July Monthnote

Rochelle Gold
5 min readAug 12

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Stained glass window including the words Saltburn Tramway
Saltburn funicular carriage window taken during some time out with family

There has been a distinct lack of day, week or any other sort of reflection notes this month which has made writing this public month note much more difficult. I started the month out with good intent to rectify my lack of time to reflect, blocking some time out to do so. That did work to some extent but mainly in making sure I had time to decipher information I had taken in and turn it into a coherent plan of action, as opposed to time for weeknoting.

Whilst I haven’t had chance to weeknote, work in the time that I did block out has enabled me to progress lots of the things I am juggling and whilst the workload has been high, deadlines demanding and content complex, I would say it was a satisfying month work wise.

I’ve collaborated with Nick virtually and in person to move our procurement on significantly, getting through all the approval hoops we have so far attempted to jump though. I’ve worked with Kathryn to work through the massive interest in and process for contractor roles to bring this work to the point of onboarding new colleagues to help us deliver some high profile work. Sam has done some fantastic work to ensure that we can have continuation of other UCD capacity and Nosober and I have worked through approval hoops that will enable us to bring in new permanent colleagues. I’ve also been able to open up internal recruitment to some of our user researcher vacancies.

This month I also kicked off a UCD community of practice in our digital primary care area that in its first meeting potentially unblocked access to participants for one team, just by bringing people together into one space to talk. I’ve been working with Yinka and Andy to bring together our centres of expertise and digital workforce work. We held our UCD ops away day, reviewed where we were in delivering our roadmap, planned our priorities for next year, and started the conversation with the service manual team about how we come together into the UCD Centre of Expertise. In my digital primary care work I have also been gathering people around the end to end experience conversation, how digital, operations and policy are all inextricably linked and how that needs to be reflected in the way we work as a portfolio and an organisation.

It has also been a month of endings. My eldest child finished primary school and with the reorganisation voluntary redundancy process and promotions, I have also been saying goodbye to a few colleagues this month. Endings are just as important as beginnings to get right. The way you end your career in an organisation is your lasting impression of that organisation, irrespective of the experience you had working there before then. Organisations focus a lot on onboarding people and inductions in the first few months. They don’t always focus on how people’s journey with them ends — and for that matter the fact that it may not have completely, and you may want them to return in the future. How people feel, how they are treated and ensuring they know they are valued is really important throughout people’s whole career journey. I hope we got this right in the ‘endings’ that occurred this month and am looking out to see what brilliant work my ex-colleagues get up to next.

The absence of my weeknotes are a red flag to me that there is a risk that I am not taking care of me and I need to reflect on my workload, reprioritise and reset. I did that this month, taking some short notice leave to give me an extra long weekend to spend time doing things that I know replenish me. I came back to work reset and with a clear view of what needed to be done.

I had my 12 month check up at the breast unit earlier in the month. As part of this I had some tests and I had to wait for the results for longer than normal. They were likely to show that I was ok but it wasn’t until I felt the relief of getting the all clear during my time off that I realised how much it was hanging over me. Whilst for patients being checked and tested can be reassuring, it is equally worrying and can can involve reliving the initial diagnosis. I am pretty sure that subconsciously my wait for results contributed to the need to take time out so I need to be conscious of this when the time comes for my next 6 month check.

Some of the things I enjoyed this month

I really enjoyed meeting with and delivering a masterclass on user research to James’ SLT from York and Scarborough Teaching Hospital. Lisa, Tanja, Tom and I talked them through how we do user research and some practical examples. Then we led them through a user research role play which I particularly enjoyed as I got to feedback to James on his user research techniques.

Whilst it significantly added to workload and deadline pressures, the contractor recruitment gave me the opportunity to meet and have conversations with some new and some known faces, learn about them and hear about work happening elsewhere. I met some great people and am looking forward to welcoming them to our UCD community.

I have also really valued the time I have been spending in the office, the conversations and work that it enables and the progress it is enabling me to make in a few tricky areas. I am tending to work in the office 2 days per week and the quick ad hoc conversations and collaborations with people who are also there are invaluable, as is the reflection time during my commute. It also gives me a good separation between work and home as my laptop is shut down before I get through the door.

Looking forward to next month

  • Having the opportunity to see colleagues shine in our internal recruitment process, hear about their work and hear how they have developed within our organisation
  • Welcoming our new Associate Director of Product and User-centred Design
  • Some time off with family
  • Service design work in primary care
  • Tackling an issue that needs resolving that I had agreed to put on the back burner but now I think is the time to revisit

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Rochelle Gold

Head of User Research @NHS England (formerly NHS Digital). Views my own.