I was thinking about the importance of prototyping again this week:

There’s often still a hang up with the idea of prototyping as part of any kind of discovery work. Think of it more as a learning tool e.g. “how can we make something real enough to learn more about it?”.

The original Twitter thread is here.

I went on to say that: Discovery sometimes has to be about understanding user needs within the context of new concepts, scenarios or services that aren’t yet real e.g. as a response to new policies, ideas or opportunities. It comes back to understanding the difference between types of user needs. …

The phrase ‘service model’ is something I’ve found myself using more and more in recent years. I’ve seen it used elsewhere in different contexts as well.

So what are service models? Here’s my definition:

“Service models are a way for organisations to create, test, and scale the design of whole services.”

If a business model is how an organisation operates, then a service model is how we shape and align design decisions to ensure consistency and quality as we build, pilot, and scale whole services.

This is also different from how I think about operating models, or more detailed blueprints for how something is intended to operate. A service model is more how to design whole services, but starting from smaller component parts of what will eventually be part of much larger complex systems with interdependencies. …

“Digital working shouldn’t mean 8 hours of video calls a day …teams are massively overlooking instant (written) messaging, and the power of writing things down clearly, understanding tasks, responsibilities to get on with work independently.”

It’s an interesting insight into how people are feeling when an incidental tweet like this starts to go viral.

My Twitter network is mostly a mixture of digital and design people, including many people that work in the public sector. …

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We believe in councils as the unit of change.

Back in September, we joined thousands of young people, businesses and local authorities in declaring a climate and ecological emergency, calling for a collective response to addressing the climate crisis.

While we face an immediate crisis of responding to a health pandemic, supporting the organisations we work with across government and the health and third sectors, we’re also continuing to keep the longer-term in focus. The changes we’re all experiencing are starting to point to how we will need to think about the impact of future changes to our lives and work in response to the climate era.

It’s more important than ever that we share what we’re learning, connecting work across our organisations and the sector. …

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This post was co-written with Lily Dart, Experience Director at FutureGov

Yesterday, we shared how we’ve made the shift to remote working. As our team continues to respond rapidly to the daily changes to UK government guidance, we’re all starting to adjust to new patterns in our daily lives, as well as quickly learning and adapting so we can continue to deliver work in the coming months.

For many organisations, the challenges of how to deliver front line services and how to best meet the needs of local communities, including the most vulnerable, are being fully realised. …

Last week was Services Week — organised by the Government Digital Service as a series of events for UK government, but very much a celebration of work across different design and digital teams in the UK. It was noticeable how many teams and organisations were contributing to, or organising events. There have also been many blog posts shared.

On Monday, I visited Newcastle (after a lengthy train delay) to speak at the Service Design North event organised by Fay, Colin, and Helen. …

How to use service patterns is something that I know a number of different organisations are starting to think about. This is a conversation that I’ve seen prompted by the LocalGov Patterns library that we’ve been working on at FutureGov with Essex County Council.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Delivering consistency at scale

As a starting point, it’s important to recognise that there are different types of patterns, and that service patterns are usually distinct from the typical type of work that is documented in a ‘Design System’ (for example, see the GOV.UK design system).

I heard an excellent talk from Lily Dart last month at Create Leicester about designing and scaling design systems for digital delivery (Lily is currently working with Lloyds Banking Group Digital). Lily explained that successful companies realise that to scale delivery they need both high levels of autonomy in teams, and high levels of consistency for design. ‘Design Systems’ are the solution for supporting this type of digital development at scale. …

There was a lot of interest in my recent blog post about how to work in the open in government. I explored some of the reasons why I think that working in the open is important. In this post I want to explore why working in the open can also be inspiring.

Inside out

When you see inside the guts of how something works, it can inspire confidence.

The London Underground is steeped in design history. I’ve been inspired by some of the more modern designs and architecture that have been added to the network in recent years. Westminster station is one such example. A significant upgrade to the station was opened in 1999 as part of the Jubilee line extension from Green Park to Stratford. Unlike most London Underground stations there are no confined tunnels or passageways. …

With more organisations working with service-oriented approaches to delivery in the public sector, this is increasingly leading to questions about models for service ownership in how we design, develop, maintain and improve whole services.

This was a very timely tweet/thread from Chris Fleming (Programme Director at NHS Digital)

“To successfully design the service you must also own the service. It’s very hard to do this in health because care pathways typically span multiple orgs operating under different rules and incentives. Is ICS the level at which this can really start to happen? …

As I did at the Create Leicester conference last week, I often start talks by saying that ‘design is a good idea’.

“The line between good and bad ideas is very thin. A bad idea in the hands of the right person can easily be tweaked into a good idea.” — Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

I’ve seen this through my experience as a designer. There is sometimes very little between what makes a good idea, and what becomes labelled or considered a bad idea. …


Ben Holliday

Chief Design Officer, FutureGov / also find me at hollidazed.co.uk

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