How governments research and communicate about the future

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Governments around the world are increasingly recognizing that they have a responsibility for structured thought and research about the future, both to shape their own initiatives, and to assist companies and institutions in the nation to survive and thrive in times of change.

Examples of government futures groups include:
Egypt: Center for Futures Studies
France: Centre d’Analyse Stratégique
India: Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council
Indonesia: Badan Perencanaan dan Pembangunan Nasional
Mexico: 2030 Vision
Singapore: Futures Group
Sweden: Institute for Futures Studies
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Creating the future of local government

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I recently gave the opening keynote at Local Government Association of Tasmania‘s annual conference. On the occasion of their 100th anniversary, they wanted to look forward to the future as well as to their past.

Incidentally, the event was just two days after I gave the opening keynote at the Institute of Public Administration NSW’s annual conference on the Transformation of Government. My presentations at the two events were reasonably similar, but many issues differ across state and local government. One of the key issues is that in a world driven by community, local government is (or at least should be) closer to the community than any other level of government.

For the local government conference my topic was Creating the Future of Local Government. The current issue of the association’s magazine, LGAT News, contains a write-up of my keynote:

In a defining era for government globally, councils are in the front-line of changes and challenges and are best placed to take the lead in turning these challenges into opportunities. This was the message to Tasmanian councils from leading business futurist, Ross Dawson, in his keynote address to conference delegates.

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Launch of the Transformation of Government framework

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The vast majority of my work over the years has been in the business sector, however I am increasingly being pulled into government and the public sector. As I spend more time in the government space, it is becoming increasingly evident to me that the public sector can lead fundamental positive structural shifts in society and the economy, making me keen to put more of my time and attention into this arena.

To help support a number of keynotes and other engagements in the public sector I have created The Transformation of Government Framework, as below. This was first shown this morning when I gave the opening keynote at the Institute of Public Administration NSW annual conference, and I will be using an adapted version for my keynote at the Local Government Association of Tasmania’s annual conference this Thursday, which celebrates their 100th anniversary.

The Transformation of Government framework (click on image for full-size pdf)

The framework is derived from The Transformation of Business framework that I created recently, as some of the driving forces are exactly the same across business and government, while other issues are expressed differently or have different prominence across the domains.

The framework is primarily intended to support my keynotes, workshops, and strategy sessions, though hopefully it will also be useful as a stand-alone to help frame fundamental issues around change in the government space. I will expand on and discuss these key themes in greater detail when I get an opportunity.
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Keynote slides on The Transformation of Government

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Tomorrow morning I am giving the opening keynote at the annual conference of Institute of Public Affairs New South Wales, on the topic of The Transformation of Government.

Originally I was scheduled to follow the recently elected NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, but he has had to travel to Beijing, so he will present at the conference after the morning break via Telepresence.

It is actually quite significant for an outsider like myself to be invited to speak at the event, let alone on a big picture view of a rapidly changing world. The title of the conference is The Future Course of Modern Government, mirroring an excellent policy paper of the same name created by IPAA a few months ago. I blogged about the 11 recommendations in the report, which are well worth a read if you don’t have the opportunity to read the entire paper.

The conference is intended to be a landmark event, several months since the NSW government changed after 16 years of Labor incumbency, and anticipating potentially dramatic change in how the state government functions in the years ahead. The themes of the conference – Technology, Innovation, Services Reform, Collaboration – are now squarely on the government’s agenda, and the reason I was invited to give the keynote.

Below is my Prezi presentation to support my keynote. I will shortly release the underlying framework as a pdf.


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