Weeknote: 1 to 5 July 2019

Words on pavement – STOP with arrow pointing one way, LOOK with arrow pointing the other way

1. What inspired me this week?

  • A post by Zoe, one of our graduate trainees: 6 things I learned in 6 months as a user researcher.
  • The NHSx launch, and in particular the news that Hadley is joining the new organisation as acting CTO.
  • Reading recommendations from practice leads on requests from people across the organisation to join Digital Services Delivery, the profession group which it’s my privilege to lead. An opportunity to change profession closed last week, and there were more requests to join our profession than any other.
  • Calls with Trilly and Nicola about things they want to do to improve communications and address problems identified by people in our communities of practice. They’re both full of ideas and enthusiasm to make things better and I will back them 100%.
  • A presentation by Sean, NHS.UK head of tech, on new ways of working across our citizen-facing services. I love the way Sean has put team autonomy and continuous learning at the centre of his plan for engineering.
  • Reaching a milestone with the publication of a notice to officially withdraw the out-of-date NHS Common User Interface standard (see my official NHS Digital blog post for background). As a couple of people noted on Twitter, transformation is as much about gracefully retiring the old things as it is introducing the new.

2. What do I need to take care of?

  • The Common User Interface is no longer fit for purpose, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There are people who worked hard a decade or more ago to achieve some consistency in health and care systems, and I want them to know that we share the same intent. In moving on, we will take care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • I also want to support today’s health and care designers to work collaboratively in the open on new design patterns for health and care systems. It takes courage to share work in progress and open it up to scrutiny. In return, I hope people who have deep expertise and strong opinions will give their feedback constructively.
  • This quite specialist change around design standards and guidance will be interpreted in the context of the wider organisational and cultural changes happening in health and care technology this week. I hope it will be seen as a small example of the organisations involved collaborating to realise our shared vision for the future.

3. What connections did I make?

Inside my organisation:

  • I had coffee with Phil, the programme director on the NHS e-Referrals service.
  • I had an introductory meeting with a staff representative from our Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC). I really appreciate their input to the formal proposal for change that I’m writing as part of NHS Digital’s wider organisation change process.

Outside my organisation:

  • I connected a colleague from HEE with a potential keynote speaker for an event she’s planning later in the year.
  • I connected one of our user-centred design leads with a PhD student who was looking for someone to join her project advisory group.

4. How did I make expectations clear?

  • On the profession change process, with a large number of requests to assess in a short timeframe, I prioritised the requests that needed to be assessed most urgently, and discussed with the practice leads what I needed to see in order to approve a request. Because of the approach each practice lead adopted, I can say I’m confident in the skills of all the people who will be joining our profession.

5. What leadership teamwork did I see?

  • Of the five roles in our profession, the delivery managers had the lion’s share of requests to consider. I was really impressed by the way the practice leads Mohammed and Stuart approached this, working with their colleagues to organise conversations with everyone requesting a profession move. (The other practices had fewer requests, but also handled them all with thought and care.)

6. How did I uphold our design principles / NHS Constutition?

  • Some team members had the courage to call out a lack of diversity in one of the decision-making forums I’m involved with. They were right, and it was something I had noticed too. On reflection, I’m in a position where I could and should have raised this sooner myself. Now they have done so, I will work with others to redress the imbalance.

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