Create your future from your future, not your past.
Governments are responsible for planning and implementing policy. One of the most significant challenges facing the government of Israel is investing resources and efforts in planning for the future, including social and economic planning for the mid and long term.
The government is comprised of a large number of complex units, as it should be. The challenge is to bring all these parts to work in harmony, with a common ethos and a common identity. This cohesiveness is important in order to enable the government to develop integrative long-term policy and plans, and make cross – cutting changes.
How is the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance assisting in addressing these challenges? We are working with senior leaders to achieve wide and sustainable social impact in Israel, and have expanded our work from learning programs, to forming networks and cross-sector collaborations. Our partners (in the government, municipalities and third sector) see and appreciate this change, and we are now involved in a number of new initiatives which address some of the challenges that the government is facing:
1. Holistic learning programs: Senior government officials must invest time and energy in order to continuously plan for the future. Each government ministry has a work plan, and some have long-term strategic plans. However, in order to tackle complex social issues on a national level, there is a need for inter-ministerial strategic planning processes. The new Strategic Seminar for National Planning is aimed at promoting collaborative long-term planning between the different ministries.
This new initiative of the Institute involves three partners: the National Economic Council, the Civil Service Commission, and the Policy Planning Department in the Prime Minister’ Office. The goal is to establish a senior forum of approximately 20 civil servants from various ministries, who are in charge of the strategic planning of their ministries. The Forum will bring these officials together to create a common language, develop a network of senior planners, and work together on the strategic planning of critical issues on a national level.
The Forum’s first seminar is planned for the fall. As part of the process, the group will discuss an issue which was chosen by the National Economic Council: how each government ministry is planning to face the challenges associated with an aging population. We are using the knowledge and expertise of JDC-Eshel, The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel. In the future, other topics will be discussed.
The Institute’s role is to assist in the designing of this process, help define needs, convene and facilitate the forum.
2. Support for senior leaders during change processes: Another initiative which we have been invited to accompany is the government-appointed “Governance Committee”. One of the recommendations of the Trajtenberg committee was that ministries need to streamline their operations in order to increase their effectiveness. The goal of the Governance Committee is to develop tools to combat structural inefficiencies and unnecessary bureaucracy.
The committee is headed by the Director-General of the Prime-Minister’s office, includes representatives of six ministries (including Finance, Justice, and Welfare), the Civil Service Commission, and public representatives. The Institute is accompanying the work of the committee and is helping in the design of the planning process.
3. Development of networks: In a recent national conference which we arranged for Regional Directors of Government Ministries, a network which we have developed over the past year, I heard from Directors that they have adopted a new way of thinking – seeing their colleagues’ challenges as their own. Using this approach, the Regional Directors from different ministries who work together in the same geographic region are able to develop creative solutions for complex issues. They implemented one of the principles of a holistic government – that all the civil servants should see themselves as part of a larger whole.
The government faces significant challenges in becoming a well-coordinated body, with a common ethos and collaborative long term goals. The Institute’s contribution, through initiatives such as those described above, is in bringing senior leaders together to learn, increase collaboration, and plan for the future.