I’ve never thought that human comms was a digital thing.

You know it when you see it and Transport for Greater Manchester have hit upon a rich seam with their road signs.

Rather than give bald travel advice they use wit and style to get their message across.

By doing this the signs evolve from an offline thing – IRL as my son would say – to something that gets posted and shared online.

Ahead of the crunch Manchester United v West Ham game that the home team needed to win…

United need three points but you don’t!!! slow down.

You can see it here.

Ahead of Manchester United v Barcelona…

Pique time will be Messi

What happens when road signs speak human?

They get noticed and they get shared.

Bravo, road sign people of Manchester.


Thanks to Nick Hill for flagging this.

Original source – The Dan Slee Blog » LOCAL SOCIAL: Is it time for a Local localgovcamp?

25 March 2019, Written by Sophie Dennis, Service Design Lead, NHS Digital

The strategic Service Design for Digital Urgent and Emergency Care is a 6-month project to identify where digital has the potential to make the most impact across urgent and emergency care, using a human-centred design approach.

Getting started

We’ve had a very productive kick-off sprint with our partners FutureGov. The next 6 weeks are all about research and engagement with staff and patients. As well as mapping what we already know about people’s end to end journeys from existing research and data.

We’ve decided to focus our patient and staff engagement in three locations:

  • Tower Hamlets in East London
  • South Yorkshire around Doncaster
  • North West Somerset (Exmoor/Minehead)

These should give us a spread of:

  • geography — urban, suburban, remote rural
  • service models — co-location of services, areas with an established Integrated Care System in place, places which were part of the previous Vanguard initiative
  • digital maturity — places taking part in Global Digital Exemplar programme, the maturity of Local Health and Care Record (LHCRE)

All of these locations also have relatively high levels of health inequalities.

What we’ll be doing

Within each location we’ll be visiting a range of care settings, from GP practices to major A&E departments, observing how care is delivered and talking to patients and staff about their experiences. If you work in one of those service areas and could help with arranging a visit, please get in touch with Rich Cassidy at FutureGov for further information.

We’ll also be doing in-depth reflective interviews with patients in their own homes. We’re focusing on four main patient groups:

  • “mainstream” low-complexity adults with an unexpected illness or injury
  • parents of young children
  • people seeking help with a mental health problem
  • elderly/vulnerable adults with multiple conditions and their carers

We’ll do around six interviews with people from each group

There are, of course, other groups we could have included. In particular, adults and children with long-term conditions, like COPD, and people with learning difficulties. They also need the care to adapt to their circumstances and do not have to constantly repeat that information for each new person they encounter.

For now, we’ve decided not to expand the in-depth research to cover these. But we would be interested in speaking to people with expertise with those groups, so we can capture those issues in our wider findings. We can then determine if we need to do a deep-dive with these groups in future.

Keep in touch

Get in touch with Sophie Dennis or Joanna Choukeir if you’d like to chat through any of the work.

Weeknotes 1: Kick-starting the work was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

communications magic and being a magician.jpg

We live in very unkind times. So let’s not add to it. How about we are a little bit kinder about our trickier customers.

by Jude Tipper

“Just work your magic”, I recently told my hairdresser. It’s what I usually say, and he always does. I certainly don’t except him to send me to be shampooed and go into the back room to slag me off.

Equally, I took cuttings from magazines and some rough sketches to my wedding florist. I would’ve been shocked to see her roll her eyes at my attempts to show what I was looking for.

This is what’s been irking me lately: as professional communicators we too often seem to think it’s ok to take the mick and moan about the people we are here to serve…

  • The physios who sent a draft poster with way too much text who’d had a stab at laying it out for you. 

  • The social workers who asked you to make their campaign video go viral, like that Lad Bible one. 

  • The project manager who’d done a comms plan, you just need to add a bit of sparkle

  • The mental health crisis team who asked you to “do a comms”, an all-user email, thanks. 

  • The LGBT+ group who drafted a press release for you put in the local paper, please.

Their attempts are well-meaning. And to them, we do indeed do magic. We have skills, training and experience in something they can’t do. Their inability to do comms keeps us in jobs. They let us add value and prove our worth. Why then do we criticise and mock the way our colleagues ask us for help or present their ideas?

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for sounding off with our peers. The support you can get from the comms community is astounding and, on certain days, it’s very much needed. But there’s a vast difference in reaching out for a sense-check, kind words, or advice and just outright laughing at someone’s request.

And this isn’t just about kindness and professionalism. Never before has it been more important to demonstrate the worth of public sector communicators.

