The China Capable Public Sector (CCPS) programme is a whole-of-government initiative to develop a China-savvy public sector with awareness, knowledge, experience, and leadership to engage effectively with China, both internationally and domestically. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), who lead the CCPS programme, were looking for assistance in the design and development of a China Capable Masterclass and Foundation e-learning modules. During our discussions and design development, two things became clear. A masterclass forum was the ideal solution for its specialist target audience, as it provided accelerated and high-impact development through experts working alongside delegates to share knowledge and experiences. Traditional e-learning modules would not be the best delivery method for building foundation knowledge, due to the complexity of the information and the audience needs. Some information was factual and historic, while other knowledge needs were current and fast-changing. The broad and diverse public sector needed to access this information and knowledge for different reasons, in a different order, and at different times, so they required a solution that allowed easy access to knowledge along fluid learning pathways.
Microsite knowledge portal Wavelength recommended developing a microsite (or knowledge portal) so that the content could be curated into one connected home and the proactive knowledge worker could visit (and revisit) areas of interest on demand and easily find related knowledge through metalinks and tags. This way content could be accessed quickly from various routes, and through search functionality rather than confined to e-learning modules where information would be locked in and only be accessed in a linear click-through fashion. The microsite could be hosted on an independent, standalone platform, so it would be accessed directly through the internet. This avoided implementation constraints and made it highly accessible for people to dip in and out of the Knowledge Portal from their mobile device, tablet, or desktop. Where permitted, the Knowledge Portal could also be accessed via an agency intranet and assets hosted on internal learning management systems. By curating content for its target audience, the China Capable Knowledge Portal supports the way that people work and provides them with a platform for attracting, developing, and sustaining a community of interest who can keep up-to-date with upcoming forums and current events, connect with an expert community, or learn and share knowledge and resources that are relevant to them. The portal holds a wealth of fact files, knowledge bites, and resources that build a historical and cultural understanding of China (its people and its history), key aspects of the New Zealand-China relationship, and business protocols for doing business and forming government-to-government relationships, and much more. Live forums are recorded and available for viewing on the Knowledge Portal. Masterclass Wavelength worked with a pool of China experts to develop the China Capable Masterclass. This high-impact five-day development programme for public sector professionals accelerates the transfer of knowledge as delegates learn first-hand from an exemplary pool of public sector officials, academics and business leaders. These people impart their deep knowledge and experience of the New Zealand-China relationship, recount real events, and work alongside the delegates as they develop cross-sector solutions to complex problems. The Masterclass leader guide supports the facilitators and panel speakers in leading discussion and debate to provoke critical thinking, and delegates are encouraged to provide a cross-agency perspective through the exploration of the cultural, economic, political, and security aspects of New Zealand’s engagement with China. The scenarios build in complexity as the programme unfolds through a series of daily themes: – Who and what is Chinese and what is China? – Trade, service, and investment – Cross-agency crises and challenges – Changing China – Navigating the future with a China-savvy mindset.
Five China Capable Masterclasses have been held to date with almost 100 public sector professionals attending in total. Over 50 China experts have transferred knowledge including past and present ambassadors, government officials, globally renowned sinofiles, academics, and business leaders. It has become recognised as an essential all-of-government programme for developing public sector capability. The China Capable Knowledge Portal has attracted good traffic since its launch in June 2017. It provides a central repository for holding and sharing knowledge and connecting with experts. Its members, the China Capable community of interest, are encouraged to actively contribute to that process. The Knowledge Portal is a tangible learning asset that will continue to provide a good return on investment for the public sector for many years to come.