What makes Sweden the world’s most responsive government?
The Swedish Prime Minister’s office is located in Rosenbad in Stockholm. Photo by Holger.Ellgaard
Sweden ended up at the top of a number of rankings in the Responsive Government Survey 2021, conducted by the Global Government Forum and PA Consulting. Richard Johnstone takes a look at the data to find out what the lessons may be
Sweden stands out as the world’s most responsive government, according to the answers from its leaders Responsive government survey. It ranks at the top of the ranking for responsiveness across categories, including ability to work on site, empowerment, autonomy and accountability, use of evidence and available tools and resources.
Its high scores easily made it the most positive of all nine countries surveyed.
These high confidence ratings continue in the various aspects of the report. 60% of the leaders who responded from Sweden agreed that there was some unnecessary bureaucracy in their organization – a level that it shared with Norway – compared to only 12% of senior officials in the UK, for example.
The respondents also said that the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has helped the country develop capabilities that did not exist before Covid. Sweden was also among the leading countries (New Zealand and Denmark are the others) that were most confident in their ability to adapt to significant changes is part of their long-term strategy.
The leaders of the same three countries also believe that they can proactively try to anticipate and respond to changing needs of citizens / stakeholders and can operate in an environment where different teams can gather at short notice to solve problems. This group is also the most convinced that they can continuously develop the skills and abilities of their workforce.
Among the leadership cohorts, Sweden once again surpassed all other nations in matters of empowerment and autonomy – a reflection of the “high trust” culture promoted by Swedish employers in all sectors. Together with Nordic colleagues in Denmark and Norway, Swedes also received high marks when they agreed that it is “always clear who is responsible for the actions and decisions made at each level in this organization”.
Leaders in Sweden, as well as colleagues in the US and Norway, also had significantly more confidence than those in other countries that “the technology we need is available or can be developed and that digital technology is completely embedded in policy-making and service design process from the beginning”.
They were also most confident that they would get the resources they needed, with 60% of the leadership group surveyed being convinced that their budget was adequate.
Trust, experimentation and risk-taking
So, what’s the story behind these high scores? Given the consistently high ratings for Sweden in the World Happiness Report, it may be that Swedish civil servants are as satisfied with their lives professionally as they are personally.
But there may be other – more managerial – explanations that provide lessons for other governments around the world.
Dani Dawoodson Razmgah, customer manager at the Swedish Companies Registration Office, said in the report that the high scores were the result of what he called “a completely different leadership style”.
He added: “I do not know how to directly translate it, but we have some kind of trust in each other. They give you” what “to do, but” how “you do it is up to you, within a framework of course. But I also know that if I do not deliver what is expected, I will no longer have a job. ”
In fact, empowerment and independence was another area where Sweden was on the top list, a reflection of this culture with high confidence. The Swedes’ willingness to trust their people is also evident in their desire to experiment and take risks – they were once again the most bullish on most statements about supporting staff to develop new ideas and solutions.
“If you think of the 80/20 rule that says 80% of people do the right thing but 20% do not follow the rules or do not deliver, then we believe that instead of checking everyone out, let’s just check out the 20% instead. “And that’s why I think this survey shows that people here are quite happy – it’s a good place to work,” said Dani Dawoodson Razmgah.