January 21st, 2022

In the spirit of transparency and candour, Kevin and Jill publish weeknotes reflecting on the what and why for their team.

Kevin’s notes

January has been flying by, I don’t know what else to lead with! Time seems to evaporate at an impossible rate. Is this what happens as you get older? Or do I just accumulate personal and professional goals, objectives, and to-do’s in a way that doesn’t give me much downtime? It’s been another action-packed week across the initiatives, here are the bullets:

  • We demoed the new brand standards documentation to GCPE HQ, stewards of the corporate brand. I’ve known the folks in that shop since my tour with GDX (back when the division was in GCPE and shared a floor), wandering down to their offices many an afternoon to shoot the breeze and look at cool gov ephemera. Our efforts were well received, and I’m glad for their blessing; they carry much hard-won experience managing public brands, and their endorsement is key in solidifying Parks’ standards for the long haul.
  • bcparks.ca: the countdown to beta continues! Harry showed off UIs and the design process at Quarantine and Quaffee. I continued to work with visitor services leadership on what competencies and team models will best support the exemplary services we’re prepping to launch this quarter.
  • I met with the design team as they work across all the in-flight initiatives. From research to testing to production, there’s a lot on the go, and they continue to work at a high velocity. The org’s design maturity has come a long, long way from when I started in April 2021, and it’s truly heartening.
  • Review of the research plan and refinement of approach. Big thanks to Amanda for taking a crack at this first iteration, it’s so much easier for the team to work from something tangible.
  • Amanda also facilitated a jurisdictional review workshop in a really enjoyable generative format. In case you were wondering, New Zealand is still best-in-class when it comes to digital services and content design. I was reminded of this piece I wrote a few years ago exploring the opportunity to learn from Aotearoa in the systemic Indigenization of our own service design and delivery — and how much progress we still need to make.
  • Meg and I prepped for an all-hands steering committee meeting (which was postponed), and I was reminded that even though my head is firmly in the flow of the process and intended outcomes, and perceive everyone involved as bought in, we’d be wise in seeking explicit endorsement from our stakeholders; part ongoing alignment, part risk management. To quote a sage ADM, government runs on decisions. An aphorism I won’t soon forget.
  • I started sketching out our design discovery approach and what we should hope to learn and action from it. This is just the very beginning — look for many more notes on this challenge space to come in 2022.
  • I attended a half-day lecture on Aboriginal Law in BC as presented by Nikki Peterson from the Ministry of Attorney General, facilitated by our Indigenous Relations branch at ENV. It was a detailed, engaging, and highly informative session; more than anything, I was inspired by Nikki’s incredible and seemingly effortless knowledge in the space, and her endurance as a presenter for 3 hours. This is the kind of high-quality pro-d that I absolutely love in the public service, grateful for the opportunity.
  • We got a demo of a couple of key services from Aaron (PO) at Mines Digital Services. Many parallels in the functionality and interactions to where we’re headed at EPD, three cheers for componentization and reusability.
  • I met w/ Amy Kirtay, acting Director of the Digital Academy at the Exchange Lab, to chat about giving some kind of design presentation as part of a new series later this spring. Thanks for thinking of me, Amy!
  • And I had lunch with Davis Levine, a friend and service designer at the DIO in Alberta. Always great to catch up about practice, politics, dogs, gardening, skiing, and where to find the best cookies (my vote is Hidden Gem).

And since it’s been a minute, here’s Murph and I from a snowy run back over the holidays.

Note the ears blowing in the wind

Jill’s notes

I ended the week feeling great. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I think it’s just pure pride. I learned a long time ago that my favourite part of the job is watching others start to achieve their goals and knowing that I had a hand in making it happen. Our EPD & STB team wowed me this week.

pretty incredible when you get to quote your staff — #goals

It’s time for a flashback to June 11th, 2021 weeknotes, where I talked about EPD jumping in with two feet and blowing their silos up willingly and deliberately. Well, we’ve had a long go since then, hiring a product owner, bringing on design, engaging with multiple branches, onboarding architecture, and business analysis. We’ve partnered with the IIT, we’ve built an incredible team, and this week — Danielle and Karen presented their experience and lessons learned. As is our culture, we are open. I wanted to share their lessons learned in their raw form for you to ponder. They broke it down into three sections:

  1. Make real, practical investments.
  2. Lean in.
  3. Commit to your own journey.

That June 11th post was also one of my favourite topics — the great divide — the murky black hole of a place where a lot of things live like — what the user needs, not just what they’ve done, how that system fits into the broader services ecosystem, and the translation of the technical speak into plain language. I’m pleased to report we are starting to close the gap. It’s not safe or easy to cross yet, but it’s possible, maybe even repeatable, and that’s a start.

filling the gap with evidence and a bigger picture… Photo by Denny Luan on Unsplash

With a lot on the go — here is the close to one-liners weekly list:

  • I had a much-needed catch-up with David Tesch on the work of his many initiatives. Eager to learn more and better support BioHub this year.
  • I participated in a focus group study on ENV policy development led by our colleagues in the Business Improvement Unit.
  • We got the latest update from IIT on the ENV application inventory. Some interesting insights re: retirement process — or lack thereof — and alignment to which applications we are investing in.
  • I had a good catch-up with my ADM James Mack. We are working through the ‘where to next’ question for STB.
  • I crushed some HR paperwork and various other forms of administeria.

Lastly, Sam is driving the intranet to completion with a few months of work left — ensuring that governance and maintenance plans are embedded. The big question is where to next? That’s easy, he’s taking Google UX courses and shadowing Kevin and Harry as they work design wizardry through the ministry. He’s growing, committing and learning — makes me smile.



notes and reflections from Kelsey Singbeil (A/Executive Director) and Kevin Ehman (Director, Strategic Design) at the Service Transformation Branch

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Service Transformation @ ENV (BC Gov)

notes and reflections from Kelsey Singbeil (A/Executive Director) and Kevin Ehman (Director, Strategic Design) at the Service Transformation Branch