Working in the Open: Weeks 23 & 24

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 special occasion, they would be your own birthday party. Lots of cool things are happening at C4C right now, but it’s been hard to slow down and enjoy them because we’re busy planning and ensuring our guests have a great time!

We’re preparing fellowship onboarding. Our inaugural cohort of fellows will be touching down at Code for Canada in less than three weeks! The whole team has been preparing for their arrival, particularly Lia and Meghan, who are building an entire month of onboarding to prepare fellows — and their government partners — to drive digital transformation in the public sector. There will be training, workshops and activities on everything from agile development practices to negotiation and working with open data.

Almost all of the pieces for onboarding have come together, and we’ve booked a stellar roster of special guests, including Dan Hon, the former Editorial Director at Code for America, former Code for America fellow Marc Hebert, Sameer Vasta from the Ontario Digital Service, Anatole Papadopoulos, Executive Director at the Canadian Digital Service, and Michael Maddock, Assistant Deputy Minister at Ontario’s Cabinet Office.

A number of companies and organizations have offered to serve as venues during onboarding, including HackerYou, Pivotal Labs, Ryerson University’s Sandbox, Canada Learning Code, TWG and Oliver Wyman! Our offices are pretty great, but we’re thrilled to be able to host fellows at such an awesome and diverse group of spaces during onboarding!

And speaking of fellows, we’ll be announcing who they are next week! Stay tuned!

Meghan and Gabe began teaching Digital Government and Civic Tech. The course we taught last Spring has returned to Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education. The first class was on Sept. 27; there were 14 students, many of whom work for the Ontario Public Service and are eager to learn how digital tools and methods can help them serve residents better.

The course is new and improved, having incorporated feedback from the first iteration, as well as from two recent workshops (three-day intensive versions of the course) offered to staff at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. In particular, there’s even more hands-on activities and Canadian case studies of digital government!

Dorothy, Gabe and Meghan were all in Ottawa this week. Gabe and Dorothy held a meeting with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from various federal departments to discuss Code for Canada and the fellowship program. The assembled CIOs are responsible for many of the technology systems behind our national public services, and they had some great questions and feedback about the fellowship! Meghan was in the capital — her old stomping grounds as a former federal public servant — on Thursday to deliver a workshop for the Public Policy Forum.

Gabe spoke at the Municipal Innovators Community (MiC) Conference in Guelph. MiC is a network for city staff to connect, learn and share their experiences and ideas of municipal innovation. Gabe was joined by Ontario’s Chief Digital Officer, Hillary Hartley, and Canadian Digital Service co-founder Ryan Androsoff to discuss how digital tools and methods can improve the way governments deliver services to residents. A big thank you to Guelph for hosting the conference!

From right: Hillary Hartley, Ryan Androsoff and Code for Canada’s Gabe Sawhney at MiC 2017. (Photo courtesy of the City of Guelph/Twitter)

On Sept. 19, we held a celebration at a local pub in Toronto to thank everyone who helped us assess fellowship candidates. Over 30 Canadian developers, designers and product managers volunteered to help us select our fellowship cohort, and we wanted to appreciate all their contributions. Those who could attend (members of the selection panel were spread across Canada, and as far away as Silicon Valley) received a sneak peek at who the fellows are! We also got some great feedback; many of the panellists genuinely enjoyed the process, and some said they learned things about recruitment that they’ll incorporate into their next hiring round!

We’ve got more Open Houses on the way! We’ve been pretty heads down with fellowship work over the past few months, but we’re committed to working in the open and happy to have some more Open Houses on the calendar, including an online discussion on Oct. 25 and another event in Toronto on Nov. 23, where attendees will get a chance to meet some of the fellows! We’re also planning to join the folks at Civic Tech London at their hacknight on Oct. 10! We look forward to seeing you at our next event!

We’re preparing for our next quarterly retreat. We can’t believe it, but we’re already at the end of another quarter! Jenny and Matt have been hard at work planning next week’s staff retreat and reflection. They’ve even arranged to host it at the Sandbox at Ryerson University! It’s an opportunity to check in, and chart our progress towards our personal and organizational objectives and key results. As always, our goal is to find a way to work just a bit better next quarter than this one!

That’s it for now! Luke is going on vacation, and so are the weeknotes until he gets back. He’ll return mid-October with a complete update on all the awesome things going on at Code for Canada!