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Success story in the Ministry of Women's Affairs

This video file is 24.2MB in size, and is 3 minutes and 14 seconds long.

Transcript of this video

I quickly realised that this initiative was going to be both different and useful.

I’m the person responsible at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for our accountability documents and for our strategic and business planning and reporting.

My previous experience with those responsibilities at other public sector organisations hasn’t always been positive.

So when I received the invitation to participate in a series of workshops being run by the Office of the Auditor-General to improve our performance information, I didn’t exactly skip for joy.

I was new to my role, I had some clear priorities agreed with the chief executive, and this wasn’t on the list. However, I know there are some invitations it doesn’t pay to turn down, so I duly turned up, not knowing what to expect.

Well, I quickly realised that this initiative was going to be both different and useful. From the ‘Mission Impossible’ opening through to the Auditor-General’s presentation then the team-based exercises, a couple of key messages emerged that I found encouraging and relevant.

They were to simplify our performance story, align the measures we report with those we need to manage and let go of concerns about owning or controlling outcomes.

I found the strategic planning framework particularly useful in linking up our core strategy with our outputs, impacts and outcomes.

So when the time came to prepare our latest Statement of Intent, I felt in a strong position to engage with my leadership team colleagues. We agreed to be more focused and more ambitious in the outcomes we seek for women in New Zealand and the impacts we expect to have as a Ministry.

This was helped by the Government’s strong focus on results and our chief executive’s insistence that to have influence, we need to have targets to chase and solutions to offer relevant to each target.

We have something to measure our success by, and we know that if we succeed, so too will women in New Zealand. Now that’s worth coming to work for.

To help our staff feel ownership of our Statement of Intent and gain line of sight to our outcomes and impacts, I ran one of the exercises that the OAG used at the second workshop. This compared two extremes – complete success and utter failure – and helped all staff build understanding of why we have chosen the particular targets we have.

It also helped them overcome the natural caution that policy folk feel when you invite them to sign up for a measurable shift in an outcome that they do not directly control.

Achieving that shift, both with the leadership team and our staff, is tangible proof that this initiative has worked.

Of course, the acid test of our planning is whether we achieve the results we are seeking.

Now, people who work here believe passionately in our outcomes: greater economic independence for women, more women in leadership roles and greater safety for women from violence.

Those are big outcomes, and it can be challenging to gauge the difference that we make.

Now that we have put down some markers for each outcome, our task has become clearer, if not easier.

We have something to measure our success by, and we know that if we succeed, so too will women in New Zealand. Now that’s worth coming to work for.

Page created: 13 September 2012

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