“I feel more energised to approach problems I’m currently having with a more opportunity-based approach.

Make the Move participant, June 2024

Open minds, generous hearts and a keen curiosity about how to shift the way the public sector works with communities. That is what I noticed and loved the most about the 13 public servants who participated in the first ever Make the Move series held across the last three months.

Through practical skill-building, reflection and discussion, learners bonded quickly and formed a high trust group, keen to share their experiences and improve their accountabilities and professional and personal growth.

We could not have asked for a better first cohort. This group were magic and included a diverse bunch of representatives from agencies including the Ministry for the Environment-Manatū Mo Te Taiao, Sport NZ-Ihi Aotearoa, Greater Wellington Regional Council-Te Pane Matua Taiao and Te Whatu Ora-Health New Zealand and New Zealand Police-Ngā Pirihimana O Aotearoa, Te Puna Aonui, Te Puni Kōkiri, Te Tari Taiwhenua-Department of Internal Affairs, Te Kawa Mataaho-Public Services Commission.

This cross-sector representation enabled real and varied examples to be shared, and became the key in creating a dynamic environment where participants could learn from others and apply insights to their own work.

Transforming Make the Move from a report into a three-part learning series was a risky endeavour. Would people sign up? Would they be up for something a little different? Would it make a difference?

We were hearing that people working in the public sector loved the stories about what works well, and the challenges faced when trying to enable a localist approach. But while readers understood the theory, they said they still didn’t quite know how to translate the insights in the report into action.

So we got to work. Our aim was to provide people working in government agencies with the opportunity to connect with new people, learn new skills and practice how to create the conditions for communities to flourish. By integrating international evidence and theory, the collective wisdom and practical insights of peers, along with innovative ideas from external speakers working at the frontline of communities, we equipped the group with a diverse toolkit for real-world application.

We had three clear goals and the feedback from learners afterwards tells a story of success:

  • Weave connections so people working in public policy feel less alone and can develop and practice the skills to build deeper and more trusting relationships ✅

“We have a collective sense of purpose – everyone in the room is facing similar challenges but keen to make progress.”

“The collaboration with others and free sharing of experiences, learnings and thoughts was inspirational.”

“I learned and will use the listening intently techniques. I am often distracted but focusing on the speaker helped me understand and organise my thoughts more easily.”

  • Create opportunities for learning by harnessing the wisdom in the room and learning from leaders working at the intersection of government and communities ✅

“Taking time out to do some deep thinking”

“Hearing from people at the frontline.”

“People’s different work and all the thinking that has happened in this space that we can build on in our own work.”

“Accountable allyships. Who am I accountable to outside formal work?”

  • Inspire and catalyse action through sharing what works and engaging in imaginative activities together ✅

“Seeing systems change slowly over time and keeping relationships and stories as a way to keep building hope for growth.”

“I feel more energised to approach problems I’m currently having with a more “opportunity” based approach.”            
“I think we spend time in meetings, focussed time on projects and a lot of what has come through these workshops is relationships. I am going to block out “relational” time in my diary to focus on growing relationships.”

What I learned as a facilitator is that there is so much learning that can happen while having fun together and activating our imaginations. It was wonderful to watch the group collectively traverse difficult issues faced in the public sector, while adding creativity, joy, laughter and empathy for community perspectives. Even more wonderful, is participants have already started applying their new skills to overcome complex challenges, from enhancing community feedback loops to fostering inclusive policy development.

Join our next intake if you are keen to learn:

  • How to create the conditions for Te Ao Māori-led change
  • How to reposition policy workers as conduits and facilitators
  • How to creating the conditions for ethical and trusting relationships
  • How to create the conditions for innovation, learning and adaptability.

Our face-to-face workshops bring inspiration, joy, learning and connection, sign up for our Spring intake here.

Sarah Morris, author of the Make the Move report by Inspiring Communities (2023), is a Powerdigm associate and freelance social and systems change consultant. Sarah has a deeply collaborative approach and will work alongside others who are making a difference for hapū, iwi and communities across Aotearoa. Sarah Morris is of Irish, Scottish, Polish, and Ngāpuhi descent, and lives with her family in Te Awa Kairangi (Lower Hutt).

Share this