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How can capability building bring about long-lasting change for public service organisations?

Training can play a pivotal role in increasing the productivity and versatility of a workforce.

However, for the insights gained from a course to actually drive change in an organisation, it’s important that the skills and knowledge learnt withstand the test of time. Over the last decade, we’ve thought a lot about what it takes for a training program to have a long-lasting impact on an organisation’s capabilities.

How can capability building bring about long-lasting change for public service organisations?

"The training allowed me to understand how to see a problem and structure my thinking to tackle it in an efficient manner. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot. I would like to thank Roshan in particular because he allowed everyone to feel comfortable and created an open space for people to get involved."

Learning skills through application

The most important step in learning any new skill is to practice it. No more passive learning through lectures! Participants need hands-on experience applying the skills they’re learning to real problems.

Great courses include a case study or practice problem that is relevant to the participants’ area of work. Learners apply new skills in a controlled environment and receive feedback on their attempts from facilitators.


Using facilitators who are themselves practitioners

It’s not uncommon for learners to face challenges when applying a new skill. Who better to guide them than someone whose faced the same problems already?

Experienced facilitators can give personal anecdotes about the use of the skill in their own work. Learning from a facilitator who can attest to the practical value of the course content can fuel motivation in participants. This is particularly valuable if the facilitator has worked in a similar field or on a similar set of problems as the learners.


Tailoring the capability building program to your organisational context

One size doesn’t fit all. Ensuring that any program you send employees on is designed and delivered in accordance with your organisation’s strategy can have several key benefits.

  • The skills learnt by participants will be aligned with the biggest challenges in your organisation.
  • Participants will have a coherent narrative as to why the training is important.
  • Managers and the executive team will prioritise supporting participants to attend the training. They’ll also be more interested in hearing about their learnings from it.


Encouraging continuous learning

Learning shouldn’t stop after an initial short course. The best way to guarantee that training has a long-term impact is by reinforcing it over time. Follow-up sessions like mentoring from experienced practitioners and knowledge sharing between former participants can be the key to a successful program. This reinforcement keeps skills sharp and ready for action. It also supports learners in overcoming any challenges they’ve encountered in applying their new knowledge.


Embedding capability throughout your organization

To truly embed change, the learnings need to be shared! Participants should be encouraged to pass on their new skills through knowledge sharing and role-modelling to others in the organisation. To promote this long-term change in culture and behaviour, it’s important that programs have buy-in at different levels of the organisation and across different departments.  

We're all about creating a common language and toolkit for your organisation. Communication between different teams will be more fluent if everyone uses the same terminology. Equally, outputs and analyses from tools can be shared without needing to be explained. One example of this that we use at The PSC is a problem definition sheet, a one-page sheet that we fill out at the beginning of every project to precisely define and understand the problem we’re trying to address.


The PSC and capability building

Over the last decade, we’ve delivered training to over 4000 participants in the public sector and beyond. Check out our capability building courses page to discover how we can help unlock lasting change in your organisation.

The PSC exists to make public services brilliant. We’re known for tackling the most complex challenges, from improving financial sustainability for multi-sector partnerships to making digital investment work on the ground. To solve problems and unlock lasting results, we bring together experts from across our specialisms – creating a ‘blend of the best’ for every project. Speak to our team to find out more.



Sophia Martin

Harris Lorie

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