September 2nd, 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

Kelsey was off this week savouring the runout of summer with the family so I’m solo on the weeknotes.

It was a big week for CleanBC with the team pushing hard on development and content population for a steering committee demo on Thursday. And deliver they did, with Allieren walking stakeholders through the product along with the context that’s brought us to this point, so close to public launch. Positive reactions and a good test run as we head into ADM and DM briefings next week.

Allieren and I spent a lot of time in back and forth this week on framing, narrative, structure, etc. It made me think: leadership of an initiative such as this — cross-organizational, complex, novel — is best practiced in a kind of partnership, much as we’d advocate for with designers/researchers. The best work is always collaborative and generative, why not leadership as well? There’s no question Allieren, the product owner, is leading the work, but I’d like to think my value at this juncture is as a co-strategist and sounding board, which I know from experience can make all the difference at key delivery intervals.

I spent a lot of time with Steve this week as we looked forward in the compliance and enforcement space. Another round of design research expanding outward in the system, getting the RFP moving for development team procurement, and aligning exec around all this may entail. I really enjoy this dynamic, the indefinable strategic design challenge of the slowly-revealing organization, manipulating the substance of the org — its processes, rituals, norms — to optimize for ideal outcomes. It’s challenging to quantify as a practice much beyond an overstanding of the system, attempting always to see interconnections and work proactively with efforts in concert.

I also dove a bit deeper into design approaches/thinking for complex data systems. That is, how do you take acreted legacy systems/ways of working and design both principally (eg, ‘for the users’) and granularly (for the specific, discrete data and its relationships). I was grateful to tag in Gord Ross (OXD) for a convo on the subject, leveraging his bibliographic depth and experience in proxy spaces (like the justice sector, where data is primacy). We discussed how to best frame the exercise, multidisciplinary teams, imposter syndrome in unknown spaces, governance, and reference materials. Speaking of which:

Gord also raised a point via Cameron Tonkinwise, via Amitav Ghosh, regarding what consistutues ‘data’:

Perhaps a bridge too far for this organization at this moment, but important to centre in our advocacy and framing as designers, or those who construct the mechanisms of futuring powers. I don’t do Twitter but I love to scroll feeds (which is much easier now thanks to the discovery of Nitter). Tonkinwise is hot and cold on the platform but seems to be on a recent streak. I appreciated this indictment of extractive design as advocated for by cliched UX influencer/startup types:

Ethics are the cornerstone on which our good practices are built. Without them you only have the familiar and failed patterns of capitalism reproducing themselves, finding friendly brands (human centered design) under which to conceal themselves.

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)

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