Against the Odds. How do you change the culture of a government department?

location_city Bengaluru schedule Mar 20th 04:15 - 05:00 PM place Grand Ball Room 2 people 51 Interested

A government department is one of the least changeable organisations and yet I have been working with Statistics New Zealand for the past couple of years to do exactly that. How do you even begin to change years of a government culture into an agile workplace where team members themselves are part of initiating that change.

Peter Drucker once stated "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" so how do you put any strategy in place to change a culture?

Come along for a bit of humour and experience to see what was done, and is still being done to change the underlying culture. Hear about how a major earthquake was one of the catalysts for change.

In my experiences, I have taken international oranisations 100 times larger than this department and been able to "start working this way on Thursday", but this was very different and I had to change my entire approach.


Outline/Structure of the Case Study

  • Quick Humorous overview of government departments from 1970's
  • How Statistics New Zealand differs from that, but history always feeds into the culture
  • A change in 2016 when disaster struck Wellington and Statistics New Zealand
  • The brave and forward look at becoming a true Digital organisation, and what that means
  • Coming on board in May, 2017. the situation and expectations
  • The awful realisation that this was not going to be done by lunchtime
  • My initial attempts to guide an agile mindset and why that didn't work
  • Resistance in the form of confirmation bias, change reluctance, and even change resistance - How do you open a closed mind?
  • Training - and the expectations of change that didn't happen immediately, but what it did do
  • A readjustment of strategy
  • Fail-Fast, Learn-Fast
  • Change is happening but now It's all their idea
  • Setting up for the next step to DevOps

Learning Outcome

  • Dealing with Confirmation Bias
  • Changing the closed mind
  • Even a government department can change the underlying culture
  • What fail-fast actually means
  • How can coaches survive in this environment where change is difficult

Target Audience

Agile Coaches; Organisations looking to change; transformation in difficult environments

Prerequisites for Attendees

No prerequisits, just sit back and join me on this journey.

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Tathagat Varma
    By Tathagat Varma  ~  1 year ago
    reply Reply

    Steve, I love this idea...partly also because I have worked in government before, and can totally relate to the challenges in changing the culture inside a govt dept. I also like the fact that you are not talking in general sense but sharing a case study so that the audience can relate to it better. I am sure you have these point covered somewhere in your talk, but as I didn't see them, I am sharing it here:

    • the success metrics - what was the end-point for the transformation?
    • how did people resist the change, how did you address that?
    • and finally, how did you "refreeze" the changes lest the old habits mushroom back again once all the dust has settled down?

    If you have a strawman of your deck, please do share so that we can understand it better.


    • Steve Peacocke
      By Steve Peacocke  ~  11 months ago
      reply Reply

      Thank you Tathagat. Every government department is different and this is one of the better ones to work with. Very forward  thinking and active. This talk will be about the journey of learnings that I have been on as a coach in working with them. The strawman is the outline I have given but happy to answer any further questions on this.