Fortnightnote 24th June to 9th July

(After the last note was a monthnote, my goal is to get back to week notes and fortnight is an improvement)

Some of the things that happened

Tero and I delivered a session at Wythnos UX 2021 Llywodraeth Cymru (Welsh Government UX week) entitled Dylunio sy’n Canolbwyntio ar y Defnyddiwr yw’r strategaeth (User Centred Design is the Strategy). We covered how understanding the right problem to be solved and how to solve it the right way is essentially the basis of any good strategy. Tero has previously written about some of what we talked about here Design is the strategy — NHS Digital

I drafted my breakfast broadcast content and ran through them with my fellow panel members and comms colleagues. I also roped a colleague into going through a case study that shows the value and practical application of user centred design.

We concluded some of the recruitment we have been doing and had the enjoyable task of offering a number of roles.

I watched our product development all hands and listened to colleagues from our Pathways team talk about some really impactful work on racial equality.

We said goodbye to Jeanette, one of our senior user researchers, who is retiring. She was the most senior user researcher in the organisation when I started 6 years ago. There were only 5 user researchers at the time (now we have over 60) and Jeanette was incredibly welcoming, supportive and knowledgeable (at one point she was my career manager, so wins a medal for that!). We will all really miss her.

I also had lots of challenging conversations about lots of challenging things.

I learnt that when you give a deadline for people to provide a good reason not to do something, you get a faster and greater response than a deadline for permission.

What made me think

The theme of everyone doing their best job within difficult constraints was apparent again. It is really important to me that I work and make decisions with integrity, in a way that aligns with my values and leads to an inclusive outcome. Sometimes this means that I have to work away at various constraints and through corporate processes to make this happen. Often this is something I am doing in the background and because of its nature, I am not able to be open about it at the time which can be frustrating for people who are personally impacted by and awaiting the outcome.

I have also been thinking about the importance of developing people to grow user research skills and how we balance that with making sure that people have the level of skill to get robust data. There have been instances where the scale of user research or capacity of user researchers have led to people without a user research background being briefed so that they can gather at least some data to help make decisions. Sometimes no data is better than some data that is flawed or not robust. Flawed data leads to flawed decisions and gives a false sense of confidence in decisions made. I don’t believe it is fair or ethical for decision maker, participant, ‘data collector’ or anyone that that decision impacts. User research helps to mitigate risk but flawed research increases it. We also risk user research standards and craft and perpetuate the myth that ‘anyone can do it as its just talking to people.’

Some of my plans for next week

Speaking at the NHS Digital Breakfast event on user centred design

Meeting internal training colleagues to see how we can work together on upskilling people in user centred design

Attending the digital transformation of screening board

Covid community of practice where Lucy will be talking about user research on the covid pass

A meeting about inclusive patient involvement as part of my role as a patient participant rep

Cheering on my kids at sportsday

Head of User Research @NHS Digital. Views my own.