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Kohtaamisten voima book reveals the opportunities for internal renewal within a work community

Productivity pressures in central government, changes in customer relationships and human resources development require a thorough reform of operational models in public administration organisations. By publishing the Kohtaamisten voima book, Sitra's Public Leadership and Management Programme wishes to support a new kind of leadership, which embraces work community feelings, will and thinking as resources for renewal. The book describes a renewal process based on the approach of ‘co-creation’ de

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Productivity pressures in central government, changes in customer relationships and human resources development require a thorough reform of operational models in public administration organisations. By publishing the Kohtaamisten voima book, Sitra’s Public Leadership and Management Programme wishes to support a new kind of leadership, which embraces work community feelings, will and thinking as resources for renewal. The book describes a renewal process based on the approach of ‘co-creation’ developed by the researcher Terhi Takanen.

The Kohtaamisten voima book recounts a tale of renewal in a real-life organisation, here at the Office for the Government as Employer. By sharing the touching experiences of people and the encouraging results, we wish to set an example and provide a perspective into public administration reform and development,” says Seija Petrow from the OGE.

The Ministry of Finance’s Department for Government Personnel Management, Office for the Government as Employer (OGE), plays a key role in reforming the human resources management within central government. About four years ago, the OGE identified an urgent need to develop thinking and operational models to meet the challenges of a changing operating environment. The renewal aimed to detach from a know-all role towards an open and enabling direction. The Kohtaamisten voima book written in collaboration by Seija Petrow, Director of Collective Agreements at the OGE and Terhi Takanen, facilitator for co-creation, provides an open and touching description of people’s experiences during a renewal process.

Renewal is created in cooperation

The book presents a new approach, co-creation, which was created in Finland with strong links to public sector reforms by the developer-researcher Terhi Takanen, Master of Education. The approach sets individuals at the centre of reforms and renewal and enables sharing leadership, dialogic approach and more conscious presence.

Changes in the structure and operational models are not enough

The story of the renewal of OGE’s operational culture questions many customary development approaches, such as a focus on structures, change management and considering people as productive resources. The organisation’s basic duty opened up in a completely new way during the OGE’s renewal process: the traditional know-all steering was replaced by joint activities based in partner thinking. Instead of coercion and contrived motivation, the aim was to give the work community an opportunity to renew itself at the level of feelings, will, thinking and activity, says the researcher Terhi Takanen, the developer of the co-creation approach.

“The process described in the book provides perspective for the bases of debate about public administration renewal: how renewal is perceived and how it could be updated. Broadly understood, the development has to do with how we, as human beings, take responsibility for reforming society and its institutions. It is also a question of freeing ourselves from non-functioning ways of thinking and operating. Alongside the development of activities and structures, we must also renew ourselves. With the publication of the book, we wish to support development of empowerment of new kind of leadership in public sector organisations,” says Jonna Stenman from Sitra’s Public Leadership and Management Programme.

From the perspective of developing leadership in public administration, the OGE process generated some encouraging results:

  • Being close to the customers and listening to them increases the work’s sense of meaningfulness
  • It is worthwhile incorporating customers in steering the activities
  • Instead of delegation, leadership encourages risk-taking
  • Leadership can also be distributed responsibly
  • The team spirit was enforced and willingness to renew was increased
  • It is possible to get rid of hierarchy between personnel groups
  • It is possible to progress from the compulsion to be right to experimentation and tolerance

Seija Petrow, one of the authors, works as a supervisor and director of collective agreements at the Office for the Government as Employer. In the book, she describes the change from the perspective of a director and supervisor. Terhi Takanen is a researcher who in the spirit of participatory action research has thrown herself in the reform work.

For more information, please contact:
Jonna Stenman, Leading Specialist, Public Leadership and Management Programme, Sitra, tel.+358 9 6189 9472
Seija Petrow, Director of Collective Agreements, , Office for the Government as Employer, tel. +358 9 160 34910
Terhi Takanen, researcher, tel. +358 50 597 3825

Kohtaamisen voima
Sitra 290
ISSN 0785-8388 (paperback)
ISBN 978-951-37-5816-5
ISBN 978-951-563-728-4 (URL:http://www.sitra.fi)
ISSN 1457-5736(URL:http://www.sitra.fi)

The book can be ordered from: Päivi Jabbi, Sitra, Library services, tel. +358 9 6189 9449, firstname.surname@sitra.fi