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How we work

The Office of Digital Innovation (ODI) uses focused project teams to solve big problems. We use best practices in human-centered design and technology to improve services for everyone.

Start with problems, not solutions

We are changing the way government traditionally works.

State departments tackle complex problems that don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. While technology can improve many things, we do not assume it can do everything.

Instead, ODI breaks problems down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. This lets us be agile and take a continuous and iterative approach to improvement.

This also allows us to hear the voices of Californians. We prototype and test with real people before committing to a solution that costs millions of dollars. This approach:

  • Reduces risk for taxpayers
  • Increases the likelihood of user acceptance
  • Lets us hear what does and does not work
  • Leads to solutions that can change as the needs of Californians change

Experiment, learn, and iterate

We embrace experimentation in every aspect of our work. ODI explores how best practices in the private sector can improve state services. We’re not afraid to try something new if we think it can help people.

We continuously question and test our work. When we design a prototype, we use data to measure how well it works. This data becomes insights that guide our iterations, which begins the cycle again.

As a remote team, ODI’s geographic diversity helps us see problems from different angles. Our broad collective perspective gets us out of our individual bubbles.

Work in the open

Our engineers and designers make our code available publicly through GitHub. Sharing our work invites conversation with other teams and the public. (Sometimes people even volunteer to help!) Being open also helps build confidence and trust in state government as a whole.

We also believe it’s essential to tell the story of our work–the why, what, and how. When we share our journey, we hope to inspire other teams solving similar problems.

Create sustainable solutions

Building up others is part of who ODI is. We want our partners to be confident carrying projects forward on their own. We ensure departments have the capacity and skills to scale and continue iterating on services. This includes training them on best practices and how to continually innovate.

Some problems need help from outside state government. ODI also works with departments who want to buy tools and services. By bringing in ODI’s values into the procurement process, we put Californians first.

We’re also modeling how to build modern digital teams at the state. ODI is piloting new ways of hiring to help people join the public sector. We focus on the fields of:

  • Design
  • Engineering
  • User research
  • Data and analytics

Our values

We’re passionate about making a difference in the lives of Californians. These are the values that guide us in everything we do.

Put the needs of Californians first

The most important part of our job is to listen to Californians and understand what they need. When we do this, we make their experiences and concerns central to our service design process.

Empathy

Understanding Californians’ problems is not enough. Empathy helps us remember that what we do affects people’s lives. We never assume that we know what people need.

Equity

Innovation happens when you design for people on the margins. ODI looks for places to improve historically-underserved communities’ access to state services.

Culture of learning

Innovation is not something that happens once. It’s a cycle that always challenges us to do better. We experiment with new techniques and tools to find ways to better help Californians.

Measure with data

What we can measure, we can improve. We ground our work in data to guide our decisions and know if we’re making a difference.