In brief

In brief

  • As COVID-19 lockdowns end, public service organizations are at the center of an uncertain period of community and economic life.
  • By thinking through the resilience, versatility and sustainability of solutions developed during the crisis, agencies can springboard to the future.
  • To set priorities moving forward and outmanoeuvre uncertainty, agencies should account for five shifts in attitudes and ways of interacting.
  • Building public service for a new era will take bold collaboration, tremendous flexibility and relentless innovation across the sector.

The world looks very different

Many public service organizations took on the COVID-19 pandemic with effective leadership and extraordinary sacrifices from frontline workers. After months of managing the crisis while doing the everyday work of government, nations are opening up again. They must balance protecting citizens’ health with kickstarting operations and economies.

No one knows how long this period of co-existence with the virus will last. But the world after lockdown is vastly different. People and businesses are depending on you to guide them through the next several months, possibly years, of uncertainty. There is much to think through, and the social, political and economic fallout is unknown.

This era of uncertainty will force you to build more flexibility and adaptability into how you deliver outcomes to citizens, businesses and your workforce.

The now: Take stock. Take action.

Now it’s time to capitalize on—and evolve—the innovative service delivery models launched at an astounding pace during this crisis. Explore three dimensions to determine which solutions to end, which to evolve and which to expand as standard practice.

1. Does the solution improve mission delivery?

You became more resilient to confront the virus. Know which solutions are stopgap and which can improve mission delivery going forward.

2. Does the solution deliver in a new way?

You worked with versatility to innovate at speed and scale. By continuing the best of these approaches, you can deliver the mission in new ways.

3. Should the solution be standard practice?

You want to build on some solutions to springboard to the future. This means putting enablers around them to sustain them for everyday use.

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The next: Emerge stronger

As you plan for a post-lockdown future, the concepts of resilience, versatility and sustainability should inform your strategic planning. In addition, your priorities and decisions should account for five shifts in attitudes and ways of interacting.

Citizens: All eyes on public service

The pandemic made people more aware of the role of government in their lives. The hyper focus on public service offers a window of opportunity to reestablish the public service brand.

  • Seek and use expert advice.
  • Plan for all possibilities.
  • Build the muscle to flex.

Service: The human face of virtual

Perfecting the virtual service delivery model means bringing a spirit of human connectedness when people cannot be together. Also key is providing the right mix of in-person and virtual service options.

  • Know your customers.
  • Emphasise equity of access.
  • Design from the outside in.

Collaboration: Building without boundaries

Strengthening the relationships forged during the crisis can create a greater and more integrated role for non-government entities, businesses, nonprofits—and citizens.

  • Build a powerful team.
  • Create a culture of “we.”
  • Unite around shared outcomes.

Workforce: Creating superpowers

As agencies prepare for work after COVID-19, building a resilient workforce is a priority. This means balancing productivity and outcomes with safety.

  • Reconfigure work structures.
  • Rethink essential skills.
  • Create a safety experience at work.

Trust: The new social contract

There is a need for a new social contract based on trust—a willingness for people to change their behaviors for the benefit of public health and the greater good. This is important for governing through the next crisis.

  • Keep eyes and ears open.
  • Be radically transparent.
  • Act as expert data stewards.

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Be ambitious. Be bold. Be flexible.

The pandemic accelerated many transformations that were ongoing in government. Of all its horrible impacts, this is a rare positive. You can build on this momentum. Meeting the needs of citizens, businesses and public servants means harnessing the power of transformative technologies and becoming a truly data-driven organization that analyzes, shares and acts on data insights to make a lasting difference in people’s lives.

Ryan Oakes

Global Health and Public Services Industry Practice Chair

Dave Telka

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Public Service, Canada


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