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Watch: Peter Shergold discusses his Learning from Failure report

Several federal secretaries including the head of the Australian Public Service, Martin Parkinson, reflected on failure and learning from mistakes at a public administration forum yesterday.

Watch the video, produced by Contentgroup, at the Institute for Public Administration ACT’s Vimeo site:







Learning from Failure | Professor Peter Shergold AC from IPAA ACT on Vimeo.

The need for a more modern “mature” approach to risk management and to give more responsibility back down to lower level executives — but not hanging them out to dry if things go wrong — were also on the agenda at the packed event, hosted by the IPAA ACT.

University of Western Sydney chancellor Peter Shergold presented his report Learning from Failure, an attempt to explain why big government projects sometimes fail catastrophically.

The speech was followed by a panel discussion where Shergold was joined by the secretary of the Department of Environment, Gordon de Brouwer, and Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, facilitated by Department of Industry, Innovation and Science head and IPAA ACT president Glenys Beauchamp.

Parkinson gave his own reflections on the report and various matters it raised such as risk management, the impact of freedom of information on deliberative advice to government, and the need for leaders to admit their role in stuff-ups and learn from those mistakes.

“Our ability to reflect actively and progressively on our decisions and our performance is critical to our role as public servants,” Parkinson told the room, adding that he believed the APS needs “safe spaces” to hammer out high quality advice.

This event was held in partnership with the Australian Public Service Commission.

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The Mandarin

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