A coffee date with Living Digital
It was a morning like no other. My dreaded iPhone alarm began blaring at 5:00 am and I jolted out of bed. Half asleep, but determined, I riffled through my closet for something to wear and ran out of the house. This wasn’t going to be an ordinary day at work. It was the day of my team’s first-ever event: A coffee date with Living Digital.
Laying the groundwork
“The goal for A coffee date with Living Digital, and Living Digital as a whole, is to encourage collaboration between departments to support the improvement of services internally and ultimately, to improve services externally for Canadians.”
The purpose behind A coffee date with Living Digital was to bring our online stories to life, with the help of the people behind the stories. With six rapid-fire presentations, the intention was to provide information on the most popular topics to the audience. With that in mind, it was also about bringing an authentic human aspect to the digital sphere. And lastly, the goal for A coffee date with Living Digital, and Living Digital as a whole, is to encourage collaboration between departments to support the improvement of services internally and ultimately, to improve services externally for Canadians.
A beginner’s guide to event planning
Once we had the “why” down, it was time to bring our idea to fruition. When my team and I first started planning the event, it seemed like an effortless idea. I mean, how difficult could it be? Pick a date, round up your speakers, get people interested et voilà! Boy, were we in for a treat. We had no idea how much would go into event planning. There were so many tiny, yet integral, details that went on behind the scenes. But that’s a story for another day.
It's show time
It was 8:30 am and public servants from across the Government of Canada (GC) began strolling through the doors of 90 Elgin Street. We had representation from over 35 departments, add that to the pressure of hosting a sold out event and you could say we were a tad nervous. Of course we were excited too! But mostly nervous. After months of planning, people were now filling up the event room and it was Living Digital’s time to shine.
What’s Canada’s brand
Our first set of speakers were Tracey Headley and Grant Johnson, to talk about the importance of Canada’s brand. In true Living Digital style, they drew an interesting comparison between two acclaimed brands. Showing us how one had changed their logo many times throughout the years, whereas the rival brand remained consistent. As Grant put it, “it might even look like the rival did nothing for 134 years, while the other was working relentlessly to update their brand”. But the rival brand was, in fact, doing something, they were creating a recognizable and strong brand. Who else was doing that? The GC. Canada has had its own unique brand since the 70s that has remained unchanged and clear-cut.
Nothing Without Us
We shared our event day with a very important day: International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We were fortunate to have Luna Bengio give us a powerful talk on the importance of accessibility. She reminded us that inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. While legislation, policies, and governments can set the right conditions, it is ultimately about what we can do, big or small, to contribute to an inclusive environment. She encourages you to be an ally by:
- Thinking about the person first, not the disability
- Asking questions
Next up, we heard from Peter Yoon about experimentation in the digital age. His team at Health Canada is working on Project Hummingbird: exploring the use of drones for outdoor cannabis field inspections. By using remote sensing technology, the drones conduct analysis on the health of a plant, ensuring it is safe for human consumption. He encouraged the crowd (aka public servants) to experiment with the possibilities of technology within their work and to leverage it when appropriate.
What does being agile in your work really look like?
Todd Scanlan spoke to one of the main aspects of being agile: consultation versus continuous feedback. This one sparked some discussion amongst the crowd, as people went back and forth on what it really means. The two words are sometimes used interchangeably and seem similar but the difference is that consultation has a beginning and an end, whereas feedback is on-going and inclusive. By using feedback, it allows for us to continuously improve in a way that works best for our strategic partners. It was neat in this way, to see Luna and Todd’s presentations come together as they both emphasized the importance of inclusion.
What good looks like – the GC Digital Standards in practice
Daphne Guerrero and Sarah Wicks touched on some of the Digital Standards in place in the GC. Focusing on designing with users, they shared an example from Immigration and the letters that they send to potential immigrants regarding their application process. The letters include a message that is empathetic to the person receiving it and easy for anyone to understand. They have even included an online rescheduling tool to make the process as accessible as possible for everyone.
To infinity and Beyond... 2020
The dynamic duo Charlie Tsao and Ryan Sigouin chatted with us about all things Beyond2020 and the Innovation Fair. They opened up about the process of hosting one of the GC’s biggest events and shared that the key is to remain calm, cool and collected. The men kept it real and honest by admitting that, for the most part, event planning was a go-with-the-flow type of thing. It was refreshing to see that it is possible to maintain such an authentic, unfiltered and genuine approach to doing work, even when it means hosting 10 000 people coast to coast at your event. And I thought hosting an event for 200 people was stressful.
As the final curtain came down
“One of things that made A coffee date with Living Digital so special was that attendees had a chance to learn about a wide variety of hot topics in a short amount of time.”
One of things that made A coffee date with Living Digital so special was that attendees had a chance to learn about a wide variety of hot topics in a short amount of time. The diversity in the presentations is what made this event unique and what people seemed to enjoy the most. We were able to hear stories from different departments on how they are improving their services and hopefully, that will spark conversation within other teams as well.
So as we wind down from our post-event high, my team and I are thankful for all those who attended our event and for our speakers who shared their knowledge. None of this would have been possible without you and we are excited to see that you love Living Digital just as much as we do. With that said, we have a few things up our sleeve for the future so stay tuned. And if you haven’t already done so, subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know of any upcoming events.
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