The Client Centric Policy Playbook
The Client Centric Policy Playbook strengthens the ability to engage clients in the design of program and service policies.
Through extensive engagement with policy experts and employees on-the-ground, the Playbook has brought together innovative best practices, tools and resources for engaging clients.
This solution enhances client experience by giving clients an opportunity to be part of the policy generation process and by ensuring that programs and services are reflective of their needs.
As leaders in service excellence, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is adopting world-class service delivery models enabled by modern technologies that respond to our clients’ current and emerging needs. However, one of the largest problems for all governments is program and service experiences not meeting expectations because they are not designed and delivered using an outside-in approach.
To employ a client-centric outside-in approach, ESDC has developed and implemented an innovative Service Transformation Plan (STP) designed with clients at the centre of everything. Included in the STP is the Client Centric Policy solution which recognizes that clients deserve programs and services that provide the best experience for them, when and where they need it. In the short-term, the Client Centric Policy solution completed its work in two phases:
Phase 1 tested in-person approaches for engaging clients through a workshop held in June 2018. The objective was to collect information from Youth on how best to engage them on employment. From there, policy consultations were organized in August 2018 to gather more insights on the youth employment journey and to test approaches for receiving feedback from under-represented groups with unique needs, including Indigenous peoples, newcomers, people living in remote areas and people with disabilities. Community organizations were engaged to assist with recruitment and inform the best way of engaging with those groups.
During Phase 2, the team performed a scan of existing best practices for engaging clients in policy generation building on the learning's of Phase 1, both internally within our Department and with other federal departments and externally across other levels of government. The team consulted with departmental policy and engagement experts during one-on-one consultations and through a workshop in order to identify pain points and best practices to be included in a Playbook.
The first draft of the playbook was socialized with policy and engagement experts. Throughout Phase 1 and 2, staff was also engaged through WebEx sessions, blogs and articles, which generated online discussions on ideal approaches.
The second draft of the playbook was also informed by our staff members’ feedback from all across the Department. The Department of Women and Gender Equity also reviewed the draft Playbook using a Gender-Based Analysis+ lens and provided valuable feedback.
All insights were compiled to finalize the Client Centric Policy Playbook, which provides ESDC employees with innovative approaches, tips and best practices, resources and tools for engaging clients in policy development. The Playbook is an ever-growing, evergreen reference tool that will strengthen employees’ efforts across the Department to develop and refine policies in a client-centric manner. This will ultimately help the Department design and deliver programs and services that will consistently meet the needs and expectations of our clients.
Employees will also benefit from our strengthened ability to effectively plan and execute client engagement. The Playbook’s tips, tools, best practices and available resources will save employees time and effort. Providing key considerations and resources will result in a more-in depth knowledge of client groups or segments and will encourage users to consider gender-based approaches to assess how diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives differently.
By being engaged in the development of the playbook and being given the opportunity to contribute, employees have been taking a major part in developing this innovative solution and helping to achieve our Service vision and goals. Clients will benefit from an enhanced client experience through increased and more effective opportunities to participate in the policy generation process, resulting in programs and services that are more reflective of their needs.
In the future, we envision moving the Playbook to an open space such as the Government of Canada’s internal wiki – Gcpedia - where it can be shared and continue to evolve as a result of use and feedback from other departments, levels of government and academia. We also hope to continue to gather feedback and insights from clients as we continue to test approaches throughout the Department. Our vision is to use the Playbook as a catalyst for meaningful discussion, more collaboration and smart information exchange both within ESDC and beyond.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Playbook content was developed using a unique and extensive engagement approach. In addition to consulting with policy and engagement experts, the team reached out to all ESDC employees across the country, including those who deliver services directly to clients. Given the large size of the Department (over 25,000 employees), compilation of valuable insights from all parts of the organization is helping to bring greater awareness of unique client needs and existing resources and is creating opportunities for greater collaboration.
