The Next Generation of Civil Service
“Civil service is no longer the protagonist,” said Professor Francisco Gaetani of the Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration in a recent interview with us. The remark was startling, confrontational, and, as it turned out, supported by our research. The implications are profound and urgent.
In the 21st century, the civil service has become more complex and uncertain than ever before. Instead of leading the way forward, civil service institutions have become inflexible, self-doubting bodies fighting for relevance, impact, integrity, and attention. And yet citizens need institutions of collective action now more than ever. The status quo is not working for anybody. It’s time to reframe civil service as a dynamic ecosystem that adapts to changing circumstances and encourages experimentation, emergence, and innovation. Civil servants of the future could become social inventors, counselors, investigators, and provocateurs. In short, they can become protagonists again.
With this forecast and toolkit, we aren’t predicting a single future. We are looking carefully at various drivers and dynamics of change to provide coherent arguments for plausible futures of the civil service, along with time-tested frameworks and tools for preparing for alternative futures.
We believe that systematic foresight will increase our collective chances for better decision-making, leading to better futures.This report provides a baseline of understanding of the future forces and dynamics of change affecting civil service. We designed this course for those who have a stake in the future of civil service, whether they are members of government, civil servants, or citizens working to better the lives of others.
About this Project
Institute for the Future (IFTF) collaborated with the alliance for Impact Leaders in the Public and the Third Sector to create this toolkit to help prepare leaders for the future of civil service in Brazil. We have used strategic foresight methods and our decades of research experience to uncover critical forces poised to shape the future. Through workshops and interviews, we uncovered insights and novel connections that build on the unique culture and strengths of the Brazilian public sector. These workshops and interviews included leading global experts in the public sector, philanthropy, academia, technology, and private business. The project also involved two workshop training sessions for 70 Brazilian actors involved with the public sector on How to Think Like a Futurist. This toolkit is intended to help government, educators, and sponsors make future-focused decisions today and prepare for an uncertain future.
None of the forecasts or content in this toolkit should be considered the opinion of Brava Foundation, Lemann Foundation, Institute Humanize and República.org, or an endorsement of the possible futures contained within. This work is meant to synthesize IFTF’s research and the views of external experts into a provocative and useful format for readers.
About the alliance for Impact Leaders in the Public and the Third Sector
The alliance for Impact Leaders in the Public and the Third Sector is formed by four Brazilian third sector organizations: Brava Foundation, Lemann Foundation, Institute Humanize, and República.org. They seek to radically transform Brazil, contributing to overcoming its greatest challenges by strengthening the public sector and government leadership, through the construction of an innovative model of co-creation and shared investment. The alliance acts by supporting governments in their people management efforts, by producing and systematizing knowledge on the subject, by creating evidence that certain people management practices are possible, seeking new solutions and giving recognition to practical cases, and also by creating an ecosystem of organizations from civil society and the private sector that consider leadership capacity building in the public sector and in the third sector as a priority.
Jake Dunagan, Jacques Barcia, Sabrina Howard, Ilana Lipsett
Peer Review: Lane Becker, Dylan Hendricks
Editorial: Mark Frauenfelder, Andrea James
Executive Producer: Jean Hagan
Production: Robin Bogott, Karin Lubeck, Robin Weiss
Special thanks for contributions to this report: Ciro Avelino, Bruna Barcellos Mattos, Lane Becker, Marizaura Camões, Cheryl Chung, Stephanie Cox, Patricia da Cunha Tavares, Ricardo Fernandez, Francisco Gaetani, Margarita Gomez, Gabriela Lotta, Aaron Maniam, Luana Moraes Amorim, Alex Polvora, Mustafa Turan, Ari Zahav