Weeknote: 18 to 24 May 2020

Sunny day, outdoor table, glass of water, Macbook Air, iphone

What leadership teamwork did I see?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve got more involved in the creation of a large and complex new NHS-branded service. I’m encouraged by its leaders’ focus on getting the user experience right, and on the importance of earning and keeping people’s trust. It has also given me a chance to work with a user-centred design dream team including Helen, Rochelle, Nancy, Sophie, and Misaki. Ian and Polly are holding the space for us to do good work, and Alison’s excellent delivery managership helps to keep us on track and moving forward.

What connections did I make?

Loads! Working with rapidly forming teams means that almost every day my colleagues and I are meeting new people, from a wide range of government and supplier organisations. There’s not much time to set out ground rules or agree ways of working. The only way I know in these circumstances is to assume good intent and competence, while being really clear about what we need to achieve together for our users.

How did I uphold the NHS Constitution?

There are some basic expectations that we set for anyone working on digital services for the NHS. Misaki made a brilliant list of things that user-centred design professionals need to know when starting at NHS Digital. I’ve shared this across other organisations we’re working with, in case it’s useful for their new starters too.

What else inspired me this week?

Meeting (virtually) with a group of people who care deeply about developing digital, data, and technology capability across health and care in a digital readiness workshop. Amid all the focus on the current situation and the next few months, it’s still important to be thinking about the capabilities the NHS will need in the future, and how we keep on growing and attracting that talent.

What do I need to take care of?

  • The most shared GIF in my colleagues’ weeknotes recently has been the clip from ‘The Wrong Trousers’ where Gromit is laying new tracks just inches ahead of a model train he’s riding on. We have to find ways to get ahead of that, so we can create the thoughfully-designed services that citzens and staff deserve.
  • I’m proud of the communities of designers and user researchers working across health and care. As changes happen across the sector, how do we keep those communities strong, and help to be the connective tissue that the system needs?
  • The coming weeks will demand that leaders in all these organisations be clear about their individual roles and responsibilities, but also act collectively as public entrepreneurs, creating new structures and initiatives to serve the next phase.
  • Meanwhile, our existing organisational life goes on. There are budgets to manage, objectives to set, performance and development conversations to hold. They deserve my undivided attention, and I need to check myself if I get distracted from them.

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