Language selection


Sign in

Sign in

From Prototyping to Problem Solving

Episode 12

A Look Back On Our Practicum Pilot

Nine multidisciplinary teams worked together for three intensive weeks.  At the finish line, teams proposed a solution and developed a prototype designed to solve real business problems. Each group presented the fruits of their labour to a panel of senior executives using the Ignite method. In less than ten minutes, teams presented the following:

  1. problem to be solved, clearly stated;
  2. possible solutions contemplated;
  3. obstacles encountered; adjustments considered;
  4. chosen solution;
  5. approach;
  6. execution of the prototype.

*Team videos are displayed at the bottom of the page.


[Text on screen] Practicum 2019:Real People.Real Challenges.Real Solutions 

[Text on screen] Neil BouwerVice-President, Innovation and Policy Services BranchCanada School of Public Service[Narration]What we’re going to see here today is the future of the public service. It is a new way of doing things. And it’s a progressive, it’s an interesting, it’s a productive, it’s a fun way to solve problems.

[Text on screen] Louise Côté Practicum Product Owner, Digital AcademyCanada School of Public Service

[Narration] We really didn’t know what to expect with the practicum. For one main reason: it was the first time we were trying it. Practicum is a unique learning experience. A threeweek immersive environment where 59 learners from two programs will just gather in a common space and work on a real business problem. 

[Text on screen]  Health Canada EmployeesTeam #1Improving Reporting Processes for Licensed Cannabis Producers, Health Canada

[Narration] Health Canada towards the end of the reporting period they are flooded with emails with information inquiries so and they rush through the emails, they try to respond as fast as possible so that licensed producers can actually report on time.

[Text on screen] Allan Phillips Production Data Base AdministrationNatural Sciences and Engineering Research, Council of Canada

[Narration] Ours was cannabis. Basically, the gist of it is to keep Canadians safe and to keep illegal cannabis from getting into the legal system and vice versa. And we pitched a few concepts to the solution leader and then what we came up with was a chatbot, which is basically going to help the end users.

[Text on screen] What if?

[Narration] What if we can actually provide 24/7 reporting assistance to the licensed producer? We think there is a simple, cost effective and readily available solution to this. Please let me introduce the Cannabot[Text on screen]Hi, my name is Cannabot, the CTS Assistant. 

[Narration] So, what is the Cannabot? Well the Cannabot is simple. It’s just a web chatbot that we loaded with the Frequently Asked Questions from the CGS user guide.

[Text on screen] Workflow Frequently Unanswered Asked QuestionsNew Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked Questions AnsweredLicensed Producers

[Narration] What was really key to the success of the Practicum was the learners themselves. We hoped it would happen. And it did happen. 

[Text on screen] ‘This is what public servants can do when we give them the skills, the right tools and eachother to work with’ @ToferC wrappin up #Practicum2019. Fantastic work by the learners and by everyone involved in the DigoAcademyCAN! Can’t wait to see what’s next.8:25 AM – 11 Jun 2019 from Ottawa , Ontario

[Narration] So what worked is the fact that we really took them out of their comfort zone. Because that’s where you learn. 

[Text on screen] Patrick HeardTechnical AdvisorPublic Services and Procurement Canada[Narration]The biggest piece for me was in the first week of the Practicum, like how to think about a problem, how to reframe a problem, how to take your solution so this is the expected solution, the best practice and then, you know, how could you innovate and how could you transform. 

[Text on screen] Exhausted but feeling inspired by the incredible people I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with during the @DigiAcademyCAN #Practicum2019. Main takeaways today: Empathy is your platform for success. Tap into the bright minds around you. Listen more. Be bold.

[Text on screen] Renée Isaac-SaperResearch and Data Analytics OfficerCanadian Heritage

[Narration] The schedule was very condensed, like very full that first week which was good in that we actually did like a ton of, like we did make a lot of progress. 

[Text on screen] Revised Problem Statement: This Problem Is About Data!!Unavailable (Provinces), Highly Aggregated (Stats Can) or Costly (Behind Pay Walls)Unreliable or Unverifiable Quality, Poorly Defined MetadataCostly and Time Consuming to Link and No Ability For “Real Time” Data Linkages

[Narration] The problem we realized is about data and it’s unavailable if it’s provincial data. It’s highly aggregated if you’re going to try to get it from stats can or it’s costly if you want to get it from Bloomberg because it’s behind firewalls. We wanted to be able to link data coming from all different types of departments. So did we build a solution? You bet we did. 

