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PARTNERSHIP FOR CHANGE

The project "Partnership for Change" represents an innovative practice where a strong partnership between business sphere and public administration is built. The objective is to overcome the gap between these "two worlds", to address long lasting stereotypes about lazy civil servants, to enhance understanding about different goals and views, to establish knowledge transfer between organisations and to build a strong partnership for addressing common challenges. The project is different, unique, innovative and it strongly supports gamification of the process and encourages creativity, fun and networking. Its main focus is to overcome long-lasting rigid functional organisation of PA and business and to emphasize horizontal functions. With mixed teams, it moves away from formal positions and encourages the participants’ wish for change. It offers a completely different way of work and builds on team recognition and personal engagement. Main objectives of the project are to enhance public trust, develop staff capacity, improve efficiency and effectiveness and improve user satisfaction.

 

 


The project was developed spontaneously from an idea in the meeting between the group of young people from companies (within AmCham Slovenia) and Minister of Public Administration. The discussion was about the concrete measures that would contribute to Slovenia's better future. As one of the most important barriers we identified the lack of understanding and cooperation between companies and PA organisations and existence of stereotypes which are slowing the progress. In general, we also targeted the areas with the biggest potential to improve: lack of creativity, openness, trust, too slow implementation of modern approaches and no fun in the process. Therefore, we launched an initiative and piloted a project to exchange employees for a week in 2015. In 2016, we upgraded the concept with workshops for specific competencies and mixed teams to create solutions for pre-selected challenges. It included 5 ministries and 30 national and international business companies (among them Coca Cola, Siemens, IBM, Microsoft, Steklarna Hrastnik, Lek, A.T. Kearney, Bisnode, SAP, KPMG). The project consists of short term exchange of employees from both sectors, creation of mixed teams to address pre-selected challenges and workshops for new competencies. It is coordinated by the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia and the Ministry of Public Administration under the sponsorship of Minister of Public Administration and Deputy Prime Minister. The project was set up as a social experiment and it still continues with this character.

 


The partnership was established mainly with the purpose of exchanging employees between companies and government organizations and for setting up mixed teams in designing solutions for 5 chosen challenges: raising motivation of employees in PA, enhancing effectiveness of cooperation, making complex electronic services user-friendly, adjusting education curriculum to the needs of 21st century, strengthening the brand I feel Slovenia. The project significantly increased understanding and mutual trust, built strong partnerships and set a model for cooperation (to be used in drafting legislation, development activities, creation of new concepts, solving specific problems or challenges on system level). It increased motivation and engagement of employees on both sides and raised big interest from the top level managers and leaders (government, business). It was covered by the media on a big scale and was presented as good practice. The indirect impact is a step towards a cultural change within the PA and in wider public (optimism instead of pessimism; challenges instead of problems; together instead of alone; public good instead of only profit).                

The partnership represents the core of the project which enabled us to succeed in creating a mixture of different employees with different positions, competencies and values. We also emphasized horizontal connections between ministries (in order to break silo organisation) and cooperation between competitive companies. »Partnership for Change« project also has huge potential for the innovation to be replicated to address similar or common problems throughout all government and public administration. Another key feature of our model is that it is growing in organic way, with “fun” and “cooperation” as key pillars. We use agile approach and continuously learn from different responses (companies, ministries, employees, observers, media, …) and put main focus on communication, soft skills, emotional intelligence and not on the rules, procedures, contracts… The final delivery of the project will be a proof-working model for societal cooperation. There is a huge potential of the project. It could be replicated in different environments (countries, organisations), with partners and size and it could cover very diverse issues (social, economic, business, environmental, …). It is based on inclusiveness and offers effective tool/mechanism for development of integrated solutions to define challenges or questions.

The project is currently in the implementation stage and it runs itself as an experiment and as a learning process towards creation of a model for efficient and inclusive collaboration between different stakeholders. It is based on voluntary engagement and personal interest, that is why there aren't any significant financial resources necessary. But since the interest for expanding the project on to a broader scope is enormous, we are facing challenges on how to proceed. Namely, there will have to be some specifically dedicated people to work on the project to manage activities and monitor that basic approach is not altered.

We feel there is tremendous potential in building partnerships which should be based on trust, mutual understanding and open communication. There is also no need to strictly follow the traditional project management approach. On the contrary, different responses proved that there are numerous possibilities for more free and open methods (an agile approach) with emphasis on gamification and experimentation. We learned that all employees truly want to be engaged, to make a change. However, they have to be visible, they need to have different opportunities to express themselves, and the leaders should have more trust in them – to set a goal and give them more freedom in search of solutions (=innovation). In the next phase we will learn more about implementation of proposed solutions.