November 4th, 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

This was a great week, because I actually had time to work through some backlog tasks and do some thinking — not a pace I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. And while I didn’t have quite the schedule flexibility to attend FWD50, it was a reminder that unbooked time in the calendar isn’t a luxury but rather a necessity. Some folks employ DNB (Do Not Book) style calendar blocks but I find those a bit presumptive with how reactively the week can shape up often. Rather, I believe the challenge is for us to manage our workload to a level that allows us to deliver on a few well-defined files, rather than spreading ourselves thin. This never happens intentionally of course, but once we find ourselves grappling with incessant context shifts and a deficit of time for deep work, how do we rectify? And how might we project manage ourselves to balance delivering the key priorities while ensuring quality on all we’re accountable for? Big questions, and a unique challenge for STB as a nimble, central unit working across the ministry. Reflection and refinement is always at the core of this ongoing process. A few highlights from the week:

  • I drafted generic (pan-gov) 30 and 27 level designer job descriptions as part of an effort to standardize the design hiring grid and bring more consistency to the postings. With diverse needs and design always playing catchup to other roles in gov, many areas have gone it alone in writing their JD’s to find the resources they need. I aimed for simplification and highlighting the big skills areas in these drafts. Looking forward to review and iteration with the Lab crew leading the digital talent efforts.
  • Steve Kot and I kept working on how the current Compliance and Enforcement design scope will play out over the coming months, to both line a product team up in the new year while also delivering more current-state legibility to areas of the C+E ecosystem we’ve yet to dig into. With Versett leading and Steve as PO I’m relentlessly optimistic on our delivery prospects for 2023.
  • Wednesday we delivered the last increment of our Climate Action Secretariat Digital Era Leadership curriculum. Kelsey, per the series, was stellar in the lead facilitation role. This session was the crunchy stuff: so how do we get it done?
BC’s digital landscape: a touch challenging for a newcomer to navigate.
  • Delivering training is rewarding but a sizeable lift, and it’s near impossible to make it immediately relevant for everyone the whole way through. That said, I’m grateful for the leadership of ADM Hewitt in both initiating these sessions and being a vocal champion throughout. As well, the overall engagement by CAS management was amazing. A lot to build on in the coming months and gaps to continue to address.
  • I had a coffee catchup with Amy Kirtay from the DIO talking about how her new role leading the policy file informs the forthcoming Digital Code of Practice, the Common Components and Platform work, and a host of other interesting things finance plays the lever for. Money! Understand how it works, amplify your influence and interventions.
  • I continued to delve into the EPD policy mapping against lines of service, specifically Land Remediation. Advancing policy transformation/modernization to correspond to service improvement at a parallel velocity, in a coherent way, while aligning folks from very different disciplines, is no small feat. We’re working through and I’m feeling progress. Big props to Jackie Duys for her strong work bringing us to this point — the novel design-for-policy methods she’s applied to the space provide a template for future efforts. Next steps with the ENV Strategic Policy crew hold promise for making this actionable, providing real impacts to a key government priority. End-to-end, policy-to-delivery is the promise of service transformation, but it’s not easy work!
  • The Natural Resource Sector Leadership Cohort I’m a member of assigned us to our senior exec mentors for a job shadowing experience. I’m very excited to sync up with ADM Tom McCarthy from Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation over the coming months. I’m keen to gain insight into diverse senior exec engagements and accountabilities such as ADM/DM committee meetings, Minister briefings, and/or working with Indigenous Nations — all usually just out of my line of sight at the Director level. This is the part of the cohort programming I’ve been most anticipating and I’m glad it’s here!
  • I’m helping hire the first internal UX designer at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Reviewing the resumes of the many candidates who passed through the screening was very encouraging — a lot of talented folks looking to bring their skills to gov right now. Glad to help Chris and co. find the right person to help start the long journey of making design a core organizational competency.
  • Another shoutout to Steve Kot: thanks for bringing folks together for after-work socializing on Thursday. It was a really good time! Turns out my dog isn’t the only one to get expelled from their nature walk pack for questionable behaviour 😬
Weekend ritual: run one day, surf the next. Sanity maintenance prescription.

Kelsey’s notes

As per Kevin’s note above, this week felt *slightly* slower than previous weeks. But, the bar was pretty high, so not too much more breathing room.

Delivered the final session of the Climate Action Secretariat Digital Leadership Training. This focused on the ‘how and tools’ to support digital leadership. We delivered this online, which didn’t feel as strong as the in-person sessions…and as per usual when you throw a lot of resources and links at people, it felt a bit like a firehose. That being said, we framed the resources around a few common users and journeys in government so hopefully there was a mental model to hang these tools off of. A note on the difference and impact of an engaged Executive on this work — thanks ADM Hewitt. What’s next ?— we’re building the case for in-house staff support for digital delivery and balancing our service transformation team’s priorities to offer CAS-dedicated support.

The vague beginning journey where you’re handed a brief and don’t know where to start.
The legacy dance of trying to shift to a sustainable model of product management.

I was able to pause and bring in some additional plain language and project support to help with a regional water quality website. On reflection, I should have done this sooner, but when you’re moving so fast it’s often challenging to stop and bring on additional support (but so necessary to do so). Ongoing work here to build out a sustainable model to support new web properties and coordinated communications across ENV and the natural resource sector.

Thought about a coordinated approach to web management roles and structure across the ministry — had a few chats with BC Parks and Climate Action Secretariat on this and set up a meeting with web leads later this month to discuss.

Put some thought and time to how IM/IT capital funding is allocated and teams are coordinated across the natural resource sector and in the ministry. I’m working on a few graphics to clarify roles, responsibilities within the ministry to help improve participation at key committees, clarify how we’re making decisions on funding allocation and increase awareness of who does what to fund/deliver work. This connects into broader work on permitting across the sector, as well as the ongoing work the team is doing within the Environmental Protection Digital Services.

A key question for me right now is how might we best support mature(ing) product teams? This relates to how we staff our product teams and engage with shared IM/IT services. The needs of a new Product Owner may not be the needs of a seasoned Product Owner and team— which begs the question if the offered support should scale to meet these evolving needs. Something I’ll be thinking about in the weeks to come.

A few interesting links:

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.



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