Service Canada has an ambitious mandate. It’s responsible for processing requests for birth certificates, social insurance numbers, passports, records of employment and EI claims, and much, much more.

The task is made particularly challenging because it covers all Canadians — every age, demographic, region and service preference. Which means the folks at Service Canada need to be available where people are used to getting served (service centres, kiosks, the phone) and where people increasingly expect to be served (the Internet on desktops, tablets and smartphones). Each delivery channel has its unique advantages, opportunities and challenges.

I had the privilege of being part of an all-staff meeting of the Citizen Service Branch, today. I was brought in to talk about injecting the human TOUCH into digital communications and service delivery as part of an effort to implement Blueprint 2020. The format included a kick-off state-of-the-department address from ADM Peter Simeoni, my keynote, a World Café discussion, and a wrap-up from COO (to be concise with her title) Louise Levonian.

Here are my three takeaways from the day.

  1. Government departments want to get digital right. This is sometimes difficult where programs are faced with political and bureaucratic pressures, and public scrutiny.
  2. The staff know their work. They have innovative and creative ideas to make digital a success.
  3. Management is listening. They are committed to making forward-moving decisions that make things better for those who work at Service Canada and those who interact with them.

The conversations I had with staff during the World Café were invigorating. This is not the federal public service we all joked about during the eighties and nineties. This is a new era, perhaps benefiting from the availability of talent in post-Nortel, post-JDS Ottawa.

And while digital success will be a huge victory for Service Canada, it will be Canadians, you and me, who will benefit most when this team reaches its TOUCHing point. (Yes, I actually just typed that.)

A sincere thank you the the Citizen Service Branch for including me in their all-staff meeting. It was eye-opening to be part of your event.