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Transformation Wagen – Daring Transformations


Transformation Wagen - "Daring Transformations" is a learning programme co-developed with and for public servants in the field of Environmental Politics in Germany. Aiming at enhancing tools for public administration to renew itself, it creates capacities and methodologies to handle major societal challenges and foster a transformative mindset to actively shape the future and not just react to what is happening.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The world is fundamentally and rapidly changing: climate breakdown, demographic change and geopolitical shifts to name a few. Governments must become more agile and innovate to keep pace with these entangled challenges. In the last decade, research and development of new conceptualisation tools and methodologies have allowed us to recognise recurrent multidimensional and interdependent institutional crises, asking for more drastic and transdisciplinary innovations.
"Daring Transformations' ' is a learning and capacity building programme developed for civil servants in the field of environmental policy, allowing them to acquire mindset and transformative literacy to facilitate systemic change processes.

The objectives are co-elaborated as follows:

1-Developing competencies within the political administration to empower public servants to be actors of change. As the identity of public administration is evolving, employees are proactively desiring and demanding for sustainable guidance and pathways. Public sectors need to acquire new competences. We respond to such demands and offer transformative literacy competencies for a future-fit public system.

2- Creating collaborations and fostering working habits beyond departmental and organisational boundaries. Dealing with convoluted problems whose origins lie beyond one's own field is often part of everyday life in public administrations. Those who are looking for solutions that go beyond the treatment of symptoms must think in an integrated and cross-policy way. Different perspectives enrich the work on political challenges - new forms of cooperation are therefore an important learning field for administration.

3- Developing knowledge and awareness on social and systemic dynamics. Society is mutating, asking public administrations to deal with complexity and constant change. Accompany change, design options and power to act can be developed if the system dynamics, path dependencies as well as the needs and relationships of those involved are understood.

4-Understanding policy development as a learning and agile field. Experimental learning makes transformation tangible. Experience-based training approaches motivate participants to work on their own challenges and questions. In this way, policy-makers can independently acquire relevant knowledge and new competences to accompany transformation processes in an impact-oriented way. This requires structures that promote openness for new ideas and self-effective action. Policy can be developed in a contemporary way: participatory, exploratory and context-specific.

Based on transformative literacy methods, on assessments of the political-administrative landscape’s innovation and organisational capacity and on arising cross-organisational needs, four main modules were developed during the early phases of the learning programme. They then serve as a framework for further on-going experimentations and transformative learnings. The three of the four modules are as follows:


1) Systemic understanding of problems and transformative approaches. The methods offered are encouraging experimentation and collaboration ( e.g. localisation of systemic causes based on the iceberg model, mapping and understanding of system dynamics… ).

2)Reflection on different perspectives and discovering different realities through methods such as the transformative actor analysis.

3) Self-reflection and empathy. Creativity and self-awareness are very much encouraged through methods such as creative cartwheel and future theatre.


The fourth module aims to accompany and facilitate deeper change and design, transforming the workplace culture. Courage and perseverance are core values of this programme and methodologies such as storytelling blueprint, golden circle, routine loop develop and strengthen these values. Participants can then embrace transformative literacy and take on the role of advocates and facilitators themselves, disseminating and scaling the programme in their respective departments and work environments.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

The development of the learning programme was innovative in the way it has been designed: collaboratively and based on challenges and needs of different personas from the German Environment Agency, the Federal Ministry for Environment and the Agency for Nuclear Safety. “Daring Transformations”  is unique as it encompasses the steps of transformation in a co-design manner, enabling participants to become themselves transformative agents. This is enabled through deep understanding of transformative literacy; through discovery and reflection of others’ perspectives and through self reflection and empathy.

What is the current status of your innovation?

Initially, the programme has been developed for civil servants in the field of environmental politics. We are currently developing a second iteration of the program aimed to be suitable for all federal employees. The scaling focuses on two main aspects: offering different formats based on employee’s level of engagement and capacity to commit, inviting participants to create their own version of the programme and encouraging them to become facilitators and advocates within their working environments to other colleagues of theirs. Imagining ahead, "Daring Transformations" would become a new baseline education for all civil servants with leadership responsibilities and transformative policy tasks.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

Daring transformations is a learning programme funded under the Federal Environment Ministry's departmental research plan on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency. This programme was developed by Politics for Tomorrow and the Forschungszentrum für Umweltpolitik (Environmental Policy Research Centre) in partnership with the Institut Futur, Universität Kassel and the Competence Center for design and Management at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The programme was developed for and by public servants in the field of Environmental Politics in Germany. On its second iteration, the learning programme is designed in such a way that it can be implemented and tested in different fields. German federal public administration can plant the seeds for transformative literacy, as precedent for other countries and nations in need of deep transformation.

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

The implementation of the programme was evaluated both concomitantly and ex-post. Through the on-going evaluation and monitoring, the facilitation team continuously and systematically observed the progress of the participants. For example, direct feedback was taken into account in the further implementation phases of the programme. Ex-post surveys and interviews clarified the value of the learning experience, and summaries were offered to responsible leaders allowing them to share learnings and methodologies with their colleagues and further disseminate transformative literacy.

Challenges and Failures

The programme has been developed for environment administration officers. The challenge is that all public institutions - not only the ones focusing on climate mitigation and environmental policies - have to prepare for ”daring transformations”. There is no "toolbox'' or solution for wicked problems nor do participants leave with a degree for “solving” anything. However, they become more aware of the complexity of profound social and system change processes and find increased agency in their roles in driving these processes. Another challenge is that transformations have different dimensions and concern different visible and invisible levels - which takes time.

Conditions for Success

To be implemented in other contexts, finding project leaders ready to embrace the complexity, responsibility and accountability that come with transformative processes. Resources and capacity in coaching during the workshops, in participant management and communication, in coordination of content contributions, in technical and administrative support and in accompanying ex-post evaluations. Overall, the success of the programme can be measured in the continuation and the broadening of the initial programme to all federal civil servants during its second iteration.


The productive use of online learning tools and asynchronous collaboration rendered the programme more accessible, user-friendly and convenient. Furthermore, the second iteration of the programme is aiming to be more replicable and accessible to the entire federal administration. It is offering multiple formats and different levels of commitment such as prerecorded learning videos, audio courses and onsite workshops. Additionally, the programme focuses on the train-the-trainer approach, allowing participants to bring and implement what they have learned to their own organisation.

Lessons Learned

"Daring Transformations" are challenging. It implies a strong reflective phase, and asks us to acknowledge where we are positioning in the transition process– personally, professionally and collectively. Transformational skills also invite us to take more risks and drastic measures. It is calling for radical honesty and courage.

Year: 2020
Level of Government: National/Federal government


  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
  • Developing Proposals - turning ideas into business cases that can be assessed and acted on
  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

Innovation provided by:


Date Published:

16 November 2022

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