I’d argue that every time we mock someone for their comms attempts we’re implying they ought to know better. They ought to be able to do it without us. Which leaves us where exactly? Handing over the proverbial wands and passing the P45s around.

There are, of course, plenty of occasions when people think they can do your job just as well as you can – if not better. This post isn’t intended to tackle that, we have a whole toolkit for that type of tricky customer. I just wanted to question why we sometimes ridicule well-intentioned efforts of our frontline colleagues. 

So instead, when you’re presented with a draft – that makes your eyes bleed and your souls weep – treat it as an invaluable opportunity to add value. Begin by asking what they’re trying to achieve and what they know about their audience. Don’t be too precious that they’ve stretched the logo, you can resize it and nobody dies. And ignore the dire clip and word art, for now. Educate your client (because that’s what they are, wherever you work). Show them what your magic looks like and teach what you need from them to do your very best tricks. 

And always, always, look for the golden thread. What links you to the frontline? What can you do in that situation that could ultimately save, change or improve lives? Spend time looking for how to add strategic value, rather than wasting time on unkind mockery. 

Sure, vent with peers when you need to – we all need to – but perhaps think twice when you share with your team or post on a forum that someone’s been an idiot today because they couldn’t do your job. Could you do theirs? Have empathy and call it out when a comms colleague doesn’t. 

At the end of another cracking cut, I asked my hairdresser if he minds me asking him to work his magic. 

His response? “Of course not. You value  – and pay for – my skills and, most importantly, you trust me. There’s no greater compliment.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Jude Tipper is head of marketing, communications and engagement at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and soon to be strategic comms lead at NHS Digital. You can connect with her on Twitter at @JudeTipper

Image via Snapshots of the Past

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0


Close-up of text on screen “Find a”

Another short week because I took Thursday and Friday off.

1. What inspired me this week?

  • The openness of the conversations in our product development directorate all hands events. Our exec director, Wendy, and her directors are responsible for more than 600 people between them, so I’m sure their decision to run these events multiple times in different locations was the right one, enabling better quality conversations in smaller groups.
  • We had a practice leads call for my profession, Digital Services Delivery. The leads are all supporting their communities of practice brilliantly through a time of organisational change, and doing this on top of their dayjobs work on products and services. (I thought better of the word “dayjobs” there: unless you actually work nightshifts, everything worth doing at work is part of your dayjob.)
  • A conversation with Trilly, who is product manager for some new work to help people “find a health service”. Trilly inspired me to write a long-overdue blog post about what I mean when I talk about service.

2. What connections did I make?

  • I was privileged to be part of a group, convened by Stephen Hart of the NHS Leadership Academy, of people who were “new to the NHS” in senior roles. There are huge variations in people’s joining experiences, and some common themes and things that we could do to support newcomers better. As someone responsible for a whole profession group that’s new to the health service, I think we could benefit a lot from being part of this community.

3. What do I need to take care of?

  • We had to send a clarification message out to some members of the profession who had got mixed messages from two separate staff communications a few days apart. Over the next few months, I’ll need to keep on top of communication – the right message, to the right people, at the right times and the right channels. It seems to me that this is a basic component of what the NHS Leadership Model calls “leading with care.”

4. What am I learning about myself and my context?

  • I spent the train time home from London on Wednesday re-reading feedback from my learning set peers on my first piece of written work for the Nye Bevan Programme. For the next draft, I need to reflect more on my own values and practices as a leader:
    • As a well-off white man, how do I think about the roles of privilege and “luck” in my career?
    • How do I get better at holding myself and others to account, while continuing to lead with care?
    • How do I better connect what I do as a user-centred design leader to the things that make a difference for patients and workers who give direct care?
    • Given my context and the shifting landscape that I work in, what would a “board level” role in the NHS look like for me?

Original source – Matt Edgar writes here

Day 14 of the 12 Baby Rats Eyes Open
“Day 14 of the 12 Baby Rats Eyes Open” byForsaken Fotos is licensed under CC BY 2.0







Guess what happened in New Zealand this week when a news story broke about Treasury civil servants playing a card game that featured ‘sun feelings’ and ‘moon feelings’? The playing cards were part of a staff wellbeing initiative to help people be more empathetic at work and have different conversations with colleagues.

What could have happened next was that a Treasury spokesperson robustly defended the cards, saying it was important for staff to get support around wellbeing, and that this was a low-cost approach that used a different and fun way to challenge entrenched patterns of behaviour. That wasn’t what happened.

A national news story broke: Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister, had to answer questions about it. Another party leader described the Treasury as ‘bizarre’ and ‘out of touch’. It was seen as further evidence that the current government are putting ‘fluffy’ ideas ahead of hard policy. Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick, who featured in the promotional video for the wellbeing initiative, had to go on-record saying that she did not seek to “prescribe what certain workplaces should be doing with their time.”

