Working in the Open: Weeks 19 & 20

One of Code for Canada’s principles is to operate in public. These bi-weekly blog posts put that value into practice, giving readers a window into what we’re doing — and how we do it.

If the past two weeks at Code for Canada were a character on The Muppets, they’d be Kermit the Frog. Things were busier than usual, but we knew that the show must go on — and it did, thanks to some solid teamwork. Best of all, we made time to appreciate our teammates and colleagues, and — in the spirit of The Muppets — we shared a few laughs.

Meghan was in P.E.I. last week to deliver a panel presentation on human-centred design at the Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s annual conference. While there, she met with government innovators from across the country, including public servants and intrapreneurs from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and the Northwest Territories.

Speaking of conferences, we’re busy preparing to present at a number of exciting events in the fall: Gabe and Lia are headed to Taiwan for #CivicTechFest 2017, Dorothy and Gabe will be repping Code for Canada across a series of keynotes and workshops at FWD50, Gabe will be on a panel with Ontario CDO Hillary Hartley at the Municipal Innovators Community conference in Guelph, and we’re thrilled by the planned civic tech showcase at Connected Canada 150 in Ottawa. There’s a groundswell of interest in digital government in Canada right now and we’re excited to meet new people — including you! — at these events.

We watched an eclipse together. Luke took some time out of his work day on Aug. 21 to prototype an official Code for Canada pinhole camera, so we could enjoy the solar eclipse in relative safety. We’re happy to report that the camera was a success, and that Code for Canada is well positioned to take advantage of the next total solar eclipse in 2024.

We honestly don’t know where the ramen box came from, but it made a nice pinhole camera.

Gabe travelled to B.C. last week — splitting his time between work and vacation — and met with folks from the provincial government, the City of Burnaby and the CityStudio innovation hub. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for civic tech and digital government on the West Coast — there’s even a new civic tech meetup! — and we expect we’ll be back sooner rather than later! We hope to be back to B.C. soon, and next time, we’ll host an Open House too!

When he returned to the office, Gabe was greeted by his cardboard doppleganger. To celebrate his birthday, Code for Canada pitched in to get Gabe a special present that illustrated how much we miss him when he’s away. Suffice to say, the reveal was priceless. We’ll keep you updated on cardboard Gabe’s adventures in future weeknotes.

Real Gabe meets cardboard Gabe.

We’re pleased to announce that Jake Miller has been hired as one of Canada’s very first civic tech product managers! Jake will be working with Code for Canada, Civic Tech Toronto, Cycle Toronto and the City of Toronto to steward the development of a new digital civic engagement tool focused on bicycle parking. Jake, an avid cyclist, holds a Master’s in Critical Information Policy from the University of Toronto and is a regular fixture at Civic Tech Toronto hacknights. The project he’ll be leading embodies the principle of “build with, not for” and we’re confident that its success will serve as a model for how local governments and civic tech can work together!

In her own words, Jenny has been continuing her “general butt-kicking and name-taking,” a streak that includes clearing our paperwork backlog with surprising panache, as well as finalizing our expenses and vacation policies (you might recognize the latter from an earlier weeknotes). More importantly, Jenny has finished meeting with staff to discuss their objectives and key results for this quarter and has begun designing our staff performance reviews.

We’re migrating our kanban boards to digital.

We’ve begun iterating on our weekly sprints (or ‘heartbeats’ as we call them). Back in June, we set a working agreement to do regular standup and retrospective meetings each week for a month, utilizing kanban boards and sticky notes to track our progress. Months later, we’re still doing them, and the process has helped us to understand our priorities and surface learnings each and every week. Now, we’re looking at ways to improve the practice. We’re going to try using Trello to replace our kanban boards, in order to make the meetings more accessible to the entire team. As a small organization where staff work different hours, work remotely and are sometimes on the road, we want to ensure we’re all in alignment towards our most important goals.

Elsewhere, we’ve had our heads down putting the finishing touches on a number of projects, including fellowship recruitment and the new Civic Tech Toolkit, which you’ll hear more about very soon — so stay tuned!