There have been many reviews of the ACT public service culture, leadership and its deficiencies.
Most recently its own department of Workforce Capability and Governance has performed another review.
It adds some new themes but isn't entirely different from those past.
As an internally driven review it is less a consulting revenue generation exercise and more about the eyes and experience of its workers.
So we might give this one credence.
The review is forward seeking to understand what ACTPS needs to do to position itself for the next five and 10 years.
It seeks to proactively prepare the organisation for what it needs and explicitly design the organisation's culture and leadership around this.
It asks workers to identify the ideal future culture and then considers where we are now.
What is clear is the ACTPS was surprised by how great the gap was between the ideal and the reality.
The biggest gaps and greater barriers identified are blame culture, lack of innovation, micro-management, promoting technocrats rather than leaders and an insufficient pipeline of leaders.
When you pull these together you start to get a picture of a place where it's pretty tough to do things differently let alone innovate - and those who do might get stepped on.
It's also one where there is an imperative not to make mistakes.
Mistakes lead to sanctions, gaslighting and are terminal to careers.
It's perhaps not the place where you have a go you get a go.
This is also why people with technical skills are favoured over interpersonal ones because prior task performance and credentials are more defensible than betting on potential.
Just as why a small few are called on in emergencies perhaps because they can deal with the issues as much as the culture.
The issue isn't with one leader rather across culture. Just as the leaders differ, the cultural issues converge on how to treat workers who step up and demonstrate initiative. And how the ACT public service manages risk and innovation is the key.
If one were a clinician one might conclude ACTPS suffers from a fear of failure, even a pathological one, with a pre-occupation with failure over achievements.
If organisations fixate on what not to do rather than what to do this creates learned helplessness stifling innovation.
So what does the ACTPS need to do?
Yes, it does need to expand its pipeline, increase diversity, measure and reward innovation as well as invest in fairer promotion and talent management systems.
Yet all these things take time.
The standard quick fix is a wholescale restructure. This rarely works. Nor is appropriate for a workforce that quietly soldiered on delivering many of the essential services we needed through so many recent crises.
So the last thing we need to do is beat the place up, ramping up the cycle of fear and blame.
Yes, investing in leaders at all levels is essential and some tactical changes no doubt in some positions and levels will help. But such initiatives need to be focused and not generic.
They need to target the tension between risk and innovation.
What is needed is most immediately is developing realistic growth mind-sets. Fostering innovation requires the confidence to take risks, especially in a world where the role of government has changed so radically.
When an organisation manages the fear people feel on the job, innovation - at both the organisational and the team level - employees are not just permitted but empowered. But how do you create a fearless organisation that builds its capability?
The first step is to develop the belief that the environment is safe for interpersonal risk taking, to explore and experiment.
Investing in leaders to equip, support and enable them to have honest conversations about what is needed is essential.
This enables constructive discussion and respectful inquiry.
If the status quo is not acceptable and new strategies are required. then leaders must motivate their team to generate alternate possibilities, consider the unthinkable, mandate experimentation and bring along the public where employees can feel okay about being wrong far more often than right.
This creates a realistic mindset about learning, and introduces learning as bounded vehicle for continual innovation improving service delivery and doing better.
The ACT public service isn't broken and even excels in areas. This might mean better recycling strategies, renewables, and large scale infrastructure projects.
Very few thought the light rail project would go as well and be as effective as it has been.
In such areas the Canberran public service leads the nation. Reflecting this the next key step is to develop leaders to not be afraid to celebrate what is already good and could be great.
This is called strengths-based leadership. It's not about ignoring mistakes or errors.
Yes, we need to address them. But it's about rebalancing the pendulum to also appreciate success.
It is far easier to facilitate empower and encourage innovation by enabling people and organisations to excel.
This focus on learning and strengths isn't the only what is needed rather it's the start to get leaders and employees at all levels on board.
It breaks the fear and blame cycle replacing it with something better.
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