Catherine Mangan and I are in New Zealand as guests of ANZSOG. We’ve been talking at various events about the 21st Century Public Servant research (although we’ve not said much about our own playing card game lest it provoke further ire). In all the conversations we are having with public service leaders and managers, we all agree how important it is to take risks, do things differently, shift modes of thinking. ‘Seek forgiveness not permission,’ we say, and everyone nods.

But if we can’t be brave about the tiny little things – like a staff card game that uses some different language (and which its designers link to Maori metaphors) – how can we possibly expect staff to be willing to take risks on the big stuff, on the different ways of working with communities, of supporting families with complex needs?

I’m dismayed that it remains so hard to be brave even about the tiny things that government does that are a bit different. Although this issue is in New Zealand, we are all aware of similar types of stories from our own jurisdictions. The stories that make you think: that’s a handful of public servants who took a bit of a risk and are now being flayed for it. They won’t make that mistake again.

Original source – 21st Century Public Servant



In my early days as a communicator, media relations was the stand-out skill I needed.

I worked for a newsy council that had not long come out of special measures and fell at the intersection between warring newspaper groups. Three daily papers and three weekly papers fought it out with two radio stations and two TV channels. It was a busy time.

Media relations is still important.

But as news has moved from print to digital the key to media coverage has evolved from the ability to create 300-words of press release with a photocall to what content you can supply for Facebook.

Facebook remains the behemoth as we head to towards the third decade of the 21st century.

As I’ve launched a new workshop Vital Facebook Skills with Sarah Lay here are some things for you to know.

10 reasons why every communicator needs to take Facebook seriously

It’s a platform that has the numbers

Graph on blackboardIn the UK, there are 41.8 million people who have used Facebook in the past four weeks. If we take the current UK population as 64.1 million  that means 65 per cent of the population is a regular Facebook user. (source: Ofcom)


It’s a platform that is growing

46348511602_73e635d4e4_o (1)Facebook users are going up not down. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is something to be aware of and there has been a movement to quit Facebook. But this has had limited impact on the bigger numbers. In the UK, from 2017 to 2018 the number of UK Facebook users rose by 5.2 per cent from 39.7 million. (source: Ofcom here and here.)

It’s a place that’s local

8583067748_af45893837_bEvery man woman and child likes nine local groups and pages. That was the result on research I’d carried out. It has become the Parish pump. And the place new parents hang out for advice.

And the Polish community in your town. (source: original research here).

It’s the first port of call for community issues

20190412_111052A Facebook group mobilises support for an issue locally. In the old days it was a pen, paper and a clipboard to collect names. Now? It’s a Facebook group to turn clicktivism to rapid activism.

That’s something you need to be aware of and listening to.


It’s an effective place to target adverts

Target Store at NightYou can reach people you want to reach if you have budget. When you use Facebook you give it a pile of data. That means if you are after a married brass band enthusiast who lives within 20 km of your town hall you can target them and only them. Facebook accounts for 20 per cent of the global ad market, the FT says.

It’s a place where people don’t like to like public sector pages, TBQFH

8560602591_e4b1becbbb_bIn research I’ve carried out, just three per cent of the population like a public sector page. You can have good content. But you need other ways to go and reach people where they chose to hang out on Facebook.

That’s in local groups more often than not. (source: original research).

It’s a place that reaches older people

41868798191_b94568c63c_bIpsos research shows that Facebook reaches 7.8 million people in the UK aged over 55.

Often older people are on the platform to keep in touch with family.  (source: Statista).


It’s a place where the traditional media now is

20190412_115220As newspapers sell less print papers their digital reach has grown. Reach plcs’ Marc Reeves points to the Birmingham Mail’s 20,000 print copies and its online audience being 40 times larger through Birmingham Live’s 350,000 subscribers and its other Facebook footprint.

That huge.

It’s a place where video is watched without sound

5515357437_c66170f51d_eVideo is an important driver for traffic on your page or profile. But 85 per cebt of content is watched without sound. Why? Because people are out and about or at work or sharing a sofa with someone watching TV. (Source: digiday.)


It’s a channel that’s predicted to rise in the UK

42968901272_02233ed7d1_bResearch suggests that Facebook is not going away any time soon. It predicts a rise in Facebook use in the UK to 42.27 million by 2022. (source: Statisa). That means its going to get more important and not less.


I’ve helped train more than 2,000 people from 300 organisations over the past four years. For more on VITAL FACEBOOK SKILLS workshops near you click here. Or give me a shout by email dan@danslee.co.uk.

