This is the last in a series of three blogs looking at how Policy Lab methods can help address some of the common biases of policy-makers. It is based on the Behavioural Insight Team’s (BIT) latest report, Behavioural Government, which identifies eight biases in three areas: noticing, deliberating, and executing.  

Sanjan’s mapping with only ‘executing’ highlighted. See the full diagram by clicking to the first blog.

My first blog was on noticing… if you missed it, it’s called Bias Busters: who you gonna call?. It explains what behavioural biases are and explores how Lab processes help policy-makers overcome framing effects, the (mis)allocation of attention, and confirmation bias.

The second blog was about reducing bias when deliberating.

In this final blog, I share how policy-makers can, and already are, using experimental approaches and practical tools to ‘bust biases’ when executing policy.

Translating policies into reality, such as creating a new governance body, or establishing the infrastructure for a new service, is fraught with complexity. In government, policy and implementation are traditionally separated into linear stages. By the time a policy team explains their rationale to their delivery colleagues, the idea has often been solidified, thereby removing the opportunity for implementation to challenge or inform the programme. In the Policy Lab approach, those delivery partners are present from the start, bringing their knowledge of the frontline, challenging policy-makers’ assumptions and helping develop more robust policy solutions.

The main complaint from civil servants involved in the delivery is a lack of pragmatism and tendency to be over-optimistic about how things might work. The Behavioural Government report highlights a review of 258 public transport infrastructure projects conducted between 1910 and 1998. “On average, project costs were 28% higher than expected, and they were underestimated for almost 9 out of 10 projects.” Worryingly over the years the was no evidence that governments got any better at forecasting – that tendency to be optimistic was not dented.

Optimism bias

BIT argues that unrealistic expectations and overconfidence can be driven by a combination of policy ambition, confirmation bias among individuals, and group reinforcement. They recommend conducting ‘pre-mortems’ on policy proposals, making more than one estimate – and building in trials and variation into execution wherever possible.

Policy Lab’s involvement generally starts at the earliest stage of policy, where challenge questions still need to be defined and strategies crystallised. For us, execution of a policy begins with the creation of the right challenge question and strategic direction. Here the same rules apply and, in fact, we think it’s even more valuable to explore multiple options at this early stage.

Testing policy ideas is not new. Adaptive policy making was first proposed in the early 1900’s. Dewey argued that policies should be treated as experiments, with the aim of promoting continual learning and adaptation in response to experience over time.

When working on more strategic pieces, we expand on the hopes and fears technique using speculative design. This imagines a number of possible futures and creates objects and artefacts which might be present in them as a way of provoking debate to elicit new insight.

Two workshop participants respond to a robot repair shop of the future

It’s much easier for policy teams to agree on a utopian vision – applying their optimism bias. So our speculations focus on either more dystopian visions or use ‘weak signal’ trends to form less conventional versions of what’s coming next. We’ve applied the approach to better understand challenges facing an ageing society and to test the government’s approach to smart shipping.

Illusion of control

BIT recommends incorporating mechanisms for feedback and adaptation in implementation plans to break policymakers’ illusion of control. In effect this means finding ways to review how ideas are being implemented and if the delivery is not going to plan. BIT suggests there need to be “clear responsibilities for who should try and steer the relevant system”. The design approach works well here: prototyping helps you spot – early on – what might not work, and the focus on the citizen’s journey cuts through organisational silos to reveal the interconnection of systems.

A systems map for one of our projects

We’ve become increasingly interested in that system interconnectivity and how you can better understand and communicate it. The systems approach has the potential to create a paradigm shift in organisational psychology, and in government it challenges a policy maker’s assumptions about how much control they realistically have. In a recent project, Lab mapped the way some types of information flow through a particularly complex system. This helped us understand the system in full and identify potential interventions. The map reveals how changes in the system can have an effect on other actors and helps identify where the major issues are clustered. The mapping helped stakeholders think through which agencies or departments could take on, or step back from, certain responsibilities.

What next?

Over the last three blogs I have explored the connection between cognitive bias in policy making and Policy Lab’s experimental techniques. Bias busting is not an end in itself, but one way of ensuring better policy outcomes. We use all the methods I’ve discussed across large and small scale projects to support policy makers to tackle some of the most complex policy challenges in the UK.

I hope this series might have inspired you to think about how experimental approaches might help you in tackling your policy challenges. We all have biases: it is in recognising and creating the space to challenge that we can all be part of making policy better. We’d love to hear what you’re doing to bust your own biases.  

Tell us what you think, or if you are interested in commissioning Policy Lab to support your team then please get in touch at  

Original source – Policy Lab

Collideoscope improvements: ready to roll

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Keen readers of our blog will have followed our updates on the latest round of improvements to Collideoscope, a joint project with Merseyside Road Safety Partnership.

These are now shipped and ready for you to use, so here’s a quick guide to what’s new. Or, if you want the tl;dr version:

  • It’s more obvious what the site’s for, where reports are sent and why
  • With our new ‘heatmap’ visualisations you can see at a glance where most incidents have been reported
  • Data can be easily downloaded for your own purposes
  • We’ll guide users to make a police report if their incident warrants it

A clear proposition

After putting quite a bit of thought into wording across the site, we hope that Collideoscope’s two aims are a lot more prominent throughout. These are to collect data on cycling incidents, and to make that data available to those who need it.

New Collideoscope homepage showing its strapline: "Help Us make Cycling Safer: Tell us about your collisions and near misses so we can build the evidence base for improvements, together"

This double aim is something that many mySociety sites have in common: they need to cater for people who want to make a report, and people who can make use of the data that those reports generate.

Let’s look at how our recent changes meet the needs of  each of these audiences.

Making reports

Where do reports go?

Collideoscope is based on the same software as FixMyStreet, but unlike our street fault site it doesn’t send your report with the expectation that it will be ‘fixed’.

Instead, here’s what happens:

  • Just like FixMyStreet, your report is immediately published on the Collideoscope website for anyone to see.
  • It becomes part of the database of incidents that is available for researchers, campaigners etc, to draw upon.
  • At the same time, a copy of the report is also sent to your council, but this is to feed into their understanding of dangerous hotspots in their area, rather than with any expectation that they’ll respond.

Suggesting next steps

Of course, there are certain types of incident which should always, by law, be reported to the police. These include those where there’s any injury or damage to property.

Now, we don’t want anyone to think that Collideoscope is an alternative to making a police report. At one point, we considered adding functionality that would allow you to additionally send your report off to the police, but we found that this would be a monumental task, far above the resources we have for this phase of the project.

Zarino, whose research has helped inform these improvements, explained:

Sadly, there’s no standard across the UK that we could plug into: no common set of questions to be answered, no common place for the information to be sent. Plus, the (paper!) police reporting forms are really long — they aim to gather everything that would be needed, should the case go to court.

We didn’t think recreating those forms online would help anyone – not least because the police would, in all probability, just ask the reporter to redo it all on a paper form.

Advising the user to make a report to the policeAt this point in time, it seems the police are far more geared up to reports being made by phone or in person. So with all this in mind, we’ve ensured that when a user makes a report that meets the required degree of severity, they’re prompted to also let the police know.

Because we have the postcode of the spot where the incident happened, we’re able to give the user a link to the correct police force for the area, and so as not to divert the task in hand, we do this once the Collideoscope report is confirmed.

Users making any type of report will also see a link through which they can find their local cycling campaign group, in case they want to get proactive about improving road safety.

Using Collideoscope’s data

By neighbourhood

There are a number of ways to access the data on Collideoscope.

As with FixMyStreet, you can view any neighbourhood by inputting the postcode or place name in the search box on the homepage (or asking it to automatically geolocate you). You’ll then see all the incidents reported in the area, with the option to include police reports (England only).

But Collideoscope also has a new feature that makes it easier to understand the density of reports: you’ll notice that some of the roads appear in varying shades of orange. The deeper the colour, the more reports have been made on that street — and if you’re a cyclist yourself, you’ll know at a glance where you need to be extra careful.

Collideoscope heatmap

So now you can check out your route and know where to take the most care. (If you find this feature distracting, just look for the ‘hide heatmap’ button at the bottom right of the screen).

By council or across the whole country

We’ve introduced a nifty new reports page, from which you can see how many reports have been made, either on a council-by-council basis or for the whole of the UK. Once you’ve picked your council, you can break it down even further, by ward.

There’s the additional option to view graphs grouping incidents by severity and by the other vehicle (if any) that was involved.

This data can be downloaded in CSV form, for anyone who might need it to support planning decisions, research or campaigns.

Stats on Collideoscope

We hope you’ll go and have a click around the refreshed Collideoscope — and remember it’s there should you be unfortunate enough to get into a cycling scrape in the future. If you do, at least you’ll know that your data is contributing to a good cause.

Will you use this data?

As we’ve described, it’s now very easy for you to self-serve Collideoscope’s data, but all the same, we’d love to hear how you’ll be using it. Drop us a line!

We can also help with any technical questions you may have.

Original source – mySociety

Today sees the publication of new proposals from the Social Metrics Commission. Its report sets out a new measurement framework for poverty in the UK.

It’s surprisingly tricky to get a group of experts – or the general public – to agree who is rich and poor, let alone what to do about it. If the proposed measure is adopted, this new consensus would help shape action and policy to transform the lives of those in most need.

You can get another glimpse of how difficult it is to agree on rich and poor from Bobby Duffy’s just released book, The Perils of Perception.

We previously teamed up with Bobby Duffy, then at Ipsos MORI, now at King’s College London, at BX15 to compare people’s estimates of the prevalence of various behaviours – such as cheating on tax or saving enough for pensions – with the reality. It showed how people generally dramatically overestimate bad behaviours, but not good behaviour – unfortunate given the power of declarative social norms.

The Perils of Perception brings together many more such examples, from how often we think others have sex (men are especially wrong) and how happy we think other people are (much less than they actually are).

What happens when we look at public estimates of poverty and wealth? In short, we seem to overestimate the most salient of both. For example, across countries, people overestimate unemployment levels typically by three to five-fold. In the UK, for example, the average guess is 24% (versus 7% at the time of survey). In Germany, people estimated 20% (versus 6%); the USA 32% (versus 6%); and in Italy people estimated an astounding 49% (versus 12%)!

Similarly, when asked ‘what proportion of the total household wealth do you think the wealthiest 1 percent own?’ people generally overestimate. Public estimates in the US were 57% (versus 37%); Germany 59% (versus 30%); Sweden 42% (versus 32%). Curiously, Bobby Duffy’s figures suggest the country with the biggest estimation-reality gap is the UK, with the public estimating the top 1 percent own 59% of wealth (versus 23%).

Duffy’s interpretation of these estimates is that they have more to do with what people feel than what they think. He calls it ‘emotional innumeracy’ – though perhaps we might more diplomatically call it emotionally motivated estimation. Most people feel that unemployment is too high and are worried about it, so they give a high-sounding number. Similarly, they feel the rich have too much, so they give a very high estimate for how much they have.

Does this matter? I think it does. Why support aid programs if you think it’s all a waste of time? Publics across the world overwhelmingly think that the numbers in poverty across the world are going up: more than twice as many think that poverty has doubled over the last decade than think it has halved. Yet World Bank stats show it has more than halved. Similarly, if you think a tiny proportion of the rich have more than half the wealth in your country, you almost certainly think that very top end taxes should be raised – probably just above where your own wealth lies. And if you think poverty is concentrated in one group but not another, this affects where you think extra money should go.

Returning to the Social Metrics Commission, it concluded that our current official estimates of who is poor is wrong. In particular, the Commission concluded that previous measures have not done a good enough job of factoring in unavoidable costs, such as from housing, childcare, or managing a particular disability.

The Commission’s revised overall numbers for how many in the UK are living in poverty – 14.2 million – is pretty close to current numbers, but those captured within the refined definition have changed dramatically. For example, the number of pensioners defined as poor falls, whereas the number with a disability rises markedly – in fact, nearly half of those 14.2m in poverty live in families with a disabled person.

The Commission does not offer policy solutions about how to reduce poverty. It is not clear that the Commissioners themselves would agree on this, let alone the public or political parties. But at least we might now be in a better place to target our efforts if we have a mental model, and official statistics, that have a closer match with objective reality.

Download the full SMC report

David Halpern served as one of the Commissioners on the Social Metrics Commission

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

For the past 10 years, FutureGov has danced to a different beat. Get in, enthuse, support, retrain and get out, leaving people with a new perspective, curiosity and renewed energy. Our approach is to reach into organisations and create sustainable change. We’re not here to change minds but to fundamentally change the hearts of people in public service. We want to show what can be achieved by adopting new ways of working and creating new habits, so you can dance with us, excited for the possibilities of the future, and continue dancing long after we’ve gone.

Creating the conditions for 21st-century work is often done informally as a natural part of our project work with clients. But increasingly, it is has come to us as a deliberate ask as a way to find new routes to solutions for citizens. It is becoming increasingly obvious that in order to move at pace, we must embed modern, agile cultures. In the midst of a broken and restrictive government that doesn’t get the creation attention it needs, organisations are looking to take the best from outside the sector — to move ‘digital’ into mainstream thinking and make change happen.

Locally designed, nationally networked

In response to the need to create modern organisations and desire to learn our ways of working, this year FutureGov introduced Futures Academy: an organisational change programme we design and tailor to individual organisations to create the conditions for running a 21st-century organisation. This is not:

  • a one size fits all offer, dragged and dropped into an organisation
  • an external programme for the few high flyers
  • a predetermined curriculum of theoretic models, leaving organisations to work out how to operationalise the learning
  • a programme of leadership development for the top tier domain, separate from the rest of an organisation

The extent, breadth and scope are decided by the organisation. We can bring perspective on what is important and assess existing organisational culture against that perspective to design the change programme with you. Using our place as a national organisation partnering with many parts of government, we can act as a platform, bringing in senior leadership, organisation design specialists, service design and research practitioners and policy and social change experts to deliver an immersive approach based on using real work to provide the space for learning.

A Futures Academy programme might focus on building capabilities in larger digital or operational teams, or it could be a week-long, immersive learning experience working with a small multidisciplinary team to develop a new set of skills. It could include workshops and advisory sessions with senior leaders and elected members to provoke their thinking or a series of practical project related coaching sessions. Ultimately, every programme is about moving beyond theory to design work that brings individual organisations the ways of working they need.

Testing our approach

We’re already testing different approaches and types of programmes as part of the Futures Academy. We recently worked with a multidisciplinary team from the Corporate Development Department at Essex County Council. FutureGovers Belen (Senior Service Designer) and Ian (Senior Consultant) supported the team to deliver a real project. Introducing new ways of working through a five-day design sprint, each day the team learned by doing through user research and prototyping approaches, supported by agile project management. By trying new tools and techniques first-hand, we helped them to design and test innovative approaches to tackling issues their council faces.

FutureGov is taking the same approach to test different types of programmes, designed with a number of other organisations, to build their skills and capabilities. The Digital Maturity Assessment we undertook at Homes England, highlighted that building digital skills and ways of working as important to help Homes England become a digital organisation. The discovery phase focused on developing a set of skills and capabilities called the ‘digital fundamentals’. These include:

  • digital literacy
  • user research
  • service design
  • organisation design
  • skills relating to innovation and entrepreneurship

Today, coaching and Communities of Practice have also been rolled out across the Homes England Digital to support skill development and cross-team learning and sharing. All levels are involved, as well as the Homes England leadership team, who recognise that digital leadership skills should be developed as part of a wider leadership offer.

Bradford City Council, Sheffield City Council are in the planning stages for their own Futures Academy programmes, and we’ll be building from our experiences with North East Lincolnshire Council, who also worked with FutureGov to shape a Futures Academy. Our aim is to create immersive learning experiences that changes the way organisations do things; to inspire and inform, remove barriers and unlocking potential.

Ian Hutchison and Belen Palacios will be running a workshop around Futures Academy at LocalGovCamp this September and Anne-Louise Clark will be introducing the Futures Academy at Solace Summit in October.

Futures Academy: creating the right conditions for change was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

I’m Rav, a senior software engineer at Benefits, Pensions Digital Technology Services Ltd (BPDTS Ltd), working as part of a DWP Digital scrum team to deliver the redevelopment and eventual re-hosting of an existing Carer’s Allowance web-based service.

BPDTS Ltd is a digital technology service provider for DWP. I joined at the beginning of May and so far, I’m finding it to be both a challenging and a rewarding role.

Rav Velagala

Rav Velagala

Exciting technology

I’ve been immediately thrown into the deep end, tasked with working on the front-end using NodeJS server-side rendering. So far, I’ve been able to use my knowledge and experience to not only write code, but contribute to the whole spectrum of project delivery activities. For example: defining business requirements; participating in and leading scrum sprint ceremonies; automating testing, using continuous integration with build pipelines; and deploying high quality, thoroughly tested and vulnerability-free code into multiple environments.

I’ve been able to find opportunities for improvement and have put forward suggestions regarding best practice, sharing my knowledge on web application security, unit testing, end-to-end testing, continuous integration and continuous deployment, source code static analysis and source code management technologies such as Git and GitLab.

Lots to learn

As with any project, there are many technical challenges to overcome. It’s important to realise that it’s impossible to have all the knowledge and skills needed, but with these challenges comes a number of opportunities to learn something new. I find that the most important skill to have is to always be willing to learn something new. The world of digital is moving at a fast pace and today’s cutting-edge technology can become old news in just a few months, so being open and adaptable to change are qualities that are needed in this role.

There’s a great working atmosphere in the team with a generous amount of flexibility on time spent working and time spent learning. But within this laid-back atmosphere, there’s also a focus on continuous improvement and achieving excellence in everything we deliver.

Ample opportunities

This is echoed in the BPDTS communities of practice, where we’re encouraged to meet with colleagues within our professions and share knowledge and experience.

By working in BPDTS, I’ve been able to progress and become a full stack Javascript software developer. I’ve had the opportunity to learn agile project methodology and how to develop secure, stable, scalable, highly-available software applications using micro-service architecture. I’ve also had exposure to business analyst, QA and DevOps roles to gain a good understanding of the work completed in these positions. I’ve attended numerous training courses and gained industry recognised qualifications including Professional Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Developer. I’ve been able to learn to code using the latest Javascript frameworks such as Vue.js, Angular and React.js and I’ve felt empowered by being included and heavily involved in the decision-making process for each project that I’ve worked on.

Join us

I would definitely recommend joining BPDTS. Resource availability can often change on a project and being able to move in and fill the gaps where the resource is low, to provide vital help is very fulfilling. Having a broad skill set will ensure a rewarding career with opportunities for progression within BPDTS.

We are recruiting now, to find out more check out our software engineering community.

You can also find out more about what’s happening in DWP Digital by subscribing to this blog, have a look at our LinkedIn page and by following us on Twitter @DWPDigital and @DWPDigitalJobs.

Original source – DWP Digital

Coroners have a key role: they investigate deaths and make recommendations for making society safer, addressing issues which have led to potentially avoidable deaths.

Despite this, coroners, and coroners’ offices, are surprisingly not generally subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

At we list many public bodies which don’t actually fall under Freedom of Information law as part of our advocacy for greater transparency.

While, over time, we’ve listed a number of coroners following requests from our users, volunteers Kieran and Richard have recently significantly improved our coverage and we now believe we comprehensively cover all coroners in the United Kingdom (in Scotland the Procurator Fiscal performs a role analogous to that of a coroner). You can view the full list on

What do coroners do?

According to the Government, coroners investigate deaths that have been reported to them, if it appears that:

  • the death was violent or unnatural
  • the cause of death is unknown, or
  • the person died in prison, police custody, or another type of state detention

Coroners investigate to find out who has died; how, when, and where. They also, rather excitingly, have duties relating to treasure and inquests are held to determine if material found should be defined as such, as well as establishing who found it, where and when.

Coroners around the country have different systems and the degree to which they proactively publish their findings varies. So, as with requests to any public body, you should check their website — if they have one — to see if the information you are seeking has been published before making a request. Often a coroner’s website might be a page, or pages, within a local council site.

Coroners’ Reports to Prevent Future Deaths, and responses to them, are sometimes published by the Chief Coroner on the Judiciary website. Statistical information on the work of coroners is published by the Ministry of Justice.

What information might be requested from a coroner?

  • Information about upcoming inquests and hearings.
    • Even where a coroner publishes an online listing, you might want to seek more information so that cases of interest can be identified (asking for the “brief circumstances” of a death, for example).
    • You might want to ask for information about upcoming inquests relating to those who died in state custody, or those relating to deaths in, or following, collisions on roads — or any other category.
    • Or you could request the policies relating to publicising upcoming hearings, to determine if any online listing is comprehensive for example, or to find out if there are mechanisms in place to inform certain people about upcoming hearings. The content of recent notifications of upcoming hearings could be requested.
  • The formal “Record of Inquest” relating to a particular case
  • Reports to Prevent Future Deaths and responses to those reports Though note that, where a response is from a public body which is subject to Freedom of Information law, making a request to that body might be the best approach.
  • Documents relating to particular investigations Regulation 27 of The Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013 states: “The coroner may provide any document or copy of any document to any person who in the opinion of the coroner is a proper person to have possession of it”.
  • Information relating to reports of treasure received and the coroners’ findings in those cases.
  • Information about decisions made by a coroner These can include decisions to exhume a body, discontinue an investigation, or to hold all, or part, of an inquest in private.
  • Correspondence to/from the Chief Coroner and Deputy Chief Coroners.
  • Information about the administration of the coroners’ service You might want to ask for information relating to a coroners’ pay, expenses, costs, fees charged, and for information on their performance. Some requests of this nature might be better directed to the relevant local council.