[Text on screen] Did We Build It?The PrototypeA one-stop information portal that contains open data produced and published by the federal government

[Narration] We were extremely surprised by the results. We did not expect most of the teams to produce a viable prototype by the end of three short weeks. This was beyond expectations. 

[Text on screen] Team #7Insight for GcCommsTBS and Canada Revenue Agency

[Narration] Throughout the project we have had great conversations with our stakeholders from the project leaders at the CRA and TBS, to the communication analysts at TBS. It was during one of these conversations that we heard the TBS was already using a cloud based data management and analysis platform. However, they had not yet explored their full functionality. ‘Insights for GcComms’ is a comprehensive dashboard, which includes and brings together analytics data from Twitter, Facebook, media analysis, as well as web analytics from Now this presentation just has screenshots in it. However, this product is actually live.  

[Text on screen] Kris WrightInformation Management PolicyFinancial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada

[Narration] Our solution leader came around and said ‘Hey we’ve got good news. Everybody at the office really loves the link. They’re in love with the solution. You guys did such a great job and it’s in the minister’s office right now and they’re talking about it’ and you know, it was one of those kind of ‘Oh my God’ moments where, this is something that, you know, we thought after three weeks we might have something on paper and maybe a medium for a prototype. But by designing what the users and understanding where they worked we were actually able to put together a fully functioning system, within three weeks and, you know, it’s yielding great results and we’re already seeing that with the users. 

[Narration] When we finished Practicum, after the pitches, the main feeling that really was in the room was a sense of pride and accomplishment. Practicum really created momentum.

[Text on screen] We have learned so much over the past few months and have put a lot of sweat and tears into this. #LearningByDoing We are so excited to present our prototype at the #Practicum2019 showcase on Tuesday June 11 at Bayview Yards!9:41 AM – 7 Jun 2019 from Montreal, Quebec

[Text on screen] Chris Allison Director General, Digital ServicesCanada School of Public Service

[Narration] So really to me that’s what this is about. This is the art of the possible. This is what public servants can do when we give them the right tools, the right skills and the right environment, and each other to work with. So that to me is the magic of the Practicum.

[Narration] Because we want them to be our ambassadors once they get back, to show the new ways they have learnt.

Learning by doing, is one of the top priorities at the Digital Academy; providing hands on experience is how we want to convert practitioners into digital ambassadors and drivers of change. Mission accomplished! Many learners are returning to their organizations better equipped and ready to coach others on agile ways to work, based on problem solving.

It is not just the participants who applied the agile approach - so did we! We have been constantly listening to our learners and adapting the training to better meet their expectations and objectives as we go.

Speaking of problem solving, identifying the right business problem to work on was a key reason for the Practicum’s success.  The first week of Practicum was dedicated to this task and results from the participant’s evaluations indicated that this was the most enlightening part of the process!

In addition to the importance of identifying the right business problem,  Practicum uncovered another powerful learning moment for all who attended the  prototype presentations. All nine teams noted issues with the disorganized state of government data; more specifically, their ability to access, understand and leverage Government data holdings directly impacted on their ability to develop solutions to address the problems they identified.

Our next steps? We are walking our talk and adapting the second version of Practicum to include what we heard from our learners. The next group is slated for the fall of 2019 - keep your eyes on our Busrides page for updates!

Check out more videos on the Practicum Showcase

Showcase Introduction Neil Bouwer

Team #1 HC | Cannabot

Team #2 CFIA | FAQfinder

Team #3 ECCC | Cannabis Solution Enabler

Team #4 PHAC | Sketching Project

Team #5 Infrastructure Canada | Insights into Investments

Team #6 DND & PSPC | Measuring Training Impact in the Government

Team #7 TBS & CRA | Insights for GC Comms

Team #8 ISED | Business Information Portal

Team #9 NRCan | Data Avengers

Closing | Chris Allison, Digital Services

Busrides - Trajet en bus

Busrides - Trajet en bus

Our mission is to broaden and deepen digital literacy. / Notre mission est d'élargir et d'approfondir la culture numérique.

Recommended for you

Topic: Discover Series

Learning Path: Discover Cyber Security

Employ cyber security best practices to protect Government of Canada (GC) data, information, systems, and reputations.

a year ago3 min read

Topic: Discover Series

Learning Path: Discover Cloud

Get familiar with the opportunities, applications and limitations of cloud computing.

2 years ago2 min read

Topic: Discover Series

Learning Path: Discover Human-Centred Design

Get familiar with human-centered design principles and as a result, speak confidently to your colleagues about it and become curious to learn more.

2 years ago2 min read