Picture credits:

Cars Documerica / Flickr Graph Marco Verch / Flickr  licence Facebook magnifying glass Tim Reckman / Flickr.  Map stevep2008 / Flickr Target Tony Webster / Flickr.  Flowers and logo mkhmarketing / Flickr  mkhmarketing. Old couple Stannah Stairlifts / Flickr. Logo Ryan Adams / homedust.com. Silent film Mia Kunro / Flickr



Original source – The Dan Slee Blog » LOCAL SOCIAL: Is it time for a Local localgovcamp?

Fast growth is tough. It’s uneven. Disproportionate growth in some areas, puts strain on others which then need to catch up. It brings lots of challenges and frustrations but you’re also excited about what comes next.

I could be talking about teenagers…  but I’m talking about my experience of being part of dxw’s growth. This week marks my 2 year anniversary here and during that time we’ve grown from 25 people to nearly 60. 

The fact I’m talking about it is a spoiler that everything is  going ok. But I want to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

dxw digital’s office in Hoxton Square

One overriding principle – trust in your company values

Growth introduces new people and new behaviours and starts conversations about new ways of working. All of which are fundamental to a healthy team. If you’ve hired lots of smart, enthusiastic people then it’s likely that there’ll be lots of pretty wide-ranging ideas about what you should be doing.

You can’t act on all of them. It’s important to use your company values as your anchor and refer everything back to them.

Put yourself out there – even if you don’t know where there is!

2 years ago, dxw was predominantly a white, middle class and male-driven organisation. To build services real people use, we needed real people to help us build them. We knew we needed a much more diverse team.

At the time, our recruitment just wasn’t reaching the right people. We had to take some bold actions and step out of our comfort zone into forums and networks we didn’t really know much about. 

We sponsored events and stood in the corner looking utterly lost. We attended recruitment fairs and stood in the shadow of ASOS and Tesco.  We started advertising in new places, only to be met with a wall of silence!

It was sobering and expensive at times, but we did have some success attracting people to our mission who wouldn’t have known about us before. Crucially, we started to learn and gather momentum.

Although there’s still plenty more to do – we’ve just launched our Returners’ Programme, for example – we’re now pretty proud of our increasing diversity. For the first time, we have roughly the same number of women and men working with us (we’ve almost trebled the number of women at dxw since 2016).

People over process – mix up your approach and iterate it

The easy thing to do when you’re faced with a daunting recruitment plan is to double down on process. Get the cogs lined up and crank the wheel.

While it’s important to get your processes working quickly and smoothly, it’s a mistake to focus just on that. The diverse range of skills and experiences we’re looking for has meant we’ve needed to iterate our approach to give all candidates the best possible opportunity to show their talent.

We’ve tried a number of approaches, for example, for our work simulation activity (the last stage), sometimes giving candidates advance notice of the task, and at other times, a mere 15 minutes if that’s a better fit to the vacancy.

We always offer an informal lunch with some of the team after the worksim. That suits some people, and helps them get to know us better, but not everyone feels comfortable with that so it’s entirely optional.

Above all, we always think about how to put people most at ease. Basically, put people over process wherever you can.

Culture is great… but things need to change

This is tough one. Long before I joined 2 years ago, dxw had a reputation for openness with a “great culture” (see exhibit A: the dxw playbook) centred around our values.  But whilst many of our organisational behaviours have remained, some haven’t aged that well as the company has tripled in size.

We’ve put a lot of emphasis on building an inclusive culture, and leaders need to constantly reaffirm and nurture that, particularly when change is continuous.

The trickiest thing has been creating an environment and the space for people to feel comfortable to challenge something that’s the “norm”, and not necessarily broken but needs refreshing. That’s even harder when the people who are the best gauge of these things, are often the ones who have just joined us.

In our delivery projects we don’t settle for “just ok”, nor do we accept excuses of “that’s how we’ve always done it” from clients. So we don’t accept this of ourselves. Each Friday is a ‘dxw Friday’ where everyone works together on the things they want to fix. We also have an annual retreat and regular company-wide retros where everyone owns the agenda and actions. But we need to keep reviewing these approaches all the time.

As we continue to grow, I want us to get better at fostering an environment where new joiners not only ‘get’ our culture, but feel they can contribute to it straight away.

Can you help?

I couldn’t sign-off without a plug. We’re still recruiting! If you’d like to join us and help us keep doing things better, please get in touch. Our current vacancies are on our website and we welcome general approaches too.

The post Fast growth is tough appeared first on dxw digital.

