Why we do show and tells

Every fortnight, in room C309 in County Hall, the Service Design team have what we call a show-and-tell. The format is pretty simple: two or three people stand up and talk through something they’re working on. People ask questions, and sometimes make suggestions. Everyone is welcome.

Introducing the blog

Last week we had four short presentations. The first, led by Nic Ward, took us through the design and development process of this blog, which was delivered in just two weeks. As Jason Kitkat, Executive Director for Corporate Development, explained in his intro, this speed was in part possible because of a very pragmatic approach to creating the site. When you need a simple and secure blogging platform, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

a team presenting in front of a large tv screen

Blue badge, Charging for care, and get me home

Next User Researcher Nick Richmond explained the work done so far on Blue Badge application forms. Content Designer Collette Parnell talked about her review of charging for care pages, and then Amy Ricketts presented her work on ‘Get me home’, a service she is investigating at Colchester General hospital, as a means of helping people discharged from hospital to get home.

Together, these presentations prompted a wider conversation amongst the attendees about the differing accessibility standards being used in adult social care and also around the consent procedures around user research in hospitals.

They are a two-way form of communication

Show and tells are a chance for us to keep everyone up to date with what we’re working on, and get input from other members of the organisation. One of the suggestions that came out of last week’s was that we could try taking our show and tells out around County Hall, and give short presentations about what we’re up to where service teams work. We might try that in the coming months.

We’ve borrowed the culture of show-and-tells from the Government Digital Service (GDS). GDS is a part of the Cabinet Office which was responsible for creating and delivering GOV.UK and overhauling many governmental services. It’s approach has widely been recognised as successful and many governments from around the world have copied it.

Working in the open

One of the phrases that GDS popularised was ‘Show the thing’. The idea is that by prototyping and sharing something you can quickly get valuable user (and peer) feedback that helps inform its future development. Another principle is ‘working in the open’. This blog is one part of our team’s efforts to work in the open.

The idea is if we share your work as we go, we can get feedback on it and quickly get a sense of whether what we’re doing is going to be useful to the everyday person in the street. It’s the opposite of building something in isolation, waiting for the big reveal to find out whether it’s a winner or a dud.

At first working in the open can feel a bit exposing and take a little getting used to. That’s normal. What’s worth remembering, is that this approach is tried and tested, and it’s been shown to be a good way of quickly making services better for citizens. Which is good news for everyone.

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