The New Bible for NZ Government Managers

From Strategy to Action
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Reader Testimonials

The book is friendly and accessible, and it pulls you in from the get-go. The scenarios described in it are so very familiar; it almost felt like you had been observing my own working environment!

That what’s wonderful about it - as the reader I felt that someone finally understood me and the frustrations I observe/experience all the time in the public sector.
The book’s clear and succinct articulation of the public sector’s unique characteristics and challenges will actually help me and my peers to address the negative perceptions of outsiders and to better manage expectations.

The shelvable versus actionable strategy distinction strongly resonated with me. I’ve already started to apply the clarity/coherence/commitment language in conversations with my team and with other colleagues.
Alicia does such a great job of laying out a simple, profound, effective frame for implementing projects and bridging the gap between ideas and actions that I’m tempted to recommend this book to everyone … except this book isn’t for everyone. However if you lead strategic change initiatives in the public sector, this book is most definitely for you. So much so, that if you were only to read one professional book ever, this should be it. After applying what you learn in From Strategy to Action, you’ll feel better about your role, and understand how to focus on the impact and value of public service, rather than being frustrated with the (admittedly frustrating) process. And of course as the strapline says, you’ll get more done … but more than that, you’ll be doing the right work, not spinning wheels. If you don’t work in the public sector, might be worth considering it just to be able to apply this book and work with Alicia. 
This book is a straight-talking, practical wake up call for public sector workers who need to up their game from manager to leader. The pathway to get there? Less talk and more action. Alicia offers solid thinking and road-tested tips for accelerating implementation within an oft-neglected context she evidently knows and understands well. This book speaks my language — it highlights the importance of purpose, clarity, alignment and accountability. But more than that, it offers clear sight lines to making those things happen. I look forward to sharing it with my public sector clients and referring to it often in my practice.
From Strategy to Action provides a valuable insight to the struggles facing public managers to get shit done.  From current experience I can well see myself staring back at me from each page.  With the increasing need to work across public organisations and others these struggles and frustrations are only intensifying.
My last role in inner government was with a department charged with making government easier to work with. The idea was inspiring and the strategy was crystal clear but the ‘doing’ was… challenging. I really wish this book had been available then.
In her straight-shooting no-jargon way Alicia shows how good strategy is crafted and more importantly, how to implement it for impact and deliver public value. If you’re in the public sector and trying to drive strategic change this book will become your bible.

A fast-changing (yet slow-moving) environment with high public scrutiny, a low tolerance for risk and an unpredictable political layer means that public management is not a job for the faint-hearted.

Lack of clarity on purpose, vision and priorities plague all levels of the public sector, with short-termism and reactive management crowding out opportunities to develop genuine strategic capability.

Operating in this environment without pushback is no longer enough, for public managers tired of late, unfinished and failed initiatives. Nor is it enough for a jaded public, who rightfully expect value from their contribution to the social contract.

From Strategy to Action provides a framework to shift the needle and make progress on the big picture. Using the tools and advice compiled in this book, public managers who are ready to seize agency and do things differently will be pleasantly surprised at the impact they can have on their teams, organisations and communities.

About the Book

Alicia McKay talks about why she wrote From Strategy to Action: A Guide to Getting Shit Done In The Public Sector




Coming in 2020…


It’s Time To Be Brave

We live in scary political times. Faith in public institutions is declining. The intrinsic value of democracy is in question.

Risk aversion in the public service is higher than ever, with the pressures of constant and instant media attention, unpredictable politicians and social divisions playing out in real time on Twitter and on the internet every second of the day.

Inequality, climate change, economic transformation, technological disruption, the future of work and the AI economy all present complex and shifting challenges for politicians and public servants.

The political implications of this are real and scary. Populism and fear have driven unexpected election results in some of the world’s most civilized and advanced nations, in an age of Trump, Brexit, Boris and whatever the hell is going on in Australia.

News is not all bad, however. Divisive, fear-based policy making is not the only response to this turbulent time.

With innovative, collaborative responses to entrenched community issues, a renewed and committed appreciation or indigenous history and biculturalism and a demonstrable lack of tolerance for bigotry and discrimination, New Zealand is the perfect breeding ground for a new model of public leadership.

By responding to home-soil terrorism with compassion and tolerance and by legislating for breaking the GDP-dependent economic paradigm, New Zealand is once again showing leadership in the public space. It’s not the first time – throughout history, our politicians and public officials have broken the mould on issues like conflict, nuclear energy, indigenous affairs, terrorism, public finance, monetary policy and technology.

But are we going far and fast enough? And is the political rhetoric and public interaction driving sufficient innovation and bravery into the administrative core of government to deliver meaningful progress?

This book argues three key things:

  1. It isn’t (for lots of good reasons)

  2. It should be (for even better reasons)

  3. It can be (and there’s some stuff we can do now to get there).

Publishing early 2020