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Masterclass on Navigating Public Sector Challenges in a Complex World

Governments today face greater challenges as increased volatility and uncertainty introduce new complexities that established approaches are unable to cope with. Advances in complexity science, the cognitive sciences and new approaches to “sense-making” can generate better analysis, boost the sensitivity of programme responses, and increase public sector impact. But how do these principles and practices work? What adjustments are required to achieve optimal results using these new tools?

This 2-day programme is offered by the Civil Service College Singapore in partnership with Cognitive Edge for Singapore Public Service officers. It will provide you with a complexity-informed perspective and techniques for working amidst uncertainty. You will acquire tools that augment policy analysis, provide insight into the best use of policy instruments, and organise an effective programme response.

How you will benefit?
  • APPLY the Cynefin framework to look at issues differently;
  • EXAMINE how to use narratives in citizen engagement to identify possible high impact policy interventions; and
  • ACCESS how to construct safe-to-fail experiments as a way of rapidly prototyping policy and programme ideas.
Day 1 will cover:
  • How the public sector is affected as issues become more complex
  • Why new forms of successful policy development and programme implementation are using different approaches and what these mean for public sector professionals
  • How the Cynefin framework can help situate public sector challenges and provide enhanced knowledge in situations where traditional research methods are unable to provide timely guidance
  • How levering narratives in engagement processes can help to identify possible high-impact policy intervention
Day 2 will cover:
  • Using the Cynefin framework to structure the policy programme rollout to take maximum advantage of existing knowledge to achieve early wins, while simultaneously building new knowledge
  • How to construct safe-to-fail experiments
  • How to use social network stimulation to stimulate locally self-organised solutions
  • How to use evaluation techniques as a way of ensuring coherence between the policy intent and the execution as well as producing early feedback on impact


Who should attend

You are a Manager or above, with at least 3 years of work experience. You are most likely involved in policy development and implementation, or public engagement work.
This programme is for Singapore Public Officers only.


How to register

Click here to apply for the programme.

You are welcome to contact Kenneth Goh or Hsi Ching if you have any queries.


Trainer profiles

ThomasBioPic_251_300Thomas Townsend has over 35 years of developing and implementing strategy in complex policy environments. He is a Visiting Scholar at the Canadian Centre for Public Management and Policy. Prior to his retirement from the Canadian Public Service, Mr. Townsend was the Executive Head (Assistant Deputy Minister) of the Policy Research Initiative (now called Horizons Canada) responsible for supporting the Federal Government with forward scanning, medium term analysis and research on emerging issues.



Zhen Goh is a trainer and facilitator with Cognitive Edge. She is responsible for the company’s business development and training activities globally. Zhen is also Associate Faculty at the Singapore Institute of Management where she advises on course development and instructs in the area of Cultural Sociology. She has spoken on complexity and its applications in conferences and panel discussions, and believes in actionable and practical approaches.



For more information, please refer to the course brochure at https://tinyurl.com/CynefinPublicSector2018.


July 2, 2018 – July 3, 2018


8:00 am – 5:00 pm