Weeknote: 7 to 11 October 2019

Victorian London brick building with sign that says "Kirkaldy's Testing and Experimenting Works"
The Kirkaldy Testing Museum, just round the corner from the Digital Leaders meeting venue. Open on the first Sunday of every month. You should visit it.

1. What inspired me this week?

  • My former colleague Andy Callow published reflections on his first 6 months as Chief Digital Information Officer at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. I’m missing Andy’s wise reflections at NHS Digital, but it’s great to know he’s more-than-surviving at KGH.

2. How did I uphold the NHS Constutition?

  • After hearing from Matthew, we had a discussion about the Digital, Data and Technology (DDAT) profession in health and care. In my introduction to that, I drew parallels between the essential building blocks of our profession – user-centred design, agile multidisciplinary teamwork, a devops engineering culture – and the way that the NHS is described in the Constitution. The NHS at its best has always been human-centred, multidisciplinary, and with the most up-to-date technical skills. I gave as an example the NHS.UK Frontend. This open source, inclusive, collaboration across arms-length bodies would not exist without DDAT ways of working – and it’s perfectly aligned to the values of the NHS today.

3. What leadership teamwork did I see?

  • The digital leaders’ meetings are always valuable because we share so many common challenges across the national ALBs. We also had a great show and tell on the new NHS Jobs service from the NHS Business Services Authority.
  • Earlier the same day, I was at the Building a Digital Ready Workforce programme board, chaired by Patrick. He and James successfully shepherded the agenda for the Skype meeting, including groups joining from Leeds and London, and other participants dialling in. It’s quite a skill to chair a forum like that remotely, and emerge with decisions that are made both thoughtfully and collectively.
  • This week was my first time in my new role at Wendy’s Product Development directorate senior leadership team. I’m looking forward to being part of that team too.

4. What connections did I make?

  • Simon and I met with Suzanne, our new academy team contact for the user-centred design and product & delivery management graduate traineeships.
  • I had a call with Vishen, one of our senior clinical leads, about how we can work together across Product Development.
  • Tero and I talked with Iain at NHS X about service lists and maps. I’m excited to see this work move forward with input from service designers in both our organisations.
  • Isabel, who has consistently championed my team’s work and helped me navigate the way things get done in NHS Digital, is leaving to take up a new role at the National Lottery Heritage Fund. I Twitter-connected her to a few of the brilliant people I know working in that sector.

5. How did I make expectations clear?

  • I had meetings and calls to confirm our approach for providing design leadership to each of the product development sub-directorates. The aim is to have either me or one of the heads-of clearly identified as go-to person for all things design and user research-related for each pillar of the portfolio.
  • It became apparent that I had failed to make expectations clear on a couple of other important things. That’s frustrating but something I know I need to work on.

6. What do I need to take care of?

  • Next week, we’re going to be talking more about our plans for the small, central user-centred design team that we’re setting up in product development. Lots of other things are changing for people at the moment, so I hope we can communicate those plans in an insipring way, be honest about the uncertainty that still remains, and encourage people to contribute their ideas if they don’t see something they’re passionate about in the first draft of the plans.
  • There are still people in my teams involved in organisation change processes. We all need to be mindful that it can be stressful, not only for the individuals involved, but also for the people leading consultation, selection, and assessment processes.
  • I need to keep working with Nicola and Helen to move forward our work on patient and public engagement in our services.
  • Next week it will be 4 weeks since I was last in a user research lab. I have a note in my calendar to ask the user researchers if there are sessions coming up that I can observe.


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