It has been three years since I left the NZ Police Museum and in that time I shifted to the West Coast and Nelson, worked for Local Government as the lead writer and communicator for a Long Term Plan and moved to my current role in Internal Affairs as a Community Advisor.
Internal Affairs serves and connects people, communities and government to build a safe, prosperous and respected nation and my role as a community advisor has allowed me to use all my skills and knowledge across the community to help make a difference.
I enjoyed hearing Dr Ganesh Nana at the Museums Aotearoa Conference this year talk about the importance of language. In my working travels I have collected the languages of museums, Police, Public Service, Local Government, community development, accountability, communications, funding, auditing, community engagement, social services and policy. Often people talk past each other speaking their own language.
Agreement about what you mean is vitally important to expressing the value of your organisations and what you are contributing and producing for the community.During my time in the museum world some of you know how I struggled with the desire to describe and quantify the intangible benefits of the museum. Learning and using Police language produced satisfying results and confirmed to me the vital importance of language and alignment with your stakeholders. All of a sudden they could see the relevance of the institution and how it fitted with them. Their purpose was our purpose.
The Government programme Better Public Services is the response to producing better outcomes for New Zealanders. It is important to Government that we address complex long-term issues to deliver better results for New Zealanders. One Agency or person cannot achieve this alone. A good example of this approach is the NZ road toll. The outcome or result we want is that New Zealanders are safe on the road. The indicator is the lower road toll.
How can organisations express their contribution to wider social outcomes? It’s pretty easy – just use Results Based Accountability. RBA™ was invented by Mark Friedman. He saw all the good work in the community and was concerned nobody knew if any of that good work actually made a difference. “Trying Hard is Not Good Enough” is the name of his first book on the subject and well worth reading.
His model was picked up by Ministry of Social Development and now RBA reporting is a requirement for all MSD Contracts. In the Nelson region we are supporting MSD by becoming RBA trainers.
RBA focuses on three questions:
How much did we do?
How well did we do it?
Is anyone better off?
RBA does this by looking at two things, the performance of your organisation and its services and secondly, the contribution the organisation makes to a wider outcome that benefits a whole population.
Recently I have been working with Nelson Provincial Museum and Marlborough Museum and I’m looking forward to reporting back later in the year about how RBA and broader work on value in the cultural sector are making an impact here. There is no greater thing an organisation can do then ask itself “Why am I here?” RBA can help focus you on what’s important to your organisation and to the community. It can help you articulate your value powerfully and with authenticity.
Community Advisor | Community Operations
The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua