Snow-covered allotments
Snow-covered allotments

What was hard?

I struggled with procrastination a few times this week, perhaps accentuated by prospect of continued home working stretching out ahead of me. There are some things on my to-do list that I meant to get done in the working time between Christmas and New Year, didn’t quite get to them, and now other stuff keeps popping in ahead of them in my priorities. I should stop and think why I have a block against these particular tasks. Or just get them out of the way anyway.

What did you enjoy?

There was a team stand-up where everything clicked and I saw the team working as a team, and less as a collection of individuals who happen to share a Trello board. I hope we’ll be able to keep that going, and help each other out from day to day, especially as every team member has different pressures and outside commitments to navigate. …


Steps and a grassy bank covered in snow
Steps and a grassy bank covered in snow

What did you experiment with?

  • A new weeknote format for 2021

What did you enjoy?

  • Working with NHSX colleagues and some of my other favourite people on a new piece of work
  • An intro call with Laura, our organisation’s new chair
  • A walking meeting through the snowy woods near our house

What was hard?

  • Struggling to strike a balance between shared team accountability and giving individuals the space to make things their own
  • Knowing how much to expect from colleagues suddenly pitched back into home-schooling (it seems like a much bigger ask of parents than before)

What are you looking forward to next week?

  • Welcoming a new colleague who is joining NHS Digital on secondment

Originally published at http://blog.mattedgar.com on January 10, 2021.


Fire bowl with fire, gazebo with coloured fairy lights, and a bottle of prosecco on a table between garden seating
Fire bowl with fire, gazebo with coloured fairy lights, and a bottle of prosecco on a table between garden seating
An autumn lockdown treat: we cooked Saturday evening dinner over an open fire in the garden

What inspired me this week?

  • This brilliant video featuring some of my NHS Digital colleagues…
  • Tero’s post on Apolitical: Design is the strategy
  • More workshops with colleagues from Primary Care. This week it felt as if the team got into their stride, and found a good way of structuring conversations about a knotty challenge that we’ve collectively been set by leaders in the national NHS organisations.
  • Peter, our team’s new delivery manager, made suggestions to reshape our Trello board and change the fortnightly cycle of meetings. …


City centre office blocks with church spire and glazed dome shopping centre roof
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…


River with fast flowing water over a weir. Trees either side with calmer water in the ditance
River with fast flowing water over a weir. Trees either side with calmer water in the ditance
Ther River Aire outside Leeds on my Sunday morning bike ride

What connections did I make?

  • An introductory call with Fran, a new director in NHS Digital’s Data Services area
  • Peter joined the user-centred design team as associate delivery manager. I’m looking forward to having some help as a team to focus on our objectives and work in a more agile way

What feedback did I give?

  • It’s not often that I make this point, but on one important service, I highlighted a risk of too many designers and not enough developers. …


Painted inscription on a wall: The Romans cause a wall to be built for the protection of the South
Painted inscription on a wall: The Romans cause a wall to be built for the protection of the South
Caption from murals at Wallington, which I visited during my week off

Back to weeknoting after a hiatus when my time was consumed with other things. Thanks to Rachel for the nudge I needed to get back into the habit.

What inspired me this week?

  • All the stuff that happened while I was on leave the week before! I took a whole week off, confident in the knowledge that our team objectives would keep moving ahead in my absence. It’s great to work with a team that shares a sense of purpose and has the capability to just get on with things.
  • Dean’s follow-up blog post ‘Building a diverse design team… a year later’. …


Image for post
Image for post
Saturday morning bike ride round Bardsey

A double edition covering the 2 weeks since I got back from holiday…

What inspired me this fortnight?

  • Getting back from 2 weeks’ holiday and seeing how the team had moved things on while I was away.
  • The Product Development show and tell, in which two of our user-centred design graduates showed their team’s work on admin interfaces for cancer screening. I was impressed by the way they had tested both with experienced administrators and with trainees, to come up with something that’s easy to learn, and to use over and over again.
  • Our Digital Services Delivery practice leads meeting. The practice lead role is an extra assignment that people take on alongside their work in delivery teams, so it was impressive to see how they’ve kept the communities of practice moving over the past few months, despite the demands of the coronavirus response and other pressing priorities. …


Bike leaning against a wooden fence, in the distance
Bike leaning against a wooden fence, in the distance
Sunday morning bike ride around Harewood

What inspired me this week?

  • 97 people joining our Product Development show and tell on Teams. I think that’s a record! There were great presentations about the coronavirus content toolkit, and a change to the NHS App to improve the user experience when there are temporary glitches in connecting to GP systems.
  • Catching up with Katy, who leads design and research at the Home Office. She shared something she’s been working on, which looks really promising and which I might be able to mirror in my organisation.

How did I uphold the NHS Constitution?

  • I gave feedback on some great work on our service catalogue, reflecting that even if it’s an internal tool, it should use words as if patients and the public were with us in the room. That means cutting out any jargon — language is not inclusive if people have to ask what on earth we’re talking about. It also means thinking carefully about how we frame the relationship between patients and services. If we get this right, I really believe it could be a powerful force for making digital services that uphold people’s dignity and respect. …


Three people walking down a steep path to a beach
Three people walking down a steep path to a beach

A four-day working week after a long weekend on the lovely Northumbrian coast.

What inspired me this week?

  • Happiness is watching a flock of user-centred design professionals from multiple delivery teams swarming over a Miro board in a community workshop. I concluded early in my time at NHS Digital that having teams talk to each other was the foundation of everything. That’s proving to be even more the case in the current crisis.
  • I joined a couple of Zoom presentations for the opening of the RCA design graduate show. …


Swans on canal in front of railway line, in far distance, tall buildings
Swans on canal in front of railway line, in far distance, tall buildings

I got a haircut!

  • Only retrospectively did I realise how much that, along with the scratchy Sharpies, was affecting my mood at my home office.

How am I developing leaders and leadership?

  • We welcomed Emma Parnell as a lead designer to work alongside Dean across our citizen-facing services.
  • I also had a catch-up with Eva, the practice lead for content at NHS Digital. We talked about ways to make sure the roles she looks after are included in my work on user-centred design.
  • It still feels as if we’re thinly spread across the product portfolio, but bit by bit, we’re finding ways to get design, content and user research leadership roles into teams at the right level. …

About

Matt Edgar

Associate director of design and user research, and digital profession lead @NHSDigital. Views my own. https://blog.mattedgar.com/

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