Pracicalities of requesting

While increased transparency surrounding the circumstances of deaths can lead to safety improvements throughout society —  for example in our industrial workplaces, hospitals and roads — the families of the deceased do of course deserve sensitivity and respect. We’d suggest that all those requesting, or acting on, information from coroners which relates to people’s deaths should be considerate of that.

Coroners will not be used to receiving requests for information made in public via our service. If you are one of the first people to do so, there may be some initial difficulties. Please let us know how you get on: we would be interested in hearing about your experiences.

Image: Thomas Hawk (CC by-nc/2.0)

Original source – mySociety

Your regular reminder of the difference between the discovery and alpha phases of projects.

I know there’s lots of words around this so it’s hard to stay focused, so here’s grabs from the UK gov service manual with some handy pointers. (This stuff doesn’t just happen in gov but the gov manual is a good example.)


A grab from the service manual, showing an opening section from the page on discovery

A grab from the service manual, showing an opening section from the page on alpha

Not clear?

Discovery: Find if there is a problem for your users.

Alpha: Ah, there is a problem! Start exploring how you’d solve that problem for users, with research driven designing and looking at how tech can help make a solution.

That’s pretty clear. Identify a problem that people have. Then work to solve that problem. One leads to the other. The two shouldn’t be merged.

If you’re designing possible solutions and exploring tech in discovery you’re not doing discovery. You’re in alpha. End of.

If you’re skipping discovery and going to do alpha things just say. Don’t hide behind an excuse like “But we are just getting going, so this is our first phase, so we are in discovery.” You are not. Don’t pussyfoot about. Admit it.

If you are jumping to alpha without understanding the problem you are trying to solve then your team and your users will be worse off. But that is your call. It doesn’t need to be though.

A lack of often time is used an excuse to “skip” discovery. There is no excuse to skip spending some time understanding if there is a problem. Any amount of time can be divided. Any amount of time can be divided into a discovery and an alpha. Teams with any degree of experience when presented with constraints and a little time to think can work out and plan how to go about things. Be up front. Make it clear. Involve people. People like to know and they like to know why. Trust your people. And trust the process.

Finally, no more “We’re in a discovery-alpha”. You are only fooling yourself. There is no such thing. No one can be. No one is. Think again. Take some time out, have a think, and start again.

Original source – Simon Wilson

Earlier this month, we headed up to Manchester to take part in and sponsor UK Health Camp 2018.

UK Health Camp brings together a variety of individuals, all passionate about initiating and implementing better healthcare practices and services in the UK. Having worked with  The Department of Health & Social Care, NHS England and on NHS Jobs, we were proud to sponsor an event which supports innovation and discussions on UK healthcare.

Participants interested in design, digital technology for healthcare took part in sessions to openly discuss the full range of healthcare initiatives happening around the UK. These ranged from the use of digital to assist with physical mental illnesses, how civic hackers can contribute to the use of data in healthcare, to the Secretary of State’s tech agenda.

The role of user research in healthcare

Amy Marie Phillips, one of our user researchers, held a session to co-design a user research plan to hypothetically extend the NHS 111 app to allow people to inquire about people other than themselves, something the app currently does not support.

Participants discussed questions they would need to ask before this feature could be added and worked on identifying the potential users of the app.

The group were able to identify several user groups – parents, teachers, primary caregivers, people who don’t have a registered GP were amongst many groups who may want to use NHS 111 on behalf of another person.

The aim of this session was to show how a research plan is put together. It’s only by asking the right questions, can you identify the users and build a plan (and then a ‘thing’) that people genuinely have need of.

Amy explained,  “Often user research is a bit of an afterthought. People use it to validate what they’ve already done. But actually, you can not only ensure you’re designing the right service for the user but also de-risk the project by making sure you’re building the right thing.”

At dxw digital, we strongly believe that the best services are created when we develop an understanding of why and how people use the service being built. Amy’s session showed how building long-term inclusive, effective and resilient services must involve gaining reliable insight into users’ needs and behaviours.

