Weeknote: 2 to 6 November 2020

City centre office blocks with church spire and glazed dome shopping centre roof
View from my Monday morning desk at Trevelyan Square

What leadership teamwork did I see?

  • On Tusday, senior leaders from 3 NHS organisations came together to kick off an intensve period of work on a knotty service transformation problem. I felt the first workshop went well, with everyone agreeing how we wanted to work together.
  • On Thursday, team members reacted rapidly to turn things around when the second workshop didn’t go to plan. Lessons were learned and I hope the experience of failing fast will set us up well for 4 more sessions together over the next 2 weeks.

How did I uphold the NHS Constitution?

The NHS pledges to: provide a positive working environment for staff and to promote supportive, open cultures that help staff do their job to the best of their ability

  • Along with other members of the senior leadership community, I’m gathering 360 degree feedback from a range of people on how inclusive they perceive me to be as a leader. I’ll use this feedback to think about my strengths and weaknesses, and to plan my own development.

How am I developing leaders and leadership?

  • I joined an interview for a contract design leadership role on one of our highest priority services.
  • Unfortunately this meant I missed a session where our design and user research leads heard from the brilliant Katy Arnold about her experiences developing user-centred design at the Home Office. We have lots to learn from people and teams building capability in other big service organisations.

How can I demonstrate that user-centred design is making a difference?

  • Rochelle and I will be joining a newly set up assurance board to make sure NHS Digital solutions meet evolving user needs and follow our design principles. We’ll see evidence from service teams and gain assurance on whether they are meeting GDS’s digital spend control criteria.
  • Rochelle is also leading on work to collate and surface user experience performance across the range of services our Product Development directorate is responsible for.
  • With Ben, our executive director, a group of us are preparing a paper on service design and product management for members of our board.
  • I got a preview of a video that Chad in our communications team has been making with members of my profession group, to talk about the value of user-centred design in our organisation.

What connections did I make?

  • Outside NHS Digital, I joined a first meeting at a local organisation with an inspiring social purpose. More follows in the next few weeks on my involvement in that.

What do I need to take care of?

  • Breaking out of the “too busy to delegate” trap. My team has worked hard to get budget approval to bring in more people to help with our work, but that’s only half the challenge. The next step is to find the right people and bring them on board. I’ll be really disappointed if we fall at that hurdle.
  • Thinking about the inclusivity questions we’re focusing on as a senior leadership community in NHS Digital, I need to strike the right notes in talking with passion about doing things in a user-centred way without alienating people from other professional traditions, or implying that mine has all the answers.
  • I’ve been thinking of NHS colleagues working and leading on the frontline through the UK’s Coronavirus “second wave”. I hope they’re all looking after themselves, as well as the teams and patients they serve.

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