The Human Element in Public Service and Digital Transformation: Insights from the Brazilian Senate

Strategic Partners



This essay examines the experiences and challenges faced by public servants in the Brazilian Senate while incorporating the human element into digital transformation. It discusses the importance of organizational culture, collaboration, and innovative approaches in fostering a more efficient and effective public service. By delving into the various aspects of digital transformation, this essay seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the human-centered approach in public service transformation.


Challenges in the Public Service:


Working in the Brazilian Senate, public servants often face bureaucratic hurdles and resistance to change. As the legislative process tends to prioritize established norms and practices, it can be challenging for those eager to explore creative solutions and propose new ideas. Organizational culture within the Senate can be heterogeneous, with some areas more open to change and others resistant. The presence of power silos and lack of alignment among support structures further complicates the quest for innovation. Moreover, the uncertainty of mandates and possible changes in the chain of command add an additional layer of complexity to the innovation process.


The Value of Human-centered Digital Transformation:


Digital transformation should not be solely about technology but rather about valuing people, their unique abilities, and the organizational culture that supports them. This perspective suggests that technology should be used to automate repetitive tasks, allowing people to focus on strategic, empathetic, and adaptive roles within their workflow. In the context of the Brazilian Senate, initiatives have been undertaken to automate clerical functions and develop employees’ competencies for strategic roles. These efforts help to create an environment that encourages continuous learning, professional development, and the pursuit of innovative solutions.


The Role of Innovation and Collaboration:


An essential aspect of fostering innovation in the public sector is building a collaborative environment. The Brazilian Senate has seen the establishment of innovation support units that encourage cross-sector collaboration, engagement, and dialogue among stakeholders. These units employ human-centered design principles, such as design thinking, to create solutions to old problems. By involving diverse stakeholders, these units aim to generate a holistic understanding of the challenges faced and develop well-rounded solutions that address the needs of all parties involved.


Organizational Culture and Psychological Safety:


For innovation to thrive, public servants must feel psychologically safe to propose changes and criticize established practices. However, this sense of safety can be jeopardized by negative leadership behaviors and the complex hierarchical structure of the Senate. The presence of power silos and the lack of alignment among support structures contribute to a challenging environment for those eager to embrace change. It is crucial for leaders within the organization to actively support and encourage innovative thinking and provide a safe space for employees to express their ideas and opinions.


Lessons Learned and Moving Forward:


Experiences in the Brazilian Senate provide valuable insights into the importance of being aware of looming risks, investigating the willingness of partners and stakeholders to embrace change, and focusing on collaboration and engagement. Utilizing a variety of innovative approaches, such as design thinking, agile methods, user experience design, service design, behavioral sciences, and systemic thinking, can help foster an environment conducive to change.


Additionally, integrating evidence-based research and expert input in the innovation process ensures that solutions are grounded in facts and knowledge. This approach enables more assertive and clear decision-making while promoting collaboration and engagement. By combining the collective efforts of diverse stakeholders with the expertise of specialists, public servants can achieve more comprehensive and effective outcomes.


The successful examples of innovation in the Brazilian Senate, such as the redesign of the Senate’s internet portal and the application of UX tools to improve the electronic system of documents management, demonstrate the potential impact of incorporating the human element in digital transformation. These initiatives have led to improved user experiences and higher satisfaction levels among both employees and citizens.


To further the progress of digital transformation in the Brazilian Senate and other public organizations, it is crucial to continue promoting a culture of collaboration, engagement, and open communication. Leaders should be willing to invest in the professional development of their employees and encourage the exploration of new ideas and innovative approaches. This includes nurturing cross-sector partnerships and learning from international best practices to keep abreast of disruptive movements and emerging trends in the public sector.




Incorporating the human element in digital transformation within the Brazilian Senate involves addressing the challenges posed by bureaucracy, organizational culture, and the lack of alignment among support structures. By prioritizing collaboration, innovation, and the development of strategic competencies, public servants can work towards a more efficient, effective, and human-centered public service. Embracing a human-centered approach to digital transformation can significantly improve the public sector’s ability to adapt to evolving needs and deliver better services to citizens.

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