2020 Impact Report
Things were surely turned topsy-turvey this year with all of our offerings needing to switch to online delivery and adjust to new timeframes. We’d like to take a moment to make mention of how incredibly hard everyone in our orbit has worked to make these programs feasible. Now, for some updates!
With COVID-19 impacting Australia from March and our new Head of Delivery more settled into their role, we were able to experiment a little with Fellowship delivery this year and test out some changes based on all the feedback we’d collected.
Obviously we had to shift everything to remote which can be hard, especially for new teams with limited time trying to forge a connection. That said, it also meant we were able to widen our search in terms of recruitment, hiring some great talent from regional areas.
We also decided that it was a good time to be more flexible with the Fellowship format. Instead of only 6 month engagements with 3-person teams, we tested out 2 person teams, 3 month stints, and placed an all-developer team inside an established delivery unit.
While we still think the classic format is most effective for delivery and capability building, it was amazing to see what these teams could achieve under different constraints.
We spend a lot of time as an organisation gathering feedback from everyone we work with and it’s sometimes overwhelming and hard to know what to start on implementing this, but COVID-19 somewhat forced our hand. While some of these changes may be small tweaks, they can have a significant impact to the people in our Fellowship program. For example, we know our Fellows want to be heard but can also struggle with competing priorities in their busy schedules.
Based on this feedback, we now ask our Fellowship teams to decide what is important to them and measure this through custom check-ins fortnightly via Slack – no need for another meeting in their very full days.
We’ve also heard from both government hosts and Fellows that it can take some time to get into a good flow together, and with remote working, there was fear that this would be further exacerbated. So we’ve rejigged our induction week format, including shorter bursts and self-led work to suit the online format, and some new more interactive activities to get our teams better acquainted, including with their government hosts.
These are just a couple of the changes we’ve made this year, many in response to the unique situation we were put in, but we think most them have been for the better and will likely stick around as we continue to fine tune our processes.
Tech for Non Tech
COVID-19 has taught us just how important it is to create a digitally fluent community of people who feel comfortable and confident with technology.
Cue our Tech For Non Tech workshop. As the name suggests, the workshop gives participants a better understanding of all things digital and technical by starting slow then building big, and creating a safe space to ask questions and learn about the digital world—can you think of a better time for it?
We realised we would need to switch to online delivery and we were lucky enough to be able to conduct a trial with the Victoria Department of Premier & Cabinet’s Innovation Network who provided some excellent feedback for our first run.
The Victorian Government’s Digital Innovation Festival also sponsored a series of three open Tech for Non Tech classes which we were able to put on this event for a fraction of its usual cost thanks to their generous sponsorship. People from not-for-profits and the private sector attended and it was fantastic to see how the workshop could be applied in settings outside government.
We were also able to expand our global reach this year thanks to funding from Code for All’s exchange program, allowing us to share our knowledge of Tech for Non Tech with fellow civic-tech organisation, Codeando México. They translated the material and content into Spanish and are planning to run Latin America’s first ever Tech for Non Tech workshop in early 2021. We’re so grateful to have partnered with such an enthusiastic and talented organisation who will lay the groundwork for Tech for Non Tech across the region.
Digital Maturity Indicator
This was a challenging year for the DMI. After successfully piloting the assessment with agencies in NSW in 2019 and publishing the initial findings, we had plans to roll it out as a cross-government survey that would capture data for annual benchmarking and generate further insights for us to share with the community.
We’ve been working closely with government partners on the pilot and next steps for the DMI, which has been fantastic for the quality and depth of the work. But when COVID-19 hit, there was a significant disruption to both day to day work and longer term planning for teams in government. All of a sudden there were more pressing concerns than getting an assessment and recommendations for future digital transformation.
While the operating environment made it tough to achieve our ambitions for the DMI this year, we did continue our work on a cross-government survey with NSW PSC, and began an assessment with South Australia’s Department of`Child Protection.
We standardised the qualitative and quantitative research components of the DMI, introduced new tools and platforms for research and analysis and collaborated with other civic tech organisations around the world to share what (and how) we’ve been learning from the DMI so far.
A big milestone for the DMI actually happened outside our virtual walls, with the team at Code for America releasing their Renewed Principles of Delivery-Driven Government – work that was informed by the outcomes and methodology of the DMI.
None of this would be possible without the brilliance (and patience!) of Lara Stephenson, who has been the Lead Researcher for the program throughout 2020.
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