Accelerate: Strategic

Helping public sector senior leaders make a significant contribution to shaping the future.


This Wellington-based programme delivers successful outcomes in the face of complex challenges that require visionary, purposeful and agile leadership. This requires a different type of approach to leadership development. 

Accelerate: Strategic is a proven leadership development programme designed to help senior leaders in public sector organisations that are undergoing transformation to make a significant contribution to shaping the future.

Below Digby explains the idea behind the programme.





“He’s really improved his ability to assimilate the various and complex strands of our organisation’s business into an easy to understand narrative. This is excellent.”
A programme sponsor

What the programme achieves:

The programme develops senior leaders to develop the mindsets, skillsets and networks to lead their organisation well into the future, and to play an influential leadership role in the broader system in which we operate. It helps leaders to:

  • Be highly capable to lead in an environment of rapid change, uncertainty and complexity
  • Positively shape and influence culture
  • Adeptly balance priorities between delivering BAU and effecting transformation
  • Create and leverage the networks needed to lead across their organisation and the wider system

As a result, you can expect to see more ‘cut-through’, innovation, engagement, talent-flow, connectedness and resilience in your organisation and sector.

“Often you go off and do courses and programmes, and then you return to the workplace and you think. Yes, I have learnt all these amazing things, but you quickly slot back into what you’ve always been doing. The thing that I have found invaluable is that you are held to account on a number of levels. So there is the cohort group, there are your smaller peer learning groups, and there are also the coaches that you have as part of the programme.”
Karlene Symonds, Manager People and Organisational Development at Kainga Ora

“Confidence. Confidence is the one word that I would use to sum up how I think and feel differently as a leader because of this programme. Confidence in myself as a person, confidence in myself as a leader and realising that it’s okay to be vulnerable. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, vulnerabilities are a really, really important part of leadership.”
Paula Rawiri, Director of Education at the Ministry of Education

The programme is for:

Public sector leaders who are part of a senior leadership team and/or responsible for leading larger functional groups, as well as high potential talent. They’ll likely be:

  • High performing and/or high potential
  • Respected influencers
  • Highly engaged
  • Open, positive and ready to give things a go
  • Committed to being active shapers of the future public sector


“I really got a huge amount of benefit out of the programme. Lots of little defining moments. The connection of this group is unbelievable. I just can’t believe it; seems in five minutes we connected in a way that I’ve been working with people 20-something years and I hadn’t.”
Jonathan Rodgers, Director Escalations & Advising at Inland Revenue


The design principles:

Vertical development underpins the programme design. This approach focuses on developing leaders’ capacity to lead in VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Vertically developed leaders can think more systemically, see long-term possibilities, embrace challenges from multiple perspectives, and lead as interdependent collaborators.

We focus on developing deep self-awareness, a broad perspective, capacity to work with tension and difference, and resilience. It’s less about filling participants ‘cups’ with more tools and models, and more about growing their cup: their capacity to handle complexity.











To catalyse vertical development, we blend:



Heat Experiences

Encourage participants to lean into situations in their work that:

  • Stretch and challenges them
  • Force them to confront their perceived limits and unseen assumptions
  • Are new and / or different
Colliding Perspectives
  • Exposure to new and different ways of thinking and operating
  • Cultivating a network that includes diverse and colliding perspectives
Elevated Sensemaking 

Develop participants’ ability to ‘make sense’ of situations in more useful ways, including:

  • Seeing assumptions and belief systems with fresh eyes
  • Taking fresh perspectives on old problems
  • Developing a richer insight into personal drivers, triggers and habits of mind

“As a result of being on the programme, I don’t feel the same level of frustration at work that I used to. I am enjoying a way of working and I feel better each day.  In general it all feels easier and the fact is I am doing more, keeping more balls in the air and my capacity to handle multiple things at once has grown.”
Kate Tibbitts, Chief People Officer, People Capability at Ministry of Education

“I feel I have a greater clarity and understanding as to my purpose, both personally and professionally. And I think this has enabled me to make some pretty big decisions over the last 12 months.”
David Moore, National Capabilities & Outcomes Leader at Inland Revenue


How it works:

The Accelerate: Strategic programme

  • Focuses on developing through three lenses:

Critical skills

More sophisticated ways of seeing the world

Strengthening the networks needed to succeed

  • Uses participants work challenges and context as the canvas for their development
  • Involves a blend of residential and one-day workshops, peer learning groups, a range of assessment tools, and individual coaching
  • Focuses on collective and individual development
  • Is a 12 month programme
  • Works with a diverse cohort of 12-15 participants

What participants have to say about the programme:

We asked a couple of participants how the programme has changed them so far, and what tips they would give someone coming into the programme.

When’s the next programme?

The next programme is scheduled to commence end of July 2021




“If you’re thinking about joining the programme then my advice would be absolutely do it! Just dive in and do it. You can never learn too much about yourself.”
Karlene Symonds, Manager People and Organisational Development at Kainga Ora



For more information

Download this brochure for a summary of the programme

Book a conversation about Accelerate: Strategic

Interested? Let's talk

“She brings a networked approach to the work that she and her team completes. This wasn’t present previously and I think has been strengthened through her time on the Accelerate programme.”

Sponsor of programme participant.

“He’s really improved his ability to assimilate the various and complex strands to our organisation’s business into an easy to understand narrative. This is excellent.”

Sponsor of programme participant