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Service delivery in government is a risk because it requires us, as public servants, to do things differently than they’ve been done in the past. That unknown is scary. 

But often, the biggest risk is to not do anything differently. Because if we’re not changing something, one thing, we’re holding back bigger change.  

In this issue, we talk about tangible ways to see that change. We know that usable, adaptable, and resilient systems don’t emerge whole from a grand plan — they’re the result of small changes, building, and learning.

The biggest risk is not to do anything differently.

Roadmap to better government services

Earlier this year, we published a roadmap in response to a challenge to “digitize all public-facing federal services by 2025.” 

We didn’t propose to build specific things, solve specific problems, or improve specific services. The roadmap is a guide to improve how we design and deliver services together. And that starts with small changes.

Watch one person use your whole service.

So where the heck do we start?

Start small with one thing. Somewhere, anywhere. Want some examples of what that one thing could be?

  • Invest in a team (not in a project) to explore and then solve a problem. 
  • Ask why one big project shouldn’t be broken into multiple, smaller projects.
  • Measure outcomes, not just outputs. Ask how you’re going to measure the success of the project against baseline (the “before”) data.
  • Watch one person use your service. Then watch another. Make your teammates watch too. 
  • If it seems like a rule is preventing you from doing any of this,  ask whether it’s really a rule. Ask for the source of the rule and what it would take to update it.

In the community:

Women in Leadership 
November 18, Toronto
November 22, Ottawa
November 26, Victoria
November 28, Edmonton

Annual Digital Open Government Forum: Program
November 26, Ottawa

GovConnect BC 
December 3, 2019, Victoria 

How to be digital in the Canadian public service
January 2020, online

Service Design Guild
The Ontario Public Service

Share your stories!

How did your team do something differently to improve how you deliver services to the public? What was hard about it? What did you learn that you think other public servants should know? 

We’re passionate about this kind of stuff, and sharing these stories. Let’s not work alone in the dark. Let’s work in the open to make a collective change together.


Work with us!

We're looking for a Head of Product Management, Senior Developers, and a Technical Writer.  If you think one of these could be you, apply to join the team.

We want to hear from you, eh?

What parts of this newsletter did you like most? Is there anything you'd like to see that we haven't talked about?  Let us know.

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