Weeknote 14th April 2023

Rochelle Gold
4 min readMay 20, 2023

What did I do to make a difference this week

Theme for this week is probably looking back and looking forward. I had my end of year review with Tim where we discussed my achievements and performance this year and my goals for the next. It has been a challenging year from both a work and personal level but whilst I really would prefer not to have had my personal health challenges, from a work perspective, being challenged is probably where I thrive. That is the space I need to be working in moving forward to ensure I continue to make a difference.

Looking forward, this week I submitted our Heads of UCD response to the consultation something we have jointly developed over the past few weeks. Annual leave meant that a group of us brought together our response document a couple of weeks ago, a couple refined it last week and this week I shared it with Kathryn on her return from leave to ensure it reflected her views then talked our line manager through it before finalising. It is a collaborative response from the UCD leadership where we have worked within the constraints to construct a proposal that will enable greater value to be delivered than what was originally suggested. If you look at where we have come from to where we are now, we have already come quite far on our journey towards our vision of where we need UCD to be. The proposal and the whole reorganisation is the next step in the journey to our vision.

This week I also sat on the panel in an assurance workshop. The team we met with are where they are for a number of reasons so in this instance it was less about focussing on the journey that went before and more on how they can get to where this needs to be. The team are part of my organisation so I have been navigating my role in this which is a challenge but is something that should in theory help everyone involved.

I met with a colleague working outside our directorate to talk about our work, learn about theirs, how they might fit together and supported them to develop their network wider. I also had a number of 121 chats with other colleagues and mentees and helped a couple of those with some tricky issues and concerns that I am also supporting them to resolve. I chaired our user research leadership community of practice, caught up with our UCD ops team and watched Sam and Ellen present an overview of our inclusive design definitions and framework to our user research community. A momentous achievement also happened this week where I managed to jointly work on online powerpoint slides with my ex NHSx NHSE colleagues that are in some sort of Bermuda triangle of IT profiles. Seems like a small thing but it has the potential to take a lot of workaround weight and frustration away from these colleagues.

I had a conversation with Tom where he shared some observations about the impact of our UR lab that got me thinking. User researchers have noticed the positive difference in collaborative working that in person lab vs online user research is having on the team. Being face to face in the observation room is creating space for and triggering design conversations that don’t happen as much when you are observing virtually. It might be a bit like the effect of being in the office and seeing people face to face. You have those conversations you might not have had in an arranged virtual meeting. You can fire ideas back and forth as you each reflect on what you are observing as you are observing it. When you observe user research virtually, you can chat on background channels but maybe not verbally or ideate together as the session happens. Virtual user research has a number of advantages, but we need to make sure that when we weigh up the value of our research method, we include the value of the methodology of observation, analysis and the design conversations that flow from it.

What I need to do to make more of a difference

I need to ensure that in the new world I am still doing work that is challenging of my skills and abilities.

I also need to keep on with my challenging language mission. This week there was a lot of use of the work citizen to describe users of the NHS. Not every user of the NHS is also a citizen and so we are excluding a large number of people when we use the term.

Plans for next week

  • Work on profession/ specialism in the new NHSE
  • Finalising plans for the ‘not a repository’ project
  • Cross org work on bringing together spend controls in the new NHS
  • Starting to bash out ideas for a keynote I have been asked to deliver
  • Reviewing my current workload and priorities

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Rochelle Gold

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