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Practical guide to attacking problems released

20 July 2004

Practical guide to attacking problems released

A practical guide to help government services and community groups attack and solve intractable community problems through a team approach is now available, State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

"The Circuit Breaker workbook has been developed by the State Services Commission and is a web-based practical guide to problem solving. It was developed following the recent trial of circuit breaker teams on service delivery problems in Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua.

“The idea is to take tough problems out of Wellington and hand them over to teams made up of frontline staff from different agencies. These teams then use their combined knowledge to propose new ways of working in order to address difficult problems,” Trevor Mallard said.

The workbook is designed to enable people in the public service and others with web access, such as community groups, to find out about and apply the circuit breaker approach. It covers the theory and principles of circuit breaking, the practical “how to” aspects, a step-by-step guide, and a toolkit of useful items.

“Our government is intent on strengthening the public service. This project is part of an all-of-government initiative that encourages agencies to work together better to improve the delivery of services to New Zealanders. It will complement the Mosaics workbook, produced by SSC in 2003, which is a good practice guide to better regional coordination among state sector and other agencies.

"The circuit breaker approach has also attracted international interest with New Zealand officials recently being asked to share their knowledge and practical experiences with Australian organisations interested in adopting the circuit breaker approach,” Trevor Mallard said.

The workbook can be found at: The Mosaics report was published by the Ministry of Social Development and is available at The results of the circuit breaker pilots and related work are in the attached briefing paper, also available at


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