Extraordinary Generosity and the Value of Connection: the BC Digital Academy is Ready to Show Up

Widespread digital transformation is on the horizon for the BCPS, and it’s what we hear from our people that needs to inform how we architect the ecosystem

WHO WE ARE

The BC Digital Academy (the DA) is a relatively new program area within the BC Public Service (BCPS) tasked with enabling an enterprise-wide approach to learning and capacity building. We’re situated within the BC Exchange Lab as another support for teams undergoing rapid digital change.

WHAT WE DO

The BC Digital Academy supports public servants in developing the digital and data skills required for a modern BC Public Service. This includes access to digital resources, facilitating learning for digital methodologies and tools, and integration of the BC Digital Principles.

That’s the byline, but the broader truth is that, just like everything else, our work is about people. It’s the people we work with, the teams we support, and the tiniest ways we show up that really effect positive change. We’re part of a larger ecosystem that constantly feeds back into itself, and just making what you have available to others can be enough. It’s the concept of extraordinary generosity discussed by the brilliant Suzanne Simard in “Finding the Mother Tree” (which everyone should read).

For us, showing up can look like:

  • supporting systems-wide change in how we approach digital talent, retention, and skill-building within the BCPS
  • promoting events, learning opportunities, and communities of practice
  • facilitating courses with IM/IT and digital subject matter experts
  • collecting the stories of digital transformation from across government and sharing them widely so that we’re creating opportunities for self-reflection and adaptation as we move forward
  • facing down barriers and pain points that slow down service modernization in the BC Public Service (such as leadership’s adoption and understanding of digital practices)
  • developing partnerships and sensemaking around the collected knowledge already stored in our community

WHY WE’RE NEEDED

Digital isn’t just a fringe movement found in Silicon Valley start-ups anymore, but we already knew that. What we’re struggling with is how to operationalize at such a grand scale; the BCPS has over 35,000 employees, and a large majority of those staff are working with legacy applications in unsupported program areas . Lone wolf digital teams can’t support entire ministries, and it’s past time to begin building a digital and data-enabled workforce in every program area, regardless of whether they work in a technology sector.

WHAT ARE WE UP TO

We’re making in-roads! Connecting and convening as many great minds as we possibly can.

You might have seen our session on Trust in the BC Public Service at this year’s BCPS Learn @ Work Week and the accompanying SenseMaker® engagement that saw over 279 responses from employees. You can view the dashboard results of that engagement here (make sure to set your date range to “all data” to view all the responses). We’ll be delving into this data at a later date, but we were thrilled to see so many gov employees taking the time to consider what creating the enabling conditions for experimentation and the ability to fail might actually look like.

A word cloud created from stories on trust submitted by BCPS employees.

Earlier this year, we held a pilot Introduction to Digital Leadership session with Assistant Deputy Ministers from across many ministries and saw quick, enthusiastic uptake at both the session and of any resources executives could get their hands on. Executive adoption and support of digital is a major barrier to successful transformation across the public service, and we’re eager to continue developing our executive programming over the next year.

There’s been a ton of work to collect and collate digital stories from across BC gov into a central repository, and we’re excited to share the first iteration of that library with you in 2022.

Lastly, we’ve assumed facilitation of many of the digital courses you know and love, like Agile Fundamentals, UX 101, OpenShift 101, Introduction to Digital Leadership, and Certified ScrumMaster/Product Owner training from Alluvial.

We’re currently headed into a break going into the holidays, but you can always find available course offerings from the DA at digital.gov.bc.ca/learning

WHAT’S NEXT

You tell us! We’ve heard from dozens of teams about their pain points and needs, but email us at DigitalAcademy@gov.bc.ca whenever you have more to add.

Derek Masselink is the Director of the Digital Academy and has previously worked with the BC Public Service Agency, supporting the development of culture and innovation across government.

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