I’ve been in my new role in the new place (DWP) for a month and a half now. Lots to take in.

Just before Christmas I re-read something I wrote in September 2016, on my problem with digital transformation. The post was response to something similar I’d written a year before, in 2015. That was a follow-up to more-similar two years before, in 2013. I pledged for 2018 to plan as that post as my measure for success.

Here is my list of “goals” for the first quarter of 2018, for the work I am doing and around.

(Just to be clear, these are my goals, not representative of any goals my workplace might have.)

User centred design isn’t just the work of designers

It’s not about just the designer doing user-centred design – or just the “designers” in an organisation doing user-centred design. It’s not about a user-centred design team within a product/service team doing the design. It’s about everyone being user centred. DWP Digital is not just about user-centred teams. We’re an organisation built around users’ needs (as Mayank blogged earlier last year).

We already have researchers, content designers, interaction designers, service designers, and front-end devs at our weekly “user centred design” meet. We need to get more of the “user centred team” involved — more people from around the organisation. The presence and involvement of product owners, business analysts, and delivery managers (possibly in that descending order) at our weekly Leeds meets is a key goal.

On the product/service I am on I need to make sure that design decisions are worked through, understood, and made by the wider team. This can help the product owners know what problems to hold — and let them focus our time on the design problems that deliver whatever they perceive as most valuable at that time.

This should help make clear strategy/strategies. More tactics against a clear strategy. “The map is old but it always current. It’s a living thing.”

UX design versus, well, slices of designer

What is interaction design, especially over, say, the cliche of the “UX designer”? Be clear how DWP defines an “interaction designer” and show by doing what an interaction designer does.

While we’re at it user experience is work of a team — it isn’t one person’s role: Continue to emphasise everyone’s role in the collective experience of our users.

Understand and be clear where service design fits into DWP. And be clear what service designers can do within DWP (and DWP Digital): Let service designers be service designers (not filling in doing interaction design stuff).

Define our design examples

We need to continue with the design examples — not styles or assemblies or components or patterns or whatever — work that was picked up in December. See what we’ve got. See what others have got. Rationalise from there. Need to continue to do this with the rest of the team.

…and look at how this fits against all the other stuff happening across gov. (Chris Taylor at the Home Office lead a meet on case study work which seems very relevant to my immediate day-to-day needs.)

Also, contribute to a meet in the next month-or-so about this with as many people as needed from across the org.

Contribute to the design community

Make sure our weekly meets are worth people giving their time up. Have a focus every week, have a programme — and drive it based on needs.

Once in a while look further afield: Talk about design things that are outside of work; Get someone in from elsewhere to talk about how design works (or doesn’t work) for them.

Make sure people know these things are going on.

Design in the open.

Get design out there more. Share, show research and design whenever possible, locally within teams (at worst in the old-sprint review/new-sprint kick-off day) and globally across DWP.

Have more regular reviews (or crits) of the things we are and have designed. And people shouldn’t be scared of leading these and coming to these. I’ve already put out there the slides I use to gert reviews/crits going.

I must blog regularly.

Talk about work wider. Get out to the local universities. Invite in people interested in working for us and with us.

“Make things better” is about people as much as the things we make

Not every team is chock full of people at the peak of their powers. It’s about supporting them and making them better as well as the products/services we work on. Value our people as people, and what we can do to make them better: It’s about who you are, what you can do and could do.

We need to build our skills. Understand what every role brings to the things we work on, the team and the org. Share learnings and knowledge. Teach coding. Teach designing. Build a library of books. Build library of our learnings.

I will help those more junior than me. Support them whenever and wherever possible.

Likewise, don’t take being senior as an excuse to ignore people. Listen to others. Don’t be one of those designers who values empathy with our “external facing users” but is cloth-eared to people they work alongside.

Make sure my colleagues – designers, wider teams – feel, know I have their back.

On the outskirts of this, what can we do with the Digital Academy? (Need to speak to Richard Gunson.)

Co-operation over silos

Already I have heard DWP Digital is there to do the web/tech/IT bit. Co-operation with colleagues further afield in DWP is essential. It’s not about power. It’s about appreciation of our skills and strengths to make things better collectively.

We’re part of a wider community that makes public services

The DWP people in Leeds already work with our DWP colleagues across the country. We can work closer with our public sector colleagues nearby to Leeds, be it NHS Digital, HMRC, Leeds Council, Bradford Council, our gov friends in Sheffield, and more. (I’m already setting up a cross-public services meet for Leeds based orgs.)


Citizens are users. DWP staff are users too. Treating staff as an equal in designing products and services creates better service and outcomes for citizens. (There’s probably a sticker in this.)

The day-to-day/business-as-usual: Product/service goals

The service I am working on will have launched a product by early March. We will have tested it and made it better. This will hopefully be the start of continual gradual improvement for the whole service. (And recycle this work where possible, help other services as well.) The launch is just the start, as some wag once said.

It’s hard to break away from the “Let’s just put a fresh new interface over the old system(s)”, but let’s have a go, eh.


“Social security” is interesting, yes?

It’s OK to say we are just working on a product. It’s not OK to ignore that the product is part of a service.



Get across DWP Digital - not just in Leeds, but in Leeds would be great — is a place you can come to work and make things better so people benefit — including yourself.

Continual, gradual, improvement. No big splashes. Find that stable core that is useful, get it out there, and make it better and build around it.

Don’t be a dick.

Work hard and be nice to people.

Less talking, more doing.

Middle of March 2018

Review this list. See how things have gone. Plan for the next three months if I am tied down to stay longer.

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