A focus on culture and transformation at FWD50 2019

Published On Oct 25, 2019

One of the most striking and consistent pieces of feedback from our 2019 content survey was this: We’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.


Many people tasked with IT transformation are already true believers. They want to know how to manage digital innovation, and what to avoid to maximize success. And while technology training is useful, digital transformation is more than tools — it’s people. Culture, not tech, is the real challenge.

That’s why we’ve adjusted FWD50 to this new reality, and packed the lineup with content on culture and transformation. For starters, our breakout tracks this year are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced content, so you can self-select the level of expertise you’ll find most useful.

Super Helpful   Focus on Culture and Transformation Blog Post

Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash


But beyond structural changes, there’s lots to learn:


Tuesday, November 5

This is our workshop day, open to anyone with a Conference + Workshop pass. It’s a chance to spend several hours on culture and transformation — or sample some of the 30-minute Fastforward talks.

  • We kick off our Tuesday Workshop day with a 3-hour session on writing effective policies, taught by renowned policy expert Lewis S. Eisen.
  • There’s also a Tuesday morning workshop on moving to mobile deployments, offering useful frameworks you can put to work immediately.
  • Jamie Boyd kicks off Tuesday’s Fastforward track with a talk on digital change, inclusion, and measuring impact, based on her work in British Columbia.
  • Folks from the Canadian Energy Regulator share how they changed culture to be more data-centric without destroying the organization in the process.


Wednesday, November 6

We start the first day of the general conference with keynote talks on the art of the possible, the technology trust crisis, prototyping future democracy, and even the use of Science Fiction to envision possible futures. Then it’s time for breakouts:

  • The City of Ottawa will be talking about its innovation blueprint and how the municipality is bringing new services to bear for citizens.
  • The team from AdaptiveOrg — a returning favorite for FWD50 — is running a workshop on agility that incorporates gameplay and learning.
  • Industry innovation talks from Bell and the Bank of Canada, as well as a panel of case studies from around the world chaired by David Eaves, go behind the scenes of digital transformation.


Thursday, November 7

The final day of FWD50 is also full of content on culture and transformation.

  • We kick off with Afua Bruce urging us to do good work that lasts by focusing not only on technology, but also the people and processes that make real change happen. She’s also running a breakout session for a chance to dig deeper with attendees.
  • In a first for FWD50, we’re running a Chain Reaction Panel — a series of short one-on-one conversations — between three extraordinary leaders: Accenture’s Claudia Thompson, Shared Services Canada’s Sarah Paquet, and Microsoft’s Lisa Carroll. They’re looking at what it means to lead in the new digital era.
  • Serial entrepreneur Margaret Dawson, who’s led product and marketing for a number of major tech firms, continues this theme by arguing that the killer app in digital transformation is human connection.
  • We’ll also hear from Catherine Desgagnés‑Belzil, Quebec’s Chief Digital Officer, about what that province is doing to achieve its ambitious transformation agenda.
  • Austria’s Rainhard Fuchs talks about maintaining a culture of delivery and execution even in periods of significant political upheaval.
  • The team from the Ontario Digital Service shares what they’ve learned building teams and products.
  • Another can’t miss breakout features three of Canada’s star digital executives — Transport Canada CDO Julie Leese, PSPC CIO Elizabeth Rhodenizer; and PSPC Digital Services branch CIO Tammy Labelle. It’ll look at digital disruption and fundamentals of change.
  • Transformation needs inspiration, which Apolitical has been building with the Federal government’s toolset. Janice Cudlip of the Federal Public Service joins Apolitical product chief Ella Mae Lewis for a look at how to drive curiosity as a mindset.


We have some other talks we’ll be announcing in the coming days, but what’s clear is that transformation takes more than tech — and we’ve filled the workshops, breakouts, and keynote talks with inspiration and practical lessons on digital transformation.