Original source – dxw digital

Craig Abbott talking to a group of people about accessibility. On the display screen next to him is a presentation slide with the words 'Start with user needs' written on it.

Craig Abbott, DWP Digital, who will be speaking at Leeds Digital Festival 2019

We’re really excited to be holding a day of tech talks at this year’s Leeds Digital Festival! If you’re interested in how we’re using design, data and technology to tackle some of the UK’s biggest digital challenges, come along and find out more.

The tech talks take place on Wednesday 1 May at Hippo Digital, 24 – 26 Aire Street, and tickets are available on Eventbrite at the links below:

You can just come to 1 event or all 3 if you like – it’s entirely up to you.

What to expect

The first tech talk kicks off 10am with a session from Euan Gillespie, Head of User Research. Euan will give an introduction to User Research in a government context, covering approaches, techniques, and common challenges – all framed around case studies from DWP projects. He’ll also share his tips on developing a User Research community of practice.

Then it’s over to data scientists Penny Pegman and Paul Ainsworth whose interactive session will demonstrate how we’re using data visualisation to enable evidence-based decision making when developing and improving our digital services.

Finishing up the day is Senior Interaction Designer Craig Abbott, who will talk about how to design accessible services that don’t disable people. He’ll give examples of things that have tripped him up in the past as well as suggest tools to help test designs.

And in true Yorkshire style, there’ll be time to have a brew and a chat with the presenters following each session!

Techin’ it north!

We’re really passionate about being part of the growing digital community in Leeds. Our buzzing digital hub in the city centre is full of digital professionals working together to make DWP’s services simpler, faster and more user-friendly.

Over the next year we’ll be recruiting over 130 digital specialists into our Leeds hub, so the day is also a good opportunity to find out more about the roles we have on offer.

Most of last year’s sessions sold out really quickly, so make sure you register for your free tickets today.

Original source – DWP Digital

No-one is a bigger advocate of the wealth of opportunity that the internet offers than me. However, we do have to acknowledge that the internet also opens people up to risk. Technology evolves, transforms, and innovates at a speed that legislation just isn’t keeping up with. This why I am largely supportive of the hotly anticipated Online Harms White Paper, released earlier this week by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office (what do you mean that “we don’t all hotly anticipate government white papers!?”)

This White Paper is the government setting out its policy to tackle “online harms” such as extremist content, “fake news” (or “disinformation”, as it’s referred to in the paper), child abuse and other elements of the internet that put many people off using it altogether. As a result of this White Paper, internet companies could be fined, or even blocked, if they fail to tackle issues on their platforms. They are hoping to do this through establishing an independent regulator who will draw up a code of practice and giving it the power to fine non-compliant companies – including possibly fining their chief execs – or block sites that break the rules.

There are concerns about freedom of speech implications, however, when looking at the paper from the view of encouraging digitally excluded people to get online and enacting social change through digital, it’s hard to see this as anything but a positive step forward.

It’s important that whilst online harms are taken seriously, that they are understood. One in five non-internet users don’t go online because they don’t trust the internet, or don’t feel it’s online or secure. The internet can be a frightening place, especially for those with low self-confidence in using technology. However, letting fear of the dangers of digital stop someone from using it or, in the case of parents, restricting childrens’ use, is counterproductive to their life chances and the potential for our society and our economy.

The benefits of digital far outweigh the dangers. The economy is becoming more reliant on digital and digital skills are increasingly becoming vital for competing in the job market – and on top of this, people can save £744 a year by just being online and being able to shop around better for goods and services. Those who are shutting themselves off from the online world are putting themselves at a disadvantage, and we need to tackle why some people are frightened of the internet and how we address these concerns.

One recommendation I’m particularly excited is the Empowering Users section, where Government sets out its plans to help people tackle online harms, through giving them the online media literacy to manage their own online safety. In this section, the needs of adults (and children) to be able to practice online safety are acknowledged

“However, for adults, there is insufficient messaging or resources covering online media literacy. There is a need for further work to address issues such as the sharing of disinformation, catfishing (i.e. luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona), attacks on women online (particularly public figures), and the differing needs of people with disabilities when navigating information.”

At Good Things Foundation, we know full well just what a concern online safety can be for people who are digitally excluded. Because of this, we’ve developed a number of internet safety courses on our Learn My Way platform, which helps people tackle online harms. We know better than anyone that media literacy support is incredibly helpful for adults for a number of reasons, and especially tackling online harms. If we want to truly unlock the potential that a fully digital UK could offer, then we need to bring about a society with higher levels of digital skills, and less technophobia  – an important pillar in bridging the digital divide, that we are so passionate about.

Original source – Helen Milner