Weeknote: 15 to 19 July 2019

Becca, Leigh and Sarah ready to demo accessibility kit to members of the NHS Digital board

1. What inspired me this week?

  • NHS.UK team members demonstrating some of the kit going into our new accessibility lab to the NHS Digital board. Board members tried on visual impairment simulation glasses and gloves for mobility impairment, and we had some great conversations about how to improve the experience of our digital services for disabled people. Great work by Leigh, Sarah, and Becca preparing and running the demo.
  • The NHS digital service manual team’s second public show and tell – a brilliant model of how to work in the open, not just as one organisation but as a community across the health and care system. There were great presentations by Alison from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Helen and Scott from the NHS Business Services Authority. If you missed it, you can catch up with the recording of the show and tell on Youtube.
  • A visit to Durham University with our CEO, Sarah, and other NHS Digital colleagues. We shared some of our work at NHS Digital, heard about fascinating research in departments including computer science, physics, and psychology, and we discussed opportunities to work in partnership with the university. A highlight of the day was a poweful visual presentation by Molly, a recent Durham graduate who is now on our NHS Digital grad scheme.
  • I wasn’t at the Digital Health Summer Schools, but saw lots of inspiring tweets from people who were. In particular, it was great to see the launch of the Shuri Network for BAME women in health tech and digital health.

2. What do I need to take care of?

  • The service manual team are proving how important and productive it is to work in the open. But it’s not an easy thing to do, and can be scary at times. As leaders we need to hold the space for people to work in the open. That’s why it meant a lot that our product development directors, Wendy and Ian, both took the time to support the show and tell, and to tweet about it themselves.
  • I’m involved in several overlapping discussions about skills, development, attraction, and retention of digital specialists for the NHS. It’s a knotty topic with multiple frameworks and possible interventions. We need to match the right ones to different situations within different organisations, while at the same time giving people clarity and consistency throughout their careers.
  • I went on some training myself, as a line manager and profession lead, ahead of the next wave of our NHS Digital reorganisation. Leading with care means all our people having the right support from well-trained line managers, and knowing who else they can turn to for support in a time of organisational change.
  • The numbers! I spent a lot of time looking at lists and spreadsheets this week.
  • Not letting the numbers take over my life! I was glad of the visit to Durham for the chance to look up and outwards for a day.

3. What connections did I make?

  • Several on the Durham visit. In particular, I’ll be talking to our user researchers about opportunities with the psychology department.

4. What leadership teamwork did I see?

  • Seeing Sarah commit the time to visit Durham, along with several other people more senior than me, was a powerful signal of her intent to make us a true learning organisation.
  • I spent some time with the director of another NHS Digital business area, talking over ways of working and how we might get some true agile teamwork going across directorate boundaries.
  • Throughout the week, HR and profession leads have been working together on organisation change in a careful, collaborative way.

5. How did I make expectations clear?

  • I presented on user-centred design at the Primary Care Technology team event. Nic, who leads that area, picked up on my “2 hours every 6 weeks of user research observation” slide. Afterwards I realised that this would have been a great opportunity to try out this weird trick from Terence: Tell the audience what you want them to do.

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

  • At Durham, talking about our graduate scheme, I highlighted how important it is (at least as important as their academic prowess) for the graduates we hire to align to the values of the NHS. In my experience the ones who succeed combine technical capability with a commitment to collaboration, care and compassion.

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