Imagining the public purpose workforce of the future

A next-generation capability framework
in partnership with IPAA Victoria


Together for good: the client challenge

The social, economic and environmental world is rapidly evolving, and the public purpose workforce of the future must adapt to meet the challenge.

Profound external forces are shifting the expectations on public purpose organisations; smart cities; artificial intelligence; demographic and social transformation; urbanisation; the emergence of Asia and the developing world, natural disasters and health pandemics, declining trust in public institutions; climate change and scarcity of natural resources; global commercialisation and  participatory democracy, are a small selection of those game-changers.

Success for tomorrow’s public purpose sector means embracing the paradox of these trends as both challenge and opportunity. They will demand new ways of thinking and doing business, but will also provide us with the tools and technologies to do so.

The question for tomorrow’s public purpose workforce is: how?

In 2018, IPAA Victoria and Cube Group embarked on a project to answer that question. We wanted to know what skills and attitudes the Victorian public purpose sector would need to succeed into the future, and we approached some of the biggest thinkers in our sector to answer it.

Bringing the right thinking and people to the table

We engaged with thought leaders from Victoria’s public service departments and public entities – secretaries, deputy secretaries, CEOs and executive leaders. We also connected with a dynamic cohort of young public purpose professionals, regional and rural public purpose leaders and IPAA Victoria’s Professional Indigenous Network.

Our search for answers included a broad range of intensive one-on-one interviews, nimble focus groups, research and benchmarking, innovative digital surveys, and appreciative-enquiry workshops. As themes emerged, we brainstormed and prioritised them with IPAA Victoria’s Board and Programs Committee – always endeavouring to put the Victorian community at the centre of our thinking.

As the process unfolded, the Cube team stoked our creative mindsets by undertaking internal ‘hackathon’ sessions involving intense card-storming and content development.

The positive change we delivered

The culmination of our work was the production of the IPAA Victoria Public Purpose Capability Framework.

The framework distils the ideas we heard through our consultations and grafts them with the wonderful NESTA Competency Framework for Experimenting & Public Problem Solving (2017).  Structurally, the framework outlines the key attitudes and core skills that will characterise the public purpose workforce of the future.

It also represents a powerful language shift from generic competencies like ‘cooperation’ and ‘communication’ to modern ideas such as ‘building bridges’, ‘prototyping’, ‘systems thinking’ and ‘activating stakeholders.’

We’re incredibly proud of this product, and it‘s become a ‘go-to’ for public purpose leaders who are serious about strategic workforce planning, supporting and empowering the talent of their organisations. The framework has sparked significant transformation of IPAA Victoria’s learning and development value proposition.

The framework is available here: 

https://bit.ly/2KpzTjw

Insights for inquisitive minds

  • Outcomes and evidence literacy are meta-themes that need to be on the mind of today’s public purpose leaders
  • Institutional memory is hard to build and fast to lose – strides are needed to capture and share our key policy and project learnings
  • Workforce mobility is a new frontier that requires digital and business model disruption, and new partnerships …now!

Cube is an ethical business

Cube is proud to be Australia's 165th Certified B Corporation and to be using our business as a force for good.

Read More