Weeknote 8th to 15th March

Highlights from last week

  • I signed up to offer my time to the Network Shuri shadowing programme. You should too. The programme aims to ‘create opportunities for women of colour to shadow digital leaders, build relationships, gain insight into different roles and environments and in particular share learning from working through the Covid 19 pandemic.’ You can find out more and sign up here https://shurinetwork.com/shuri-shadowing-programme/
  • I met with UCD leads to work out the pipeline process for our work with our service design partners and then later in the week met with one of those partners to look at what was in that pipeline.
  • I got feedback on the service design maturity model from the screening team and talked about where product and delivery might fit into it.
  • I chaired the coronavirus UCD community meet up where this week there was nothing specific on the agenda yet the whole hour was taken up by people across products talking about their work and helping each other to find ways to deliver it.
  • George did a great show and tell about the works she is doing to progress our service catalogue work.
  • I enjoyed working with colleagues from across the organisation in a workshop on customer focus. We had some really interesting debates on terms and definitions. The session also highlighted just how much work is happening across the organisation to gain insight and how we need to bring it together better — in terms of body of knowledge but also to reduce any unnecessary burden on those that are providing it.
  • I participated in the first Digital Primary Care Evaluation and Research Network meeting. This brings together academics and researchers working in digital primary care to discuss findings, exchange ideas, and link policy and research. Like the customer focus workshop, this also brought together insight from many different types of researchers with different researcher titles (academic, clinical, user) again creating a body of knowledge. During my career, I have worked as an academic, social and user researcher. We sometimes use different words to describe what we do but the tools that each researcher uses all stem from the same robust methodological base. They are just applied in different ways.

What made me think

There were a couple of things that happened that made me think about how being open about your own personal experiences at work, can help other feel less alone in theirs and more able to get support from colleagues.

One was NHS Digital’s Senior leadership community call where we heard about the work our organisation is doing to raise awareness of the menopause and the impact it has on our colleagues.

I had a surgically induced menopause 4 years ago and experienced its impact until I was lucky enough to get hormone replacement medication to manage the symptoms. The impact without medication was that my brain just didn’t work and I couldn’t rely on it on the way I used to. Coupled with this, I was really tired, yet struggled to sleep. This made work and family life with two young kids really hard and made me incredibly frustrated at my lack of ability to function.

Luckily for me, this lasted only a couple of months till the medication kicked in but for many people this lasts years. I felt able to be open about my symptoms at work and their impact probably because I was quite open with colleagues about my operation, however many people do not feel they can be. The session made me think about being more open about my experience so that I might help others to be open and hopefully get that support at work as well.

Some of the things I plan to do next week

  • Review feedback on my blog post (yes, yes. I have still not done it!)
  • Related: keep the thinking time blocked out in my diary as actual thinking time
  • Have a chat with a colleague who was at the service design maturity model show and tell and wants to know more
  • Talk to the rest of product development senior leadership team about experience dashboards
  • UCD monthly finance review
  • Meet with Tosin and Rachel about our user research community site
  • Digital Transformation of screening programme board

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