Weeknote: 29 June to 3 July 2020

Left: marker pens and torn paper in a waste paper bin. Right: Unopened 5-pack of Sharpies on top of a keyboard and sketch

Back to weeknotes after a break while I wrote up my 3-year reflections.


  • Spent the morning and early afternoon in a brilliant remote unconference for Nye Bevan Programme graduates, organised by Mike Chitty, Hesham Abdalla, and Peter Watson. After the busyness of the past few months, it was a lovely change of gear to pause and listen to leaders from across the NHS and social care, all of whose experiences had been very different, yet shared some common themes. Topics included ‘How do we shift from talking about equalities and inclusion to actual action?’ and ‘Leadership lessons from Covid-19’.
  • Later, Rochelle, Tero, Becca and I presented to NHS Digital’s senior leadership community on the way our teams have worked to keep doing user-centred design through lockdown. It was great to be able to highlight how this profession have overcome challenges to keep doing user research, collaborating intensely in workshops, and rapidly launching and iterating new services. They’ve done this all while dealing with the pressures and challenges that this time has placed on everyone. I was especially pleased that Becca was able to be part of the presentation, as one of the graduate trainees who have all risen to this unique challenge.


  • It was moving day for my oldest son in his university accommodation, so I spent it driving across the M62, and making several short trips across south Manchester. A change is as good as a rest!


  • A couple of short planning sessions with the small team supporting cross-cutting service design for Test and Trace, and a longer one focused on tracing in the afternoon.
  • I joined a team meeting for a group of data engineers who are part of my profession group, and then a catch-up with user-centred design leads in our Product Development and Data Services directorates.


  • More Test and Trace work, including a retrospective with NHS Digital colleagues on the cross-cutting work.
  • A call with Charlotte, our brilliant team administrator, thinking through how I’m going to ensure I keep making progress on the objectives I’ve taken on for myself.


  • A bit more time to catch up on emails and things I’d promised to do earlier in the week.
  • A couple of calls connected with my profession role.
  • Tried to sketch how our user-centred design team’s operating model supports delivery through the lifecycle. Realised all my black Sharpie markers were worn out, and their scratchiness was making me irritable. Asked my son to buy a new pack, and accidentally sparked a lengthy Twitter thread of felt tip pen geekery.
  • Talked with Rochelle and Tero about our coverage of user-centred design leadership across Product Development. Our directorate’s work is shifting as we move through the Covid-19 emergency, which means we need to revisit how we provide design and user research oversight to everything we do.
  • And finally, a one-to-one with Tero, who has rightly been recognised for his exceptional contribution to NHS Digital’s work on Covid-19.

I really need a haircut.

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