Some 38,000-foot Reflections on Think Digital’s First Year
February 24, 2023
By Ryan Androsoff, CEO & Founder, Think Digital
I’m writing this blog post as I fly back to Ottawa after having spent a week in Dubai as a guest at the World Government Summit where I participated in a panel about the Metaverse and hosted a fireside chat about the future of government digital services. I’ve always found travel to be a great opportunity for reflection, and there is indeed much to reflect on over the first full year of operations at Think Digital.
We publicly launched Think Digital in November of 2021 and this past year has proven to be one of growth for the team. The work that we undertake generally falls into the categories of Advisory, Training, and Engagement. Here are some highlights from each of these areas:
Over the past year we engaged on advisory projects with seven organizations in the Government of Canada. These included:
- A study on the evolving role of Chief Data Officers in the Government of Canada (in partnership with the Institute on Governance)
- Conducting a multi-disciplinary review of program-level data systems using a design-thinking lens
- Providing advice on the Future of Work including developing guidance for executives and employees on hybrid return-to-office plans
- Creating a Data Health Index methodology for assessing the “health” of data holdings across multiple dimensions
- Developing an organization-wide digital literacy action plan
We also had an opportunity this past year to do some international work through participation in an organizational and processes review of the Government of Montserrat that was led by the Institute on Governance. Think Digital led the digital government portion of the review including some capacity building work while visiting Montserrat in November.
Closer to home, we have been working with a municipal government to develop and pilot a digital maturity assessment methodology. This has been a particularly interesting area of work for the team and something that we are hoping that we can scale up to other organizations later this year.
- The Digital Executive Leadership Program that we run in partnership with the Institute on Governance continues to be going strong and is always a highlight in our team’s calendar, with the 13th cohort of the program completed this past Fall. First launched just over four years ago, we have had almost 200 executives participate in this innovative learning program from 34 federal government departments, as well as provincial and municipal governments across Canada. Registration is now open for our 2023 cohorts that start this spring which will build on our new hybrid format that mixes online learning (including immersive Virtual Reality) with in-person workshops.
- We run webinar-style programs on a variety of topics, including custom courses on topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Design Thinking, or the Metaverse, as well as a regular half-day Digital Leadership webinar that is hosted by IOG.
- Last year we ran a pilot for a government team on using Virtual Reality for collaboration and team building in a distributed work scenario with members of a management team scattered across Canada.
- We also facilitated a hackathon-style workshop for a federal department that wanted to generate ideas for, and prototype, new solutions to better serve their clients by bringing together a wide-range of internal and external stakeholders for some hands-on co-creation.
- Think Digital was proud to be a collaboration partner for the FWD50 conference in Ottawa this past November. This event is always a highlight of the digital government community’s calendar in Canada, and we had the opportunity to run a well-received workshop that identified digital government blockers. You can read about some of the themes that emerged from the workshop in our follow-up blog post.
- We also ran two webinars as part of the FWD50 Extras program, one discussing the insights from our Chief Data Officer study, and the other focused on the Metaverse.
- Think Digital was a sponsor of a few digital government events this past year, including ones run by the Public Sector Network as well as the annual Professional Development week run by DPI. We are going to again be sponsoring the 60th anniversary edition of DPI’s Professional Development Week happening May 10-12, 2023 (look for us at the photo booth!) where we will also be running a seminar about the Metaverse.
- The team published a number of thought pieces throughout the year via our Think Digital blog, including on Accessibility, Policy Making in a Digital World, and our Pac-Man Model for Digital Transformation.
- I had the opportunity to provide some perspective on our work via media interviews, including with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Future Tense and CBC Ottawa Radio and CBC.ca Online.
- The team is also very excited to have recently launched our new podcast called Let’s Think Digital! The first three episodes are available now at: https://letsthinkdigital.ca or on your favourite podcast platform. We are also publishing video versions of most podcast episodes on our YouTube channel.
Finally, I’ve been really excited to see how our team has grown and come together over the past year. We have a wonderful, multi-disciplinary team of Associates and have also been building up the team’s capacity by welcoming a handful of students and policy researchers into the Think Digital family. We are a fully remote and distributed team with people based across Canada and beyond. In addition to our regular online connections (including at our Think Digital Metaverse office!), we enjoyed having a few opportunities this year to gather in person, including at what we hope to be our first-annual Think Digital summer social.
I’m very proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish as we’ve brought this team together and begun to scale-up our work and impact. There is a clear need for the type of perspective that we are bringing to governments that are trying to modernize to be successful in the digital age. It’s something that the whole team is passionate about, and I’m thankful every day to have such an amazing group of people to collaborate with on this important mission.