August 5th, 2022

In the spirit of transparency and candour, we publish weeknotes reflecting on the what and why for the ENV service transformation team.

Kevin’s notes

It’s been an up and down ride the past few weeks; getting sick twice (including finally COVID, after ducking and weaving successfully for 2.5 years) equalled a lot of home time during peak summer, something I’m not accustomed to. But your body has ways of telling you things you need to know, and I likely required the downtime as I cooked things pretty hard through the first half of 2022 with running, racing, my thesis, and work. So with my newly acquired rumbling cough in tow, this was a bit of a bounceback week, albeit of the 4 day variety.

  • The new and much improved GoElectric launched! I’ll spare repeating my LinkedIn post here, but it is a big deal. Huge congrats to everyone involved over past 6 months or so.
  • Ceremonies week with CleanBC as we transition sprints: we led Tuesday with a demo from a very productive last few week, with the design system and content strategy becoming fully formed. It’s peak summer vacation season in the BCPS so slimmer attendance than optimal, as I’d love wider line of sight into the exemplary delivery velocity and open ways of working this team is showcasing.
  • I attended a longform EPD product discovery session as we prepare on onboard the agile team and begin work on the Land Remediation digital service. Many moments of truth on the horizon as the crunchy process of making all that discovery research real commences. I’ve learned a lot about the criticality of the first few sprints through experience the past couple years and I’m excited to lean into this work with the teams.
  • Steve and I drafted up the scope for further design activities with Compliance and Enforcement. Time to harness that momentum from an excellent exploration phase and continue building out a current state understanding along with maps for where to next.
  • I made initial (re)connections back to bcparks.ca; advancing beta of the information service to the primary public touchpoint remains an A1 priority and I’m keen to capitalize on new opportunities to do so.

Let’s talk about content governance. Wait, please stick around, I promise it’s worth it! Actually Good Content —outside-in, design researched, tested—is a big lift. But we have plenty of guidance materials in the BCPS to help and a host of outside objective standards and good practices you can lean on. However, designing Actually Good Content, while a lot of work, is a rather legible and repeatable practice. Delivering the content is where things get tricky.

Reviews, approvals, sign off — name a more opaque process to navigate in a complex multi-stakeholder environment. Government as both delivery platform and operational arena ramps up the challenge with justifiable concerns about accuracy, completeness, and alignment with mandate. This common antipattern that tends to erode the content’s user-centricity though a thousand cuts. However, consensus-driven, transparent, and intelligible governance can help index towards more effective and efficient delivery processes. Some quick reflection as we work through this in real time:

  • Always be aligning (thanks Kelsey!). Governance is ultimately about who decides, so make sure, especially in a hierarchical environment, that key deciders are scaffolded in the process early and often. We’ve tried to do this with a steering committee (later pivoting to open sprint demos to minimize meeting redundancy) but if this doesn’t gain traction, be proactive — get in folks calendars and provide updates on what’s coming and what’s expected. No one in gov likes surprises, real or perceived.
  • Team work makes the dream work. In this case, a content working group. Make meetings working meetings (I think I said this already a couple weeks ago). Frontload the week with homework and then advance in it a collaborative session.
  • Try to find the minimum viable signoff authority. I believe Actually Good Content can be finalized at the staff level, but I accept it isn’t always so simple. But advocating for autonomy and authority in advancing ‘final’ content is the correct starting point; let folks define their own approvals pathways from there and only escalate as absolutely required.
  • Use centralized repositories and visible markup in shared documents. Avoid emailing hardcopies back and forth at all costs. Google is the gold start here obviously, but Teams does a decent job combined w/ Sharepoint and we gotta run what we got!
  • Make sure there is a well-defined north star — in this case, user-focused content that aligns to a well-research mental model of how services addressing the climate crisis in BC should be delivered, including, critically, content-as-a-service. This has been tested and validated, so the content model and information architecture should not be up for debate. Maintaining alignment around this truth is the necessary foundation for appropriate governance.

This week in tabs:

Have a great weekend, may it contain a moment of zen such as the late evening light filtering through a tent body on a mountain ridge, seen below.

Note the Golden Hinde, Vancouver Island’s tallest summit, looming in the background.

Kelsey’s notes

I’ll keep it short and just celebrate launch week!

Congrats to the CleanBC team on pushing the refreshed GoElectric site live. Echoing Kevin here on celebrating the work and diligence of the team to ground this work in user research, testing and ongoing analytics. Looking forward to continuing this momentum into the fall!

Homepage for GoElectric.gov.bc.ca featuring an electric vehicle.
A new GoElectric.gov.bc.ca homepage informed by user research and testing.

The opinions and views expressed in this post are solely the author’s and do not represent those of the Province of British Columbia or any other parties.

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Service Transformation @ ENV (BC Gov)

Reflections on process and practice from the Service Transformation team at ENV. Formerly weeknotes (2021-23). ENV.ServiceTransformation@gov.bc.ca