Weeknote 14th Jul 23 – UX Bristol and a firebreak

We’re on a firebreak sprint at GOV.UK Forms at the moment. It’s a chance to catch up on ‘business as usual’ work that might not normally get prioritised, as well as learning and development.

I spent a chunk of time this last week editing videos of the research sessions I did recently with members of the public completing forms. It was time consuming as they all needed quite a bit of work to anonymise them, but worth it as there is some really useful feedback, both positive and constructive.

We had a full day ‘GDS Learning Day’ event across the organisation on Wednesday, with various sessions for professional development. I found the keynote most interesting – a presentation on how social care data is being used to understand and predict hospitalisations of elderly people. It’s the kind of use of data that is really powerful. I was also impressed with how the data teams are working to not just include but prioritise qualitative and unstructured data from the experience of carers – acknowledging that these are the people who often know patients best and have the most important insights.

On Friday I headed to Bristol for the UX Bristol conference. My old friend Pete Yeomans had invited me to join him in running a workshop there. Pete and I used to work together when we were both in Education, and we drew on this experience to explore some angles of communicating research and involving your team in it. I really enjoyed preparing and delivering the presentation. With Pete working in financial services, and myself in government, we had some good contrasting experiences to share and this led to some really interesting conversations and ideas.

There were also some really interesting conversations on the day, both around our workshop and the others I attended. I met quite a few colleagues from DEFRA, and several people working in commercial settings, with lots of experiences to share. While we have a very positive research community within GDS, Friday reminded me that it’s valuable to also meet people working on completely different projects. I’ll certainly try to do more of that in the future.

We’ve got another week of firebreak next week. I’ll be running some