What happened these last weeks?

Since my last weeknote a lot happened - but I have not enough time to cover it in the normal detail. So this list is not exhaustive…

  • Service development: together with the interdepartmental working group, key stakeholders, and informed by our users we identified the next two iteration areas we will further explore: how additional reporting might help the NKR with its check while not increasing the effort for the policy personnel & how visualization might create value for both user groups and lead to more digital-ready legislation.
  • Evaluation: worked on the questionnaire of a first selective round of measuring how good policy personnel can work with our first version of the digitalcheck.
  • Service delivery: Over 50 digitalchecks were carried out in the first three months of this year. We know that all of these regulations are will not be really digital-ready (as they most likely won’t have considered the digital age in the early phase of drafting)
  • Communicating our iterative working service development approach: Sarah came up with quite a nice illustration - the goal to communicate and tie together how we prioritize and connect discovery and delivery. By accident, it looked a bit like a MickyMaus (note to myself, I need to think if visualization would help this blog, maybe there will be a DigitalService blog post about it soon).
  • Team: Sarah prepped and ran a roles and responsibilities workshop with all of us attending. Looking forward to see what effects that will have on our work.
  • Support: Still a steady but not too overwhelming stream of requests, slowly we are shifting towards digitalization related questions away from the process focused ones.
  • Media Coverage: After a story written and spread by the dpa we got quite a lot of traction on the topic of digital-ready policy. Over 22 media outlets ran a slightly adapted version of the original piece, e.g. one of German’s main TV channels: https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/politik/digitalcheck-gesetze-buerokratie-regierung-100.html (🇩🇪). This in turn led to an article in the Tagespiegel Background, the “lead” medium in the German government digitalization space: https://background.tagesspiegel.de/digitalisierung/digitalcheck-so-lief-die-testphase(🇩🇪💶) both focused rather heavily on the process side. Which leads me to the main topic of this weeknote:

Focus: The riddle of process vs. content

Reflecting about the increasing media coverage and several stakeholder exchanges, I was surprised that we mostly talk about the process connected to drafting digital-ready regulation. Two examples:

  1. Media coverage so far follows the following and quite well known approach: situation, complication, solution (https://jeffgothelf.com/blog/3-steps-to-telling-a-compelling-story/):

Situation: Germany is lacking a digital government.

Complication: Laws are not digital-ready.

Solution: The digitalcheck as a process of analyzing regulation on digital-readiness.

  1. Stakeholders and policy personnel are more concerned with the bureaucratic part of the digitalcheck. Numerically, most support questions are about the three-step process that makes up the digitalcheck.

I somehow get it, people tend to focus more on the process level than the content level because:

  • processes are on a higher abstraction level, they generalize better and resonate wider,
  • processes often stay similar over a longer period of time,
  • processes are easy to visualize and by that more tangible,
  • processes are more accessible by being more obvious,
  • processes are more “human” as they often describe interactions.

This creates quite the riddle. Because while we need to change some policymaking processes to create digital-ready regulation, the digital-readiness is determined and shaped by the content of the regulation. This is why we came up with five principles for digital-ready legislation (🇩🇪) that should inspire and inform the content of regulations.

So how do we get people to shift focus, away from the process, towards the content? How do we make this - to be totally honest much harder work - intuitive, fun, and effortless for the policy personnel to actually create the impact that we want to achieve (creating digital-ready legislation: regulation that enables simple and effective implementation, taking full advantage of digital opportunities for the benefit of all stakeholders)? That’s a riddle we need to solve in the upcoming weeks. What would success look like? Stakeholders, media, and users talk about the output and the outcome, so about what makes a specific law digital-ready and not about the process that got us there.