At the end of every week I take a little time to do a brain dump for myself in Evernote. I believe in working in the open and try to share some/most/all of the work bit of my brain dump as blog posts. (Coincidentally “make things open” is a government design principle.) It is not always that straightforward.

Towards the end of January I moved to a new service at DWP Digital, working as a service designer. I am trying to share what I can. Some of these notes might be vague because I am being mindful of… stuff. Apologies in advance if that stands out. I’d rather share some things than no things. :-)

If you are interested in doing your own week notes there is an excellent post by Sam Villis to help you.

How did our work move forwards?

Planning was solid, some clear goals and then some clear tasks to help us meet those goals. The designing gang were patient working it through. Setting up to get on not setting to fall.

Wednesday was elaboration of planning and show and tell. It’s important at show and tell to be clear to people who are interested in what we are doing about 1. What we did, and 2. Why we did it. (Usually not in that order: scene set then delve into outcomes.) Jo, Sam, and Lisa did excellent work getting across the two pieces of work they’ve been focused on, and by showing the work we’ve done. Tangibles for the win.

All day Thursday was on-site working through the service, evaluating how comfortable we all are with the make up of it. I wasn’t looking for a complete picture, but was looking for what we knew, what we needed to delve into. What are the steps? What is the outcome we are looking for in each step? What is the output from each step? Some stuff is down already, as process maps or checklists. Some stuff is in people’s heads. We need to just get it all visible. I came up with a laboured analogy about a relay race, and knowing who is running and what their running style is. When we’re racing we just need to know the baton gets passed on, but while we’re training we need to work on each runner’s approach so we can be comfortable we’ll get the baton. I know. It needs work, OK?

Andy, Sam, and Jo got some good pointers about the structure of the product they are designing and are moving to get them firmed up already. They’re using a spreadsheet as it’s easy to edit and move things around. They can then use that as the basis to update an in-browser prototype.

Ending the week reviewing where Thursday took us was fun. I am basically – and emphasis on basic – using a spreadsheet to make a matrix that allows me to get across what we know/have, what we don’t have, what we need to look into more, and a suggestion of priority. Some colours here and there to show that and that’s next week set up.

We moved the research planning board/chart hung up in the Leeds office away from the corner of the office. It’s now on the boards near where we usually sit: Easier for us to get access to but also there’s a lot of footfall so more visible to our team – and other teams. We want people to join us in these sessions.

What next?

Continue the service designing next week. A couple of days booked out to get that detail in place. Looking forward to it.

We need to share our progress on the product with the immediate team. To help with that we need to continue to show our thinking as tangibles. Andy and Sam have that in hand with their prototyping plans.

I am hoping I find time to observing people, that Lisa has set up. I’ve a lot crammed in, but hope I can find the time. On that point I need to make sure I don’t get lost in everything going on, make sure I put some time aside day to day to collect and close my thoughts ahead of the next day. I’ve tried to do that this week and it’s made starting the next day smoother.


When I am focused on getting some specific thing continually chugging along I don’t tend to find much time to look outwards, so I haven’t had much chance to look at Twitter or any blog posts. I did find time to catch most of the European football semi-finals on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And had a lovely run along the canal last night, even if it was a little cold. Good to clear the head after a brain bashing day.

Exit mood

The team is moving forward. Confident this time next week we’ll be able to say “as much as we know there’s our initial end to end service and here’s what we need to finish off ahead of testing it with users”.

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