The mahi begins: the Operating Model is underway


The mahi begins: the Operating Model is underway

December 16, 2020 | 11 min read

Over the past few weeks, Te Pūkenga and EY have worked hard to put extensive plans in place to prepare the co-design process. The process, which is centred in design-led thinking, will ensure the very people the outcomes will impact play a core role in thinking, testing and deciding.

Since early November, when EY and EY (Tahi) were selected to partner with Te Pūkenga to help facilitate the development of our operating model, the team have worked hard to scope how this significant transformation project needs to be put together, the timelines that sit around the mahi, and the opportunities that need to be built into the process to ensure authentic co-design, engagement and consultation.

The ultimate outcomes of the co-design project are to deliver a plan, in the form of a business case, that will outline how Te Pūkenga will transform teaching and learning and create a cohesive sustainable vocational education system that helps improve wellbeing for all New Zealanders and supports a growing economy that works for everyone.   

The core project team have done considerable scoping work over the past few weeks, so they are clear on what needs to happen, how it needs to happen, and most critically, when it needs to happen. 

“This is a very large and complex project. We needed to take a bit of time to fully scope the mahi that needs to be done between now and when we submit our business case for transformation to the Minister next year. We’ve established a great core team, united by our desire to approach this mahi in a way that recognises its mana, as well as reflecting its whakapapa,” says Merran Davis, Te Pūkenga deputy chief executive of transformation and transition and project sponsor for the operating model mahi.  

“The operating model is not going to be created for learners, it needs to be created with learners as a critical and vital part of the whole process. With such a complex challenge, reimagining the teaching and learning of the vocational education and training system, authentic partnership and collaboration will be vital. This challenge gives us the impetus to work together to actively generate and test novel and innovative ideas so we can produce the sustainable change required to what have become entrenched systems and services.

“We are creating a framework to enable focused co-design that will be an idea generation incubator, supported by a really robust idea testing and adjusting process. We also recognise we need to spend considerable time working with our partners and engaging with our stakeholders to validate our ideas with further testing, and then we need to confirm the final ideas with a broad and deep national consultation process. Only then will we feel confident that the final operating model we present to the Minister has been produced through a truly participative collective journey,” says Merran.  

How co-design works  

Co-design is part of a broader design-led thinking philosophy. The key difference is that the co-design process moves beyond collaboration to power-sharing.  In this case, power-sharing means that decisions on design will be made between Te Pūkenga and its Te Tiriti partners.   

A small learner-centred co-design group is currently being formed and will start their mahi in early 2021. The co-design group will be about 20 people, made up of a range of different learners selected from their contribution to the Ākonga at the Centre work, people who were integrally involved in the Mobilising the New World project, and a few independent thinkers, invited to provide a different lens to the team. The co-design team will have strong Māori participation. The team will be fully supported, using research and insight, to generate a range of ideas that will progress the development of an initial conceptual design. Their work will be in-person and virtually.  

Sitting around the co-design team, to support their ideation process, will be a number of reference groups. The reference groups will be the testers and reflectors for the co-design team. They will help by providing thoughts, ideas and feedback. There will be a constant flow of ideas and feedback between these two groupings. Reference groups are currently being identified and formed. Their work will start in about February 2021, and much of it will be done virtually on a dedicated specialist engagement platform.  

The co-design team and the reference groups will do most of their work from early 2021 through until about May 2021.  

There are various workstreams already underway that will supply research and insight into the co-design team, who will use the information to help with their ideation process. This includes the Ākonga at the Centre findings, Te Pae Tawhiti activity, insight that is being collated around the employer experience, and the ITO transition.

The co-design and reference groups will also have a significant array of the research, feedback and insight that has been collated along the reform of vocational education journey to refer to as well, including the fulsome feedback provided by partners and stakeholders through the Mobilising the New World project.  

The timeline for this mahi  

The operating model project is made up of three distinct components that all fit together:  

The operating model

  • A co-design process, engagement and consultation will help determine what Te Pūkenga does, who it’s done for, how it gets done and where it will get done  

The Information Systems Strategic Plan (ISSP)

  • Will create a strategic information system plan to support the operating model

The business case

  • Will be sent to the Minister for approval, will set out the funding required to support the operating model and outline how the model could be implemented.  

Preparation and planning for this mahi has already started, but much of the detailed work will begin in early 2021 and run in parallel through until the end of next year.  

The ISSP work is being progressed by the Te Pūkenga and EY team, in collaboration with the network’s CIO community, and is expected to be finalised by mid-2021.  

The business case work will progress once co-design is underway, with the first milestone being the development of an initial draft by September, and a final business case completed and ready to submit to the Minister before the end of 2021.

Timeline for operating model

View the timeline in pdf

Looking specifically at the operating model work, this mahi can be broken down into three distinct phases:

Co-design. The co-design team and the reference groups will first be working on establishing, refining and framing the ‘problem’ they need to collaborate to solve, and then they will generate ideas, test and refine their thinking and make some decisions to create a ‘solution’ for their problem. Their solution will form the basis of an initial service design. This work will form the basis of our initial concept design and it will be complete before June  

Engagement. A final engagement approach is still being developed, and it will be underpinned by principles such as:  

  • ensuring everyone can participate and have their say  
  • high levels of traditional face to face engagement in as many places around the motu as possible, supported by online engagement,  
  • acknowledging the engagement phase is not to finalise but rather further test and adjust the co-design thinking held in the initial concept design  
  • engagement will be done in a transparent and authentic manner that respects the needs of all partners and stakeholders.  

This phase is expected to occur during June.  

Consultation. The information and feedback provided during the engagement phase will be used to create a draft operating model concept. A national consultation process on the draft operating model concept will then take place. This is likely to be primarily online, but final plans have not yet been confirmed. We expect formal consultation to take place around September and October 2021.  

Key dates
  • December 2020: Initial employer experience research workshop takes place, with more planned for early 2021.
  • Before the end of 2020: The co-design team is contacted and provided information about how they can take part in the co-design process.  
  • By early 2021: Most reference groups will be contacted and provided information about how they can take part in the co-design process.
  • February 2021: The co-design team meets face-to-face for their first wānanga. The reference groups are established and engaged across an online platform.  
  • End of May/early June 2021: The co-design team and reference groups have completed their mahi, having established what the problem is, having collaborated to provide a solution, and they have developed an initial concept design.  
  • June/July 2021: Extensive national engagement takes place on the initial concept design.
  • July/August 2021: Feedback from engagement is used to develop a draft operating model concept.
  • From September 2021: National consultation on the draft operating model.
  • Before the end of 2021: Final operating model is developed and submitted to the Minister in the form of a business case that provides information about funding to support the operating model, as well as what implementation of the model might look like.  

Te Pūkenga will also stay closely connected to Te Tiriti partners all the way through this process, to ensure an ongoing partnership is fostered and maintained.  

“I’m really excited that we’ve kicked this mahi off. What we are all embarking on is massive, and it will change our tertiary education landscape. It is our primary focus in 2021. Our future will look very different from our current state. We have a once-in-generation opportunity to reimagine vocational education and training enabled by teaching and learning. Although it is both exciting and terrifying, I can’t wait to get to collaborating and co-designing our future,” says Merran.