Weeknote: 16 to 22 March 2020

Sticky notes, laptop, headphones, newspaper with Coronavirus advert, laptop open with old NHS leaflet as screensaver

What inspired me this week?

So much to choose from, but these tweets from James sum it up…

  • Our user researchers moving rapidly away from face-to-face research without remotely compromising on the importance of involving users. This has been a real community effort, with lots of hints, tips and tools being shared under the expert leadership of Rochelle and Nancy.
  • Graphic and interaction design work scaling out at pace using the NHS.UK Frontend. It’s a tribute to the robustness of the design and ease of use of the prototype and production code that this has become the framework of choice for teams tasked with rapidly creating new Covid-19 services.
  • Very frequent and coordinated content updates to NHS.UK and GOV.UK to keep pace with rapidly changing advice and information. Clear content design will undoubtedly save lives.
  • Service design to untangle the complexity that’s an ever-present risk when multiple teams are working at this incredible pace. We have to collaborate on cross-service journey mapping so we can understand how the newly emerging content and services might fit together for citizens.

How did I uphold the NHS Constitution?

When working on some mapping myself, I copied our NHS digital design principles onto the virtual board as a reminder. Two of the principles in particular (both inspired by the NHS Constitution) helped me to structure the map.

  • “Design with the outcome in mind” prompted me to call out our objectives at the far right of the map: protect the vulnerable, help people stay well and get better, and reduce the burden on the NHS.
  • “Be inclusive” prompted me to make a swimlane on the map for equality impacts. The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all.

What leadership teamwork did I see?

  • Government and NHS heads of design working together on a call to make sure we coordinate our emerging service designs. Helen from NHS Business Services Authority is well placed to take the lead on this, having worked across a range of health and care national bodies already.
  • Away from the immediate crisis, I had a call with James from Health Education England, who told me how his team has evolved to work across a range of transformation programmes and services.
  • Rachel, one of my Bevan Programme learning set, generously gave me half an hour to help me better understand how the integrated care system (ICS) is shaping up in her area, and how ICS’s might play a role in digital transformation of health and care more generally.

What do I need to take care of?

  • Our business planning process for the new financial year is still going on, I need to make sure everything’s in good shape for our small central user-centred design team.
  • Keeping up our product development strategy commitment to being open and agile is even more important now we’re not all in the same buildings. I was really impressed by how the teams took to a wholly remote “Three Teams Show and Tell” on Wednesday. Hope we can keep that going as the weeks wear on.
  • Working from home is OK for me, but I really feel for colleagues with younger children, having to juggle the needs of their families with their desire to do their best work at this important time. Many of my NHS Digital colleagues really do meet the government’s definition of “key worker” at this time.
  • As Mike pointed out, there’s a danger of becoming too reliant on heroic effort among our people. We owe it to them all to learn from the results of their brilliant work now, so what’s heroic in this exceptional time becomes sustainably embedded in the future.

How many times did I cycle to work?

  • 0 out of a possible 1 day, before home working became the default. Planning to set my bike up on my son’s turbo trainer next week.

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