power, probably in these conversations, then you're, then you're, you're perhaps not going deep enough.

SFX: Uh, they're fear mongers because they don't know. I mean, people might say they're the experts, but they're not though because their numbers have been lied.

Adrian Brown: Trust: where would we be without it? Trust is a fundamental sense that we've subconsciously woven into the very fabric of modern society. The relationship systems and rules we've built around ourselves are all forged upon the rudimentary feeling of trust between human beings.

Trust is essential for the effectiveness of many public policies. It's the foundation for any well-functioning government. But once trust is broken, it can be hard to rebuild. And building trust where there was none to begin with can bring with it even more complexity. 

SFX: My biggest fear right now is how quick American Patriots crumbled and hid in their homes because their government told them that they should.

[00:27:11] Adrian Brown: So moving on to episode four where we discussed equity and legitimacy in governance, and particularly as it's, uh, international Pride month this month, that a lot of the issues we discussed here are relevant and resonant as, as they always are. We had six great contributors to this episode, and we've actually got updates from both Michelle from Salt Lake City and Candace from Chicago. So perhaps we can hear both of those before we talk about the episode.

[00:27:37] Candace Moore: Hi, my name is Candace Moore and I serve as the Chief Equity Officer for the City of Chicago, leading our office of Equity and Racial Justice. It's good to be back again with the Reimagining Government Podcast. Here in Chicago, in America I would argue maybe around the world, communities often have a really fraught relationship with government.

SFX: What changed since 1973? What changed? It’s a corrupt court.

Candace Moore: Since the podcast, we have three exciting updates in all three pillars of our wor. Under Support Community Healing, we've been really proud to release our year of Healing impact report. This has been an exploration of, uh, what healing looks like in government using a framework that we built.

And what that report does is it details how we've used that lens to examine policies, community engagement, and investment. Specifically that investment may include a 6 million investment into community-based healing projects. Under Building Restorative Tools and Partnerships, we've launched our community wealth building report.

This report details the work that we've been doing to really look at economic development and build up an ecosystem of community wealth building. Additionally, we've detailed how we've taken in a 15 million dollar investment and worked with our communities to build and support the ecosystem. And last but certainly not least, we've been excited that our department's racial equity action plans have, are now public.

These are plans that our departments created after deep learning and deep consideration of the equity levers that are available to them in their core work. It's great to have an opportunity to catch up with you all, and thank you all so much for your support of this continued work.

[00:29:38] Michelle Mooney: My name is Michelle Mooney and I am the Equity Liaison in the Salt Lake City Mayor's Office. For the Racial Equity and Policing Commission, we are working to finalise the budget and curriculum for a diversity, equity and inclusion training for the Salt Lake City Police Department. This is set to launch towards the later half of the year.

We will be beginning with the history of policing and how the department works with both the black and Latinx communities. At the top of next year, the trainings will continue on with a focus on our LGBTQ+ and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. As this is the first diversity, equity, and inclusion training done for the department, we hope we can grow from this initial launch to capture other marginalised communities and broaden the scope of what this training can incorporate.

As for our Human Rights Commission, we work to pass the ordinance for CEDAW, which is the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The commission is working towards building relationships and being involved in spaces and places that prioritise gender equity. We will look towards beginning a task force to carry out a gender equity and analysis that will occur every five years, as well as gather research on how we can have better practices as a city.

The future of the Salt Lake City government is a bright one, and we look forward to many more changes we can work towards as a community.

[00:31:02] Adrian Brown: So great to hear both those updates there and, and some strong themes across both of them, I think. One of which I'd say is a recognition that as we've already been discussing, often when we're talking about different communities with whom government is, is working, we need to understand that the starting point for those discussions can often be one of really significant distrust and a history of action that is, that is actually marginalised and set back that community year after year. So when you're starting from that place, you know you need to acknowledge and find a way of recognising the difficulties of rebuilding or even starting a conversation about legitimacy and trust in under those circumstances. 

[00:31:50] Katie Rose: I think the thing that came up for me was, as you say, Adrian, the need to acknowledge a history of harm for communities.