By engaging employees directly and leveraging their insightful knowledge, we started a movement that encourages them to take part in developing innovative solutions and helping the organisation to achieve its vision for service and goals.
The Playbook encourages gender-based approaches that will ensure our policies, programs and services benefit everyone in society.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The official iteration of the playbook is being finalized and shared with the entire organization so that it can be used by anyone wanting to apply innovative and client-centric approaches to engaging clients and not only for policy reasons. By virtue of the Playbook being a compilation of best practices and lessons learned, this will help inform the planning and implementation of engagement throughout the department and provide knowledge and examples that can be leveraged and enhanced for future iterations.
Collaborations & Partnerships
During Phase 1, youth and civil society organizations were involved to gain insights on engagement approaches. This contributed directly to the content of the playbook. During Phase 2, policy and other experts within ESDC and other federal departments were consulted for the content. All employees, including those who deliver services directly to the playbook were given an opportunity to review the Playbook and their valuable feedback informed our engagement with clients unique needs.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Clients will benefit through more effective opportunities to participate in policy generation and from policies that better reflect their needs. Officials will benefit from a strengthened ability to plan and execute client engagement thanks to knowledge and innovative best practices from experts on-the-ground. In early stages of promotion, the Playbook has begun to generate considerable interest as potential resource for other government and civil society organizations within Canada and abroad.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Multiple teams are working towards a single goal of designing better services and interactions with client to integrate their feedback into the processes.
We firmly believe that better awareness of the client experience as well as sharing knowledge and best practices among ourselves will bring down organisational siloes and help bring together different perspectives.
We noticed quite a lot of interest from stakeholders on including more innovative and accessible approaches such as crowdsourcing to support agile policy development. We know that our Playbook is part of a much broader organization culture change as people are suggesting similar approaches to tackle more challenges and it is truly inspiring for the future of service.
This is the first iteration of the Playbook and we expect to incorporate new learning's in future iterations as we continue to design and test approaches with clients and gather best practices internally and externally.
Challenges and Failures
It was challenging to try and compile a large volume of information in a concise, easy to follow Playbook that was both useful and appealing to a wide range of policy officials, but it allowed us to reach the full potential of this project.
We took pride in being able to balance broad engagement with tight timelines and limited resources. We prioritized active engagement with departmental officials in light of other competing priorities and busy schedules to ensure we made the best of their time.
While innovation teams seem to have different frameworks and tools, one capability that differentiated success was the ability to experiment, stop, reflect and then modify the course of action based on lessons learned.
Challenges were overcome by taking a client-centric approach to development and implementing creative outside the box thinking to resolve issues.
Conditions for Success
Leadership is key when it comes to innovation especially in the context of a complex organization as Employment and Social Development Canada.
High-level of engagement with end users to understand their pain points and to ensure that they are part of the solution design and validation was key in the development of this playbook.
Innovation is also a lot of work and continuous efforts. This innovative process was supported by a highly motivated and creative team with varied experience, training and skills to ensure broad thinking to get insights from many perspectives.
While the Playbook is in the early stages of implementation, we received quite a lot of interest from stakeholders. We know that our Playbook is part of a much broader organization culture change as people are suggesting similar approaches to tackle more challenges and it is truly inspiring for the future of service.
We expect that through active promotion, the innovative approaches, tools and best practices will be leveraged throughout the Department and shared externally to other levels of government and civil society organizations. We also expect that this Playbook will generate further discussion and collaboration which will result in additional content for future iterations.
We realized that large organizations such as Employment and Social Development Canada has far more knowledge and expertise than one realizes because we operate in silos. It is imperative to find strategic opportunities to explore what others are doing. Employees have many insights to share and are sometimes overlooked.
Although continuous efforts are made to work more horizontally, it is challenging to share knowledge on a daily basis. Our Playbook exercise acted as a catalyst to promote broad engagement and exchange at all levels of the hierarchy and results on valuable insights gained in a timely manner.