Building capacities for a 21st-century civil service

Today’s governments operate in an increasingly complex, non-linear, and interconnected world. COVID-19 could be only the harbinger of many foreseeable disruptions: a practice round to a long century of transformations. Our ways of governing will have to change accordingly.

Administrations are about people.

As the world turns to governments for solutions to some of the most pressing problems, it’s easy to think of government as an amorphous, soulless mass. At its best, it is an efficient machine; at its worst, a tool for tyrants. Too many are ready to dismiss the agency of each government’s people: civil servants. But civil servants are neither a machine nor a tool. They are, above all, human beings driven by multiple interests, hopes, fears, and aspirations. What we need to do is to reappraise it and support them.

We need to reimagine how to better equip those who stand at the government’s core: public servants. As public servants face societal transformations, citizens and administrations alike require them to strike a balance between maintaining stability and pushing change. To succeed, they need a new set of skills, capabilities, and modus operandi that will enable them to perform that role well.

Civil servants cannot be bureaucrats anymore.

Many governments have already recognized that implementing continuous and intentional investments in the reskilling, upskilling, and better resourcing of civil service is paramount to addressing the main challenges of our times in meaningful ways. Moreover, the world is full of early signs of change — an ever-growing number of governments and civil servants realizing the need for change and increasingly showing determination in exploring new directions for their future. Now, the time has come to speed up their efforts toward change.

Civil servants are agents of governance.

We believe that at least four elements will need to become stronger in the focus of the civil service in the future. We have written these elements in the format of characteristics, which we commit to building through our capacity-building efforts:


That’s why we offer capacity-building training.

  • We create tailor-made training sessions, which we have co-built with global and local partners.

  • We run courses on foresight, experimentation, co-creation, governance innovation, agile leadership, digital governance, and more.

  • We consistently build our training materials on real-life case studies from our global network of partners and collaborators.

  • We use training sessions as opportunities to solve real-life problems that public servants are facing in their context.

  • We want our impact to last, and we design our courses and materials accordingly.

  • We empower our contributors to lead with conviction in an era of uncertainty.

Ready to transform government? Get in touch with us:

Mikael Sokero
Senior Expert


See examples of our work: