This week has been a good one, our discovery team is starting to form with one of our user researchers joining, and the other one due to start on Monday we are starting to get our plans together for discovery. In some ways the slight delay in starting has been useful as its given me and the PM (who’s also new to this space) the opportunity to really start to understand the context of the area we are exploring.

“User Research”

This week we had 3 more interviews, whilst we have been down UR’s we still wanted to start establishing contacts and exploring some of the themes and answer some of the questions we had to build that knowledge. Inevitably with any discovery your knowledge expands the more people you speak to, and some of the early assumptions I had started to make based on conversations in previous weeks got well and truly smashed. This is why research is so important, my choices about what to do next looked very different last week compared to this week! As with all things, it’s a balance, we need to tread the line between useful insights and analysis paralysis as we progress, I’m not worried about that yet, we haven’t started yet.

On the subject of balance, a really strong theme emerging is that of the balance between demand/speed and patient safety/quality I’ve seen similar challenges in IT helpdesk’s (albeit with much less consequence). The nice thing about these conversations is everyone has reflected on it in a really mature way, both clinicians and operations people understand the challenge and do their best to walk that tightrope together, neither seems to promote one side over another. I have seen happen in other organisations and it usually leads to dysfunction and mistrust. A lot of startups talk about mission and having a shared vision, the NHS is the first place I have seen where that feels kind of real, although its rarely stated explicitly in interviews its clear that providing the best possible care with the resources they have is the top of everyones agenda.

Forecasting rollouts.

The implementation team are getting stuck into managing rollouts of the Streaming and Redirection service with another site going live this week. Rollout is really dependant on a number of actions being done at the hospitals site and this presents a challenge in terms of managing multiple deployments, we have limited capacity to manage rollouts per week (not just the deploy but the ongoing support and response) and with summer coming up this is only going to get more challenging as hospitals want to gear up mitigation strategies before the winter season hits. We’ve been spending some time as a team this week forecasting where different hospitals are likely to go live, we are colour coding them green = certain, date agreed, yellow = we have a pencilled in date agreed with the hospital but theres work to make it certain, red = we are making a stab at a date based on how long we think it will take from the initial kick off meeting. Our data of how long it takes to get from kick off to live is very limited at the moment so our confidence in the red tickets is low. However it’s made us think about messaging to ED’s based on the demand we are seeing and whether exploring a slot based system (have a set number of deploys per week at a predefined time) may work it gives us more control to manage the rollout and sets an expectation on the ED to meet a date, we are having conversations next week to see how viable this is. As always most plans are worthless, but the act of planning is invaluable.


Onboarding our UR seemed to go well this week, as always stealing and modifying Sarah Carters onboarding trello board saved me a ton of time and provides a really great structure for the new person to hang their own notes on, it acts really well as an anchor of information in those first few overwhelming weeks. She said that she really enjoyed her first few days with us so thats a result!

Cross-gov delivery community of practice.

I went to my first cross-gov delivery community of practice, there were 40-50 DM’s on the call and the topic was how to make job applications attractive to candidates ably facilitated by Barry Traish. his led to lots of conversations about what a delivery manager actually is, including classic hits such as:

  • Who’s responsible for delivery?
  • Should the DM unblock the team or coach them to solve their own problems?
  • Teams for products in a project based environment

The conversations were good and there was lots of food for thought, plus it was good to see some familiar faces.

In other news.

Went out on the bike on my own for the first time in a while on Tuesday, it reminded me of how lucky I am to live where I do, I live in the middle of a city, but a quick hop on a ferry or short ride up a road and I’m surrounded by rolling hills, moors and beaches, it was absolutely stunning.

In less great news we found the mother of all leaks coming out of our drain into under the house, dreading how much it’s going to cost and what damage it might have done to the foundations.

Got to spend the day at Devonport Markethall again this week, its not officially open as a co-working space yet but I squatted in the cafe, I love the shed buts its nice to get a change of scene and be around more people now and again, can’t wait for it to open fully next month.