Public-sector leadership

Sitra is supporting the renewal of leadership in the Finnish public sector by providing a mix of training, consultation and experimentation services for high-level civil servants. We are also supporting public-sector stakeholders in structural reforms.


Public-sector leadership in Finland needs to be renewed. The overall goal is to strengthen the future-oriented, resilient, client-driven and collaborative capabilities of the Finnish public sector. A co-operative mindset is required in public administration and in the planning of public policies. A stronger future-oriented and adaptive mindset is also needed among key civil servants in central government. Finland’s current and future public administration needs a new culture of learning and unlearning, customer-oriented thinking that takes place at the service culture level and stronger knowledge-based decision-making and strategic capacity within government.

What do we do?

Our work comprises three main activities: face-to-face, module-based courses for top civil servants in a living lab format; consultation and experimentation services to provide ongoing support for implementing and making practical use of the training; and working with various stakeholders to support necessary structural reforms in public-sector leadership and administration. We will be training about 200 high-level civil servants during 2017 and 2018 and, depending on the outcomes from this first wave, we will provide training to another 600 to 700 senior civil servants between 2019 and 2021.

There are several cross-cutting features to the activities of the focus area. Echoing strategic policy trials undertaken and encouraged by the Finnish government, the training programme inspires an experimental culture and provides solutions for reforming public administration. Solutions are developed and tested in living labs and disseminated at further training and stakeholder engagement events. The training activities are also closely linked to Sitra’s other ongoing operations. Furthermore, a particular emphasis on pedagogy is considered throughout in the design and implementation of the training programme.

Who participates?

Target participants include high-level civil servants in central government, HR directors in government ministries and agencies, public servants responsible for development in the ministries and agencies, different interest groups, political decision-makers and international developers of public administration.

Our training programme provides a phenomenon-based approach to reforming public-sector leadership and the content therein. This approach has been developed in workshops with senior civil servants in central government, researchers, developers and consultants, and in several stakeholder meetings with administrative representatives held at the beginning of 2017.

Where are we now?

The first few months of 2017 will focus on planning activities and fine-tuning the framework for the forthcoming training courses. We will organise six courses during the first wave of training, running from early autumn 2017 through to 2018. At the moment, we are modelling and testing the activities, recruiting the team and raising awareness among stakeholders and potential participants.

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