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Taking the time to pause and reflect on work can understandably be hard to justify sometimes. Especially when time’s tight and deadlines are looming. In those moments, it can be hard to think of anything but the tasks directly in front of you that day. But slowing down for a moment of reflection can sometimes be a catalyst to help you move forward – right when you might need it most.

In this issue, we’re sharing examples of how pausing to reflect on goals and problems helped us re-focus on the things that would help drive more impact in the long run.

Four wood blocks displaying a pause symbol.

Measuring cultural change

Cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. And sometimes not even over weeks and months. It happens so slowly, that if you don’t take the time to look for it, progress can often be missed.

Our partners at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) learned this when they paused to reflect on their “Most Significant Change” since starting to build a cybercrime reporting tool with us. Read their blog post to see what they learned, and how they’re using the information to keep moving forward.  

A video call with different team members. They’re waving and interacting with each other’s squares on the grid.

Making virtual onboarding better

When the pandemic hit, a lot changed at work. But what hadn’t changed was our need to grow our team. This meant, despite everything being virtual, we still had lots of people to interview and hire.

After taking time to reflect, we realized our pre-pandemic ways of onboarding new employees wasn’t effective in our new virtual reality. Read how we used that realization to try something new.

Three columns titled “Went well”, “To improve”, and “Action items”. There are ideas listed under each column.

Quick tips: running retros

Interested in pausing to reflect as a team, but don’t know where to start? One way to do this is by running a “blameless retrospective”, or a “retro” for short. 

Retros are a structured way to help highlight progress and opportunities for improvement, without pointing fingers. 

There are many ways to run them. Here’s one of those ways.
Setting it up:
Pick a platform where everyone on your team can brainstorm in writing together. We often use EasyRetro, but something like Miro or Google Docs would work too. 

Create three columns where people can add their thoughts. The headers of each column can be:

  • Went well - what worked that we should keep doing?
  • To improve - where are there opportunities for us to do something better?
  • Action items - what are the things we can do now to make it better for next time?

Running it:
  1. Have a facilitator - preferably from outside your team - run the activity and keep time. 
  2. Introduce the activity and any ground rules for making sure this is a safe space to be honest. 
  3. Set a 5 minute timer for people to think and add thoughts under the “Went well” column.
  4. Take a few minutes to group similar ideas together. 
  5. Give everyone 3 votes to pick the thoughts that they agree with most.
  6. Set another 5 minute timer for the team to discuss the top voted ideas. 
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 for the next two columns.  
At the end, you should have a good idea of what to keep doing and some tangible next steps for improvement!

In the community:

Digital accelerator demo day
Canada School of Public Service
June 28

How failing leads to stronger innovation
Federal Youth Network
July 6

Intro to agile for public servants
July 14

COVID Alert: designing an inclusive service
Montreal’s IT Community of Practice
Recording (in French)

Product development in the Canadian government
GC Agile Community

Visual storytelling to serve people better
Mon Carnet 
Podcast (in French)

Work with us!

We’re hiring for these roles:

  • Executive Assistant
  • Senior Content Designer
  • Technical Support Developer
  • Translator/Content Coordinator

If you think this could be you, apply to join the team!

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Canadian Digital Service · Government of Canada · 219 Laurier Ave W · Ottawa, ON K1P 5J6 · Canada