As a follow-up, we’ve created a quick survey to discover how user research is carried out in organisations across the UK. We’d love to get as much feedback as possible and hopefully share our knowledge on best user research methods and practises. You can take part here

Thanks to everyone who organised this year’s UK Health Camp; this year saw a wide range of engaging topics and discussions and it was great to see so many people interested in making a change to delivering user-centred and accessible health care services that can bring about positive outcomes.


The post UK Health Camp 2018 appeared first on dxw.

Original source – dxw

We’re delighted to be hosting the first TICTeC Local conference in Manchester on 6th November 2018.

TICTeC Local is a spinoff from our global The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference, which is now in its fifth successful year.

This event will narrow the lens, focusing on where and how civic tech connects with and impacts Local Government, rather than the international focus we have with our global TICTeC events.

We’ll be examining what works and why, the challenges and ethical decisions involved in using civic tech and how these initiatives can be replicated by local authorities around the UK.

We’ll hear from many local authorities and civic tech practitioners in the UK and further afield who are leading the way on using technology to improve civic participation, streamline citizen interaction with public bodies, and create efficiencies in civic budgets.

If you work in or around the local authority or local public institution space, and have an interest in using digital tools, then do come and join us in Manchester.

You will leave inspired by some of our showcased projects, you’ll have a better understanding of the most effective digital tools, and you’ll have met interesting people who are on a similar journey, or who might be able to help you in developing your digital capacity in the future.

We’ll be announcing speakers and contributors over the next couple of weeks.

For further information and booking please visit the TICTeC Local website. Tickets are available over on Eventbrite and will go fast.

Original source – mySociety

Back in May I read ‘Accelerate’ — I’m a big fan and have encouraged a number of colleagues, friends and passers by to check it out. It is significantly influencing my thinking on our ‘lean software’ practice at Notbinary and how we can best provide the kind of service that genuinely supports ‘transformation’.

The recent publication of the 2018 ‘State of DevOps’ report (well worth a read if you don’t want to immediately spring for the book) reminded me that I wanted to dig a bit deeper into the ‘Westrum’ model mentioned in the book.

Professor Westrum introduced his ‘Three Cultures Model’ in a paper published in the BMJs Quality and Safety journal back in 2004 (you can read the full open access version of the paper). As you would expect given the publication this paper was concerned with the organisational cultures of health institutions but the model was soon identified as being applicable for all kinds of organisations — especially those that need to deal with rapid technological change and expert staff.

The ‘Three Cultures’ he identified are;

Pathological organisations are characterized by large amounts of fear and threat. People often hoard information or withhold it for political reasons, or distort it to make themselves look better.

Bureaucratic organisations protect departments. Those in the department want to maintain their “turf,” insist on their own rules, and generally do things by the book — their book.

Generative organisations focus on the mission. How do we accomplish our goal? Everything is subordinated to good performance, to doing what we are supposed to do.

The Accelerate book is clear that truly high performing organisations are already displaying a ‘generative’ culture. This allows ‘devops’ approaches to flourish and provide all the advantages included in those ways of working.

While I’m lucky enough to have mainly avoided working in ‘pathological’ organisations it is safe to say the majority of my career has been firmly spent in places that embody the ‘bureaucratic’ culture.

What I have come to realise though is that in keeping with my current ‘one team at a time’ philosophy my goal is almost always to create an environment where a team can operate with a ‘generative’ culture (as far as possible) within a wider ‘bureaucratic’ culture. This requires a leadership style that leans heavily on the ‘shit umbrella’ concept — protecting the team from outside distractions while providing them all the information they need about the goals and ambitions of the organisation. It also requires a genuine servant/leadership approach and an almost uncomfortable level of trust in your team. None of these things are easy nor happen over night so I am spending a bit of time at the moment wondering how to better achieve these goals when my current role necessitates shorter engagements and a requirement to deliver change more quickly.

I often talk about the idea that getting teams to embrace these modern ways of working (going full ‘generative’) can act like a virus infecting more bureaucratic organisations — unfortunately often the desire to jump in and ‘scale’ can end up acting like antibiotics — reinforcing process over performance and hobbling the generative culture so it fits in with the bureaucratic mothership. So this is another thing I need to better understand — how can this ‘grassroots’ model of change be made more resistant to the cells fighting back.

Do other people recognise these ‘cultures’ in public service organisations? Is there more ‘pathological’ culture out there than I realise? Is your team able to operate in a more ‘generative’ way or does the local approach prevent this?

What say you?

Westrum World was originally published in Product for the People on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – Product for the People