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Reimagining government 2020

An ANZSOG and Centre for Public Impact series






75 minutes


21 May 2020 - 13 August 2020

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Our models of government need reimagining. Politics and governments remain structured in ways that reflect the values and mindset of an industrial era, when the world looked very different from what it does now. Trust in governments across the world has been in decline, as has faith in their ability to solve complex 21st-century challenges such as climate change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put new pressures on governments, but has equally shown their value in dealing with a global crisis. This crisis is an opportunity to rethink how governments serve their citizens.

Join ANZSOG and the Centre for Public Impact, a BCG Foundation, as we reimagine government in a series of seven webinars which will bring together senior practitioners, academics and leading thinkers from across the globe. They will explore a vision of government founded on three beliefs.

  • most of the challenges we face as a society are complex.
  • the quality of human relationships matters a great deal.
  • and progress is best achieved through experimentation and learning.

These thinkers will be guided by the ‘enablement paradigm’ a belief that the best role for government is not to manage or control but to create the conditions that lead to good outcomes for society.

You will have a chance to join these leading thinkers in shaping a new vision for government. Each seminar will be highly interactive and give you a chance to share your views. The seven-part webinar series will be facilitated by journalist, speechwriter and policy communications adviser, James Button.

We are excited to invite you to take part in a thought-provoking and timely conversation about what a reimagining of government might look like. Join the conversation online using #reimaginegov.

Please note that numbers are limited for these events and tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Date: 21 May 2020

Time: 5pm – 6:15pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra)


Catherine Althaus  Terry Moran Thea Snow

In this first webinar, we will be exploring the idea of “the enablement paradigm” – a new model of government, which believes the core role of government is to create the conditions in which communities can flourish.

Adrian Brown, CEO of Centre for Public Impact has described this shift as follows: “rather than trying to control, rather than trying to manage, rather than envisaging the world as a giant machine to be optimised, an enablement mindset says that our job in government is to help create the conditions from which good outcomes are more likely to emerge.”

Join Terry Moran AC, former Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Chair of Centre for Policy Development, Thea Snow, CPI Australia and New Zealand, and ANZSOG’s Professor Catherine Althaus to discuss the key ideas underpinning this new paradigm, and explore why now is such an important moment in time to be reimagining government.

This will be an interactive session, so make sure you bring along a paper and pen!

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Date: 4 June 2020

Time: 5pm – 6:15pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra)


Deborah Blackman  Adrian Brown  Luke Craven

Most of the challenges we face as a society are complex in nature. They involve many actors, interacting and influencing each other in a variety of ways. In the enablement paradigm, government interventions are designed with this in mind; moving away from linear and discrete interventions, to holistic and evolving programs of work.

Public managers must be aware of the complex environment they work in and the limits of what they can do acting on their own.

Join Adrian Brown, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Impact, Professor Deborah Blackman, Public Sector Management Strategy at the Centre for Public Service Research in the School of Business, University of New South Wales, Canberra, and Dr Luke Craven, Director of Foresight at the Australian Tax Office as they discuss what it means for government agencies to think in systems.

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Date: 18 June 2020

Time: 5pm – 6:15pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra)


Gill Callister  Professor Donna Hall  Brenton Caffin

When people feel supported by strong human relationships, change happens. For this reason, in the enablement paradigm, governments move away from designing specific programs to fix specific problems, and instead invest in programmes which build stronger relationships within a community. This approach acknowledges the critical role that human relationships play in developing social cohesion and community resilience.

Join Gill Callister, Vice President, Thought Leadership & Ethics and Integrity at ANZSOG, Professor Donna Hall, Chair of the New Local Government Network and former CEO of Wigan Council and Brenton Caffin, Executive Director, States of Change, to hear about their reflections on the powerful role that relationships play in supporting citizens and communities to flourish.

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Date: 2 July 2020

Time: 5pm – 6:15pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra)


Nadine Smith  Penny Hagen  Angie Tangaere

“This crisis is more than a time to keep the troops going; every stage offers a way to truly build a new and better reality for all, starting with those we heard the least and who gained the least.” (Nadine Smith, Medium)

Governments around the world are starting to realise that “consultation” with communities is often not enough to build trust or, more importantly, effective programs and cooperation. With this in mind, governments are starting to explore how to engage citizens and communities in more integral and imaginative ways (which, in the context of COVID, means perhaps remotely too.)

In the enablement paradigm, the role of government shifts from one of decision-maker to listener and facilitator. The role of government is to identify the people and organisations within a community who have the greatest knowledge of an issue, hand decision-making power to them, and support them to exercise their power as effectively as possible.

Join Nadine Smith, Director, Centre for Public Impact, Penny Hagen, Director Co-Design Lab Auckland, and Angie Tangaere, The Southern Initiative Intrapreneur to talk about the work they’re doing in reimagining and redefining power and in building trust, especially after trauma.

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Date: 23 July 2020

Time: 11am – 12:15pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra)


Peter Hughes  Mary Wooldridge  Sandra Parker

We have seen a humble approach to leadership playing out strongly in the context of COVID. Many leaders around the world — even those we may not expect! — are admitting that they do not have the answers, and that we are all learning together.

This approach to leadership, sometimes referred to as “servant leadership” is an essential element of the enablement paradigm.

Join Sandra Parker, Fair Work Ombudsman, Peter Hughes, State Services Commissioner New Zealand and ANZSOG Chair, and Mary Wooldridge, former Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Women’s Affairs and Community Services, to explore what it means to lead with humility, and why servant leadership can be such a powerful approach.

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Date: 30 July 2020

Time: 5pm – 6:15pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra)


Dr Toby Lowe  Sarah Hurcombe Dr Subho Banerjee

The challenges facing the government are often described as “knotty” or “wicked”. What this means is that there are no simple answers or solutions. It is precisely for this reason that public sector agencies should move away from an operating model which seeks to define technical solutions to public sector challenges; shifting instead to a model which centres on cultivating a culture of learning within agencies, and a culture which is tolerant of mistakes.

Join Dr Toby Lowe, Visiting Professor in Public Management, Centre for Public Impact, Sarah Hurcombe, Director, Human Centred Design, NSW Treasury and Dr Subho Banerjee, Research Program Director at ANZSOG, to explore what learning and failure looks like in government, and how it might be encouraged.

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Date: 13 August 2020

Time: 5pm – 6.15pm AEST (Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra)


Ken Smith  Larry Kamener  Leilani Bin Juda

The Reimagining government series has brought together hundreds of people from across the globe, including senior public servants, academics, and leading thinkers, to discuss how governments can deliver better outcomes for communities by placing enablement at the core of their approach.

In the final event of the series, join Ken Smith, Larry Kamener and Leilani Bin Juda as they reflect on lessons and highlights of the series, discuss what enablement means to them as leaders, and explore how each of us has a meaningful role in helping governments enable the communities they serve.

Watch the webinar