March 28, 2023 Reflection — Transitioning from weeknotes


In the spirit of transparency and candour, the service transformation team publishes reflections on the what and why for the team.

Hiya! It’s been a minute…weeknotes have been intermittent for Kevin and I over the last while due to a couple inter-related things:

1) Our team has become increasingly busy with work across the ministry. We’re involved in many files — from fast-paced priority projects to longer-term service-driven transformation efforts. As a result, we’re usually fried on Fridays and it’s hard to pull together coherent thoughts on our week.

2) Team reflections seem more appropriate at this point. We ran a team retro earlier this year reflecting on the Service Transformation Branch deliveries and ways of working in 2022. One of the opportunities identified was to be more intentional with sharing our lessons learned, methods and case studies as a team — not just through our weeknotes. Kevin and I both noted that our ‘best’ weeknotes are those that describe the what, how, why of our work — not just a list of the meetings we had during the week. This points to a reframing of our weeknotes to something driven by the whole Service Transformation team that details the work we do.

So — going forward in 2023, we’ll be reframing our weeknotes to monthly/ad-hoc reflections on our work from members across our service transformation team. We’ll collectively reflect on the what, why and how of our service transformation efforts.

As a transition from weeknotes to monthly reflections, I’m sharing some highlights and narrative on our 2022 branch retro. As I’ve said many times, retros are such an invaluable way to reflect on and improve the work we do. But they require you to take action on the opportunities identified, so sharing our learnings and musings on what worked, didn’t work and opportunities for the branch below is one way I’m keeping our 2022 retro alive.

Retro on the retro:

  • We ran the retro virtually, using one of MURAL’s set retro templates.
  • For each section we spent five minutes of individually brainstorming, followed by 10 minutes of discussion and theming of ideas.
Service Transformation Branch 2022 retrospective.

Report back on our ideas and themes

What worked well in 2022?

  • Open, thoughtful and supportive ways of working.
  • Smooth (or as smooth as possible) staff transitions on the team (people coming and going).
  • Lots of delivery within product teams and with our program partners.
  • Division capital IM/IT business cases received funding, and several new Product Teams were forms — i.e. an increase in capacity on improving service delivery and digital applications.
  • Expanded the design and delivery practice to include policy discussions, where we mapped policy to lines of service, worked alongside policy teams and co-identified opportunities for improvement.
  • Ongoing Executive support for service transformation and bringing multi-skilled teams (operations, policy, digital) together. This looked like supporting new roles, participating in training sessions and day-to-day reinforcement with staff.
  • We’re now working across the ministry in all divisions, which helps us to see patterns and opportunities at a ministry-scale.

What didn’t go great in 2022:

  • Challenging governance on cross-sector initiatives — it’s hard to find sustained, strategic participation on initiatives where accountability is diffused.
  • When initiatives weren’t key priorities our partners, it was hard to get the attention of ministry staff (they’re busy!).
  • Understanding the pros and cons of different web platforms/technology on the fly.
  • The team found it challenging to jump in and out of projects as priorities and capacity shifted — it was jarring and tricky for team continuity.
  • Confusion around new approaches to procurement and roles/responsibilities with sector shared services.
  • Confusion around sector-based approaches to digital investment, talent and roles — who does what and accountability.

Some ideas we could action:

  • Building a clearer Service Transformation Branch roadmap, noting key priorities and who’s doing what, when (*always subject to change!).
  • Setting the stage for ENV designers to work more closely.
    Action: A monthly ENV designer meet-up has already kicked-off, with a focus on common design principles.
  • Sharing our methods, lessons learned, and products more intentionally
    Action: Changes to our weeknotes format, weekly show/share for the Service Transformation Branch on Thursday mornings, Participation in cross-government meet-ups and showcases (Digital Livestream, cross-government Design Community Meet-Ups).
  • Continuing to push and develop our skills (professional development)
    Action: Team-based professional development, Team reading/professional development weeks (setting aside time).
  • Investing the tools we need to do our jobs.
    Action: Qualitative research tools to speed up analysis, Design system to support consistent look and feel of ENV services.

What we should take action on:

  • Find a clearer path to IM/IT planning for the ministry, including defined roles and accountabilities.
  • Hire the right roles and classifications into multi-skilled teams in the ministry.
  • Ensure product teams are supported to deliver high-quality, well-designed services.
  • Build out new practice roles (data, content and technical roles) in the Service Transformation Branch to help us better support teams.
  • Participate in our division mission sessions to ensure we collectively are all rowing in the same direction and can collaborate.
  • Build out the pillars of the ENV design practice.
  • Share our work with each other, across the ministry and government (see ideas above!)

We’ve got some clear to-dos in the days and months ahead. Looking forward to putting them into action.

Spring! Transitioning away from Weeknotes and winter.

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.



Service Transformation @ ENV (BC Gov)

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