And the lack of trust that there is between government and many communities around the world. And I think what I found particularly inspiring about what Candace Moore spoke about was by creating the first ever Chief Equity Officer and producing and publishing an impact report, it shows that they're owning that mistrust and distrust that exists in the community. And I think acknowledging that things haven't been based on trust before and there is a long way to go. I mean, at CPI, we talk often have earned legitimacy, we don't just talk about legitimacy. It's because it's something that government needs to earn and that takes time, not just intent by one political party or by one leader.

It's an effort that is going to take years, and I think it's important to recognise the depth of the history of harm that's existed before to be able to do that work meaningfully. 

Adrian Brown: Absolutely. And I, I suppose it is easy to be cynical when you hear about a report being published or a, a consultation taking place, but what I certainly pick up from both the, uh, clips we just heard is the integrity with which the process is being pursued. So it's not just about producing a report. The report is in a sense, the, the side benefit from the deep and often painful conversations that I think are taking place throughout that work. 

[00:33:23] Thea Snow: Generally speaking, our current national government structures and systems were designed at a time when many of the issues that we are facing today didn't exist.

How do we expect to tackle today's issues with systems and structures that were designed for a world that looked very different? If national government is to remain relevant and effective, it must be willing to evolve. 

[00:33:49] Adrian Brown: We're coming to the penultimate episode now, episode five, where we looked at building a modern form of national government.

So a lot of the conversations up until this point in the podcast have been about local, the local level right. And we actually have an update from the host, Thea, who's our CPI Director in Australia and New Zealand, who can tell us how her work in this area has progressed since the episode was released.

[00:34:15] Thea Snow: I'm Thea Snow, the Director of the Centre for Public Impact in Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand. A national government should be used as the helping hand of its people, rather than the iron fist of control. But how do we ensure a national government works for all, not just the few?

Since we last spoke, some of the work that I'm most excited about, that we've been doing in this part of the world is exploring the role of storytelling in government, building on work that we did in partnership with Dusseldorp Forum and Hands Up Mallee, which explored the role of storytelling in place-based community led work.

We're now exploring how people in government and philanthropy think about stories and storytelling in the context of their work. Does storytelling feel relevant in government? Why and why not? How are stories used as a way of evaluating and understanding change? What does good storytelling look like?

What makes it hard for stories to be heard? Deidre Mulkerin and a broad range of people who work within and around government are going to be exploring these questions with us.

[00:35:23] Deidre Mulkerin: Making sure that we deliver what we know works in a way that is contextual, makes sense in a particular community, a particular place. 

Thea Snow: and I'm really excited to share the report when it emerges later this year.

Adrian Brown: As you both know, storytelling is something I've been championing CPI for the last year or so, and whilst often people can find the concept a little bit ethereal or a little bit hard to pin down. I think the work that Thea's doing and others, exploring how the process of people sharing their stories and their experiences can help to shift systems.

That's, I think that's really fascinating and, and and a relevant theme from this episode. Again, a question for either of you, so I suppose, what's your reflection on, on the storytelling angle? 

[00:36:18] Katie Rose: We've been doing some work with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Ofsted and CQC, and other regulators and inspectors to try to improve public services for those people that experience multiple disadvantage. We've heard so many stories of people that experienced multiple disadvantages, have lived experience of homelessness, have been failed by public services continually.

We've heard so many stories about how their experience isn't working for them and isn't enabling them to flourish. And what is so interesting is often there is still a push to have numbers around which services are failing. And what I think we found really interesting through that project is by unearthing different voices and actually really understanding the people that are behind those numbers, we've been able to actually mobilise leaders in a far, far different way to actually drive change than if we'd produced an impact report that was based on numbers. 

And I think what is also really fascinating about this storytelling notion and, and the debate really around qualitative versus quantitative is the thing that really sticks in leader's minds are the stories of change that they've been able to enact over time. So you'll always talk to a leader about, there's one case that kind of sticks in their mind around what really made a difference to someone about how a public service was turned around and how that influenced their life.

Yet then when we get in a group setting and when we think about navigating the bureaucracy, all we pass up and down the chain are numbers, not stories. And so I think we need to try to turn the tide on the value of stories being really our impact measurement and how we actually assess the impact we're having, rather than thinking about them as a fluffy add-on that add to the numbers, and actually just portray the experience of the numbers.

