Colorado Digital Service Embeds Equity into their Team Agreements and Design Exercises
The Colorado Digital Service (CDS) is a small, cross-functional team of technologists who work for the State of Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Information Technology in a two-year tour of service. CDS is helping to mature state agencies’ approach to delivering high-quality products and services to all Coloradans by focusing on people, process and technology. The CDS team is deployed dynamically to projects to bring modern software best practices into the public sector context. The goal is to more quickly and effectively deliver government programs to Coloradans.
Government services need to work for everyone. Our approach to providing them mirrors how we believe a team should collaborate with each other, government partners and external partners. We believe that technology alone cannot solve government problems, so our team works to simultaneously build up people and processes. We want to create psychologically safe, collaborative environments for diverse teams to engage in a psychologically safe collaboration so they can intentionally incorporate equity as they build products and services.
The CDS team created two documents meant to advance this perspective: Team Agreements and Equity Exercises. Both are living documents meant to change and update with each iteration of the team. We invite anyone to take the content and adapt it for their own purposes or to provide feedback through GitHub.
Creating Team Agreements
The introduction is adapted from Vox’s and our hope is that by publishing our team agreements other teams can adapt them for their own. The standards set forth are drawn from our collective experience in the public sector. To formulate these agreements, we reflected on things that were important to us as a team, such as acknowledging the historical context of government technologies and the relationships we want to develop with our partners. Crafting this team agreement provides an opportunity for our team to be accountable to each other and uphold these agreements.
Examples from our team agreements are:
- We confront problems, not people.
Our key focus is to improve the way digital government services are provided to all members of the Colorado community. In an effort to effectively achieve this mission, we choose to fight systems and challenge premises. More importantly, we do this so that others can feel the ability to do the same safely.
- We are not here to judge.
Governmental systems have been trying to support the collective care of the public for decades. In this, we recognize that there may be circumstances where previous implementations of a service were not ideal. It is not our place to place judgment on how a service came to be, instead our focus is on how to improve these services to the best of our ability.
Developing Equity Exercises
It is not only important to have alignment with each other as team members but to utilize our positions to effect change for the benefit of all Coloradans. Inspired by human-centered design activities, the CDS team curated exercises that team members and partners can use to consider equity in their decision-making processes.
An example exercise:
- Mapping the people who are impacted.
A team needs 30–45 min in order to run this play. Use this exercise at a pivotal moment in the decision-making process in order to create a shared understanding across the team of people who are impacted. The goal of this is to take stock of and regularly consider and/or engage with all of the people who are impacted.
This article was written by Ploy Buraparate and Grace Kretschmer Tran. Team Agreements and Equity Exercises were developed by Colorado Digital Service team members with feedback from the Governor’s Office of Information Technology’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Senior Manager, Sarah Hernandez.
Interested in following along with the work of the Colorado Digital Service? Submit an interest form to stay connected. You can also check out our work at our Colorado Digital Service website, GitHub, Linkedin, or Twitter.