How the coronavirus changed what we worry about

The Guardian made a video based around my team’s work to provide advice during the pandemic. I’m so proud of what they have achieved, and this is a lovely record of it.

This BBC article breaks it down further, including the top 5 most-searched terms on the Citizens Advice website in 2020: redundancy, Universal Credit, divorce, furlough and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Leadership skills for digital practitioners

Ade Adewunmi and I ran a training session for service designers and heads of service design across government. It’s an expanded version of our tutorial on this topic which you can read about here and here. The training was held at GDS on their last day before moving out of Aviation House, which was a nice symmetry for me.

The training covered how to lead people and teams, whether you’re in a formal leadership role or not, by

  1. Telling a good story
  2. Having evidence for putting users first
  3. Getting people involved, because it gets them invested
  4. Being nice
  5. Looking after yourself

It’s based on what Ade and I have learned in leadership roles, and we aim to make it as practical as possible.

It’s always fun to deliver this session and I learned some new leadership tips myself. My favourite was equipping your teams with ‘lines to take’ on questions or criticisms you regularly receive during your work e.g. “why should we bother doing research?”. Brilliant idea. I love this because it’s really useful and should empower people to stick up for themselves and their work in situations that can be stressful.

We got some lovely feedback from people who came to the training. Thanks folks!

If you’d like to come to this, we’re running it as a 90 minute tutorial at UX Cambridge in September, or you can hire us to do it for your organisation.

Leadership skills for disruption

Ade Adewunmi and I have developed a tutorial about leadership for people working in digital transformation. We’ve done it at General Assembly and Service Design in Government 2017. On Medium, Ade explains the tutorial and about leading teams, and I writeĀ about leading organisations.

This work is important to me because leadership skills aren’t something that are often taught, or at least, they weren’t taught to me and the people I know. Leadership skills can seem to “naturally” occur in people in leadership positions, and leaders can hold and extend their power by not explaining how leadership is done. In the area I work in, these positions are held in great number by straight, white, middle class men. Explaining how leadership is done might chip away at the idea that leadership skills are found mostly or even “naturally” (shudder) in thoseĀ people, and encourage moreĀ people to have a go.

Collaborating and persuading to do digital transformation

I wrote a couple of posts for the Department of Health Digital Health blog about some of the work we are doing at Public Health England as part of our move to GOV.UK and NHS Choices.

One is about how we chose which of our 150 websites to transitionĀ first, based on user need and organisational priority. The other is about some of the things we do to get the rest of the organisation working with us to make this change. They sit nicely with Sarah Richard’s great post about convincing your organisation about usability.

These posts are about the collaboration and persuasion that is part of doing digital transformation. This work requires energy, tenacity and determination. It requires willingness to understand the organisation you are working in, its priorities, how it works, and the perspectives of people you are working with who might question what you’re doing.

In my experience this is often the hardest work of digital transformation, and often the most important to making lasting change.