[00:38:09] Javiera Godoy: I totally agree with you, Katie, and just to add something I, I'd say that it's so important that we are able to get back to that human nature. We are not born by like understanding numbers, but we do understand stories and it's something that has been done since…ages, like our ancestors have been telling stories.

So then just like ignoring something that feels so natural about our human state, like our human nature, and using just numbers doesn't feel really right. And sometimes we're so good at making everything so complex and then we're trying to address the question: yeah, but how do we work in complexity? And we are creating all these barriers as well.

So simplifying things. Making them more accessible to people can actually bring us closer to those answers that we're looking for. 

[00:38:56] Adrian Brown: Let's hear also from Misha Kaur who has an update because Misha spoke particularly about this, this notion of complexity and how at a national level, uh, you can engage with that complexity in a way that doesn't over simplify, for example, by just putting a lot of numbers on things.

But let's say what Misha has to say.

[00:39:19] Misha Kaur: Good morning all. It's Misha here again, leading work around the centre of government agenda here for the OECD in the Public Governance Directorate, also, of course, working on a whole range of governance issues, and governments across the world. 

As part of my doctorate, I do a lot of work on systems, approaches, design thinking, and how do I actually use complexity thinking and systems approaches within policy making for government?

It was such a pleasure to have been able to be part of the, the last podcast. Uh, thinking about systems stewardship, about complexity. In all of these issues, 

[00:39:50] Thea Snow: Misha Kaur is passionate about rethinking the way that governments can work.

Misha Kaur: You know, Reimagining Governments in this world of complexity, this balance between idealism and pragmatism because systems are not perfect. They don't work like a model. A level of pragmatism is required for us to actually enact change. 

Since then, I've been working a lot more around, uh, this notion of stewardship and how the very important positioning of centres of governments across the world actually play a very, very key role in stewardship.

One of the, the topics that we discuss regularly is, uh, what does that look like? Stewardship, both for public policy outcomes, but also for the cultural and integrity and values, uh, within the public administration itself. So this is really interesting and I, I hope to be able to share with you, uh, you know, the forthcoming companion that we release here from the OECD, perhaps at the end of this year.

It was a delight to listen to the entire series. I know I received many, many comments, uh, and thoughts from people through LinkedIn and other networks, uh, saying not just how our podcasts, but all the podcasts were incredibly insightful. They created a dialogue, uh, that started to, uh, actually momentum of continued dialogues in there.

[00:41:03] Adrian Brown: So I look forward to the next one. So, Misha, there talking about the concept of stewardship, which is also something we've spoken about. And continue to explore a lot at CPI. Any thoughts on. On that, uh, Javiera or Katie, before we move on to the final episode?

[00:41:17] Javiera Godoy: What Misha is saying here about like systems and acknowledging that they're not complex is really key. And that's where I think that stewardship concept comes into play. When we can prepare leadership to acknowledge that, again, we don't know everything, but we're here to guide you and to learn together. That's where we can work with this idea of like, systems are not perfect and they will never be perfect, but there's someone guiding all this uncertainty.

There is a steward that is helping us to get to the places that we want to get to. And I think that's really, really important here in terms of understanding complexity and again, experimentation is having some level of leadership, where these leaders are not actually pointing out on what to do, but they're orchestrating a system in which we can all find that final point or that pathway that we want to get into.

[00:42:13] Katie Rose: I think this raises for me as well what it means to be a leader in public services. So if we are thinking of leaders as stewards, not managers or people that are setting targets, but are, as Javiera said, kind of asking the right questions and bringing in data and stories to help us make good decisions. I think that changes what capabilities we need from leaders in public services.

We at CPI Europe are, are launching a leadership programme really around the power of conversations. We're calling it Convening Conversations in Complexity, and that's because we really believe that actually such a key role in this stewardship leadership concept is the ability to have really deep, meaningful conversations across the system with communities and with each other around what's not going well and how we might be able to guide and steward a different path. Acknowledging that we don't have all the tools in our toolbox to be able to do that, we need to, as Deidre Mulkerin n said, co-control strategies with communities, but really we need to unlock the power of conversations and listening to be able to do that.

