Discovery notes Week 06

13 to 17 May 2019

Very busy week. Wake up at 4 in the morning thinking about work type of busy.

Some good news (eventually) on Monday. Now a senior designer.

A friend asked what that means. Doing the same things I think. And helping out on a new project.

We did a lot of user research as a team this week. Two pop-ups and two workshops. With a lab and a patient panel planned the week after.


It’s hard work making this simple

Lots of time spent discussing, exploring and trying to make the log of where NHS digital shares data simple.

Found it hard to make it simple to grasp what data has been shared, to who and why. Without adding unimportant noise.

In isolation the things aren’t difficult. But the ordering and interconnected bits are.

In one data sharing agreement you may have your data shared as part of 40 different datasets. All to help a local area evaluate and plan services.

The size, shape and structure of every data sharing agreement is unique.

I just don’t want people to have to know how the system works to see how the system is working for them.

It’d also help if the content wasn’t so academic.

Your job is to help the organisation make better decisions

About a year ago a team from GDS came to the digital delivery centre and I walked round with them for a little bit.

We talked a little about adopting more agile ways of working within programmes.

One of the guests asked a good question:

“How are you helping the programme make better decisions?”

It wasn’t a question I didn’t have an answer to. But it was one of those that stuck with me.

The depth to which you can answer this question is a sign of your impact as a designer or researcher.

Working in agile ways means you make decisions more often. You respond to change. You test things. You make change possible and at a lower cost.

As a designer you ask questions and force decisions. But you need to be purposeful about your work and ask yourself:

  • What decision is my work helping to make?
  • How do I help make that decision?
  • How do I help make the best decision for the user and the organisation?

You’re likely to get pushback when you start working like this. More so if you’re working beyond how something “looks” or how the interface works. People will challenge why a designer is caring about certain decisions or business process. But your job is to challenge thought processes and deliver value. If you’re not challenging you’re probably not designing for a better outcome.

On Friday we had a show and tell that I felt forced a decision and delivered the evidence to make a better choice.

By the end we’d agreed what evidence was left to capture and what we needed to do to finalise a decision.

But also how to communicate that finding beyond our organisation so the whole system stops repeating the same research and finding the same thing.

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