Adrian Brown: Yeah, absolutely. I'd say the concept of stewardship is, is almost as much about what government doesn't do as, as what it does do. So it stops doing a lot of the controlling and a lot of the, uh, mandating as well as starting to have a different mindset towards its role as a convener, more of a, well, a steward for the, for the evolving of the system. 

[00:43:46] Katie Rose: I think that's right. And we, and we get the privilege of being able to talk to a lot of managers that work in public services at a local level. And when you talk to them about what they really enjoy about their jobs, it's not micromanaging, it's not setting targets for their staff.

It's guiding and seeing the potential in their staff to really create something together. And so I think again, it comes back to, we need to break some of the things in the system that's putting people in a position that they feel like managing very tightly and having an iron fist of control is going to get people to do what they need.

I think we need to try to build a system based on seeing and realising the potential of the people in it 

[00:44:33] Adrian Brown: to genuinely drive a fundamental change. In modern governance, it is essential to adopt a global perspective. As we've already learned in this series, context is an important catalyst when considering what governance is needed in a particular geography or community, how can we design for that at a global scale? And above all, can it be done?

Well, let's conclude now with the final episode, episode six, where we were talking about reimagining global development. Uh, and Javiera, this is your specialist area. That wasn't that long ago that we released this episode, but have there been any updates or what have your reflections since we aired it?

[00:45:18] Javiera Godoy: I have to say it was an absolute honour to speak to these four brilliant practitioners in the development sector. And uh, I think that one thing that we've heard, even though yes, it hasn't been long since the episode was aired, but people were really celebrating the range of voices that we brought into the conversation because we kind of like reflected a bit how these questions exist in different contexts and that was really interesting to see. 

And I think that our, our guests, they all emphasise something that is really important, which is in order to go beyond traditional methods, um, it's important to, again, like trying not to reinvent the wheel and actively integrating people into this conversation stuff, as we said before, into these challenges with storytelling, contextualised knowledge.

And something that came a lot after the episode that we've heard it's around language. When we're saying Global North, we're saying Global South, Western perspectives, it is very political. And we acknowledge that those might be not the correct terms maybe and not the most inclusive ones, but we wanted to open that question for our audience to answer that.

And we've received so many interesting comments in it, especially posing the question of do we really need one answer to this? Do we need like one terminology that is able to correct and describe, for example, the global development sector, or is it more about understanding what it means in different contexts and having multiple answers, but just the fact of understanding that language shapes, realities, and we need to get into some sort of common understanding in order to shape it, but also bringing this idea of openness to flexibility and contextualisation when talking about these things has been something that our audience really, really celebrated. After listening to this episode.

[00:47:18] Adrian Brown: Let's just, let's just remind ourselves what Giulio had to say, if we can listen to a clip, uh, from, from him. He's the former, uh, head of innovation at the UNDP.

[00:47:35] Giulio Quaggiotto: You join an innovation unit because you want to be the cool rebel, right? So you have things that go against the established system, you bring your flashy tools and you bring your type of new approaches that challenge, and in a sense, your, your whole identity is predicated on being the one who challenges the system to try to actually, uh, do things that are strange in novel things I've not heard before with a certain element of coolness to the whole thing.

If you take this more, what we would've ended up calling systemic or strategic approach to innovation, you actually need to bring the system with you, which means you need to be the most helpful person in the room. You need to bring different parts of a house together with you and partners and donors.

This is actually being able to understand the personalities, agendas, et cetera, and actually being able to work in a very different space to be really an effective ecosystem facilitator and orchestrator.

[00:48:33] Javiera Godoy: Katie, let me know if you don't want to answer this one, but I'm very curious to hear your thoughts because I'm thinking of this like large scale, right? Like development, but you have all those insights from how to make it in more like a local level, like government, public servants, how do you see that happening?

[00:48:51] Katie Rose: So this reminds me of some work that we led at CPI a number of years ago around the future of cities, and it was really common in the US and the UK to set up innovation teams, so exactly as just expressed, have these people that sit in city governments that are the innovators. 

And I think that was a really helpful step at the time to signal an intent around innovation. But it actually separated those innovators from the people delivering public services. And I think that was a, that was an insight that kind of came through that report. And so it makes me think, how can we, how can we learn from what the successes have been in innovation teams, but make it less of a rebellious cause that exists within a system where others are working, quote unquote, more normally and not innovatively?

And I'm, and there's a lot of tools and frameworks that innovation teams have developed that can be used. But I think it's also a mindset towards what your job is in government, which is to constantly innovate and think about how you can spot and react to things that come your way and, and work in a complex system.

[00:50:05] Javiera Godoy: That's a great point, Katie. I've seen that like repeatedly in these innovation labs in governments where all these teams are doing amazing job, but then when you go to any other like ministry, they have no idea what these innovation labs are doing because there's this kind of like lack of horizontal work, uh, that is really, really tricky.

So I guess that, in terms of what Giulio was saying, there's this question of like, how can we break those silos that are happening across these innovation teams that are being like very innovative but just keeping all those ideas into one place. And then again, as we've been like talking before, how can we scale this and disseminate all these ideas, uh, depending on the context. So it's funny how we are like circling back to the same questions, uh, again and again with all these different topics.

[00:50:58] Adrian Brown: That's right. And a, and a very good place to perhaps draw this conversation to a, to a close Javiera, because I think what we have seen across all of the episodes is these echoes of themes that have been picked up and explored from different perspectives and in and different ways by the different people we've spoken to and not necessarily resolved. I mean, I think that was one of the other features of, of the podcast is we didn't set out necessarily to provide, or we absolutely didn't set out to provide definitive answers to anything, but certainly the threads of possible paths forward begin to emerge when you look across the series as a whole, and by comparing and contrasting the different voices who have been working at very different levels of the system in very different parts of the world with very different communities. But seeing those, if not direct copies, but certainly echoes or themes between what people have been saying has been a particularly fascinating aspect of looking back across all of these episodes with you both.

Let me give you the opportunity to have one final reflection if you, if you have from, from from the series as a whole.

[00:52:10] Katie Rose: I think it's been absolutely amazing to hear such diversity of voices from across the world talking about the same questions and challenges that they are experiencing in and around public services.

And it makes me think that as I said at the beginning, there are so many incredible people that have the potential to really change things that we know need to be changed. And Javiera is right. We have now so many of the frameworks and tools, but I think there's a culture that's really stopping us and potentially a mindset that we need to move to as leaders that we can, we are all innovators and we can change things for people if we understand the kind of system barriers in our way and actually break the things that are in the way to prioritising relationships

Having the sorts of powerful deep conversations that are needed around what's really in the way for people and actually connect as humans really, that are trying to, to do the same thing because there are people pulling in the same direction from across the world.

[00:53:11] Javiera Godoy: I would like to highlight the importance of dialogue and sense making here. We've been talking about different terms, frameworks, tools, et cetera, but the space that we want to bring in here is also a platform in which we can make sense of everything that we're seeing and localise it in whatever place we're talking about these things.

And I think in this podcast, what we've been trying to do is by bringing all these different voices together, we're actually making sense. Of all this like really complex terminologies that we're constantly using and bringing more of that practical ground on: what does it mean for people on the ground when doing these things and actually facing all this variety of challenges.

When talking about government, it is so easy to think about ministries and like leadership. But government is actually something that is created by citizens as well. So how can we bring more of those voices in, I think is a great challenge for us. 

[00:54:16] Adrian Brown: That sounds like a, a great place to conclude this conversation. Thanks so much, Katie and Javiera for chatting with me and reflecting back on season one of Reimagining Government. We will be back soon with a new series of Reimagining Government. This time we'll be spending more time with the changemakers to gain a deeper understanding of their work, uh, and how we can inspire more examples of innovation.

If you are a public servant or a policymaker, we'd love to hear from you, uh, and the themes that you think we should be focused on. What resonated from season one? What would you like to hear in season two, do let us know. You can tweet us at @CPI_Foundation or email me and share the topics, uh, that we should cover for future episodes.

Also, please remember to leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform and let us know your thoughts on the series as a whole. Until next time, I've been Adrian Brown. Goodbye.

🎙️ Reimagining Government

This podcast explores radical new approaches to addressing global issues such as the climate crisis, equitable healthcare provision, and rebuilding trust with marginalised communities. By speaking with public servants and politicians at the heart of government, we’ll shine a light on how to reimagine government so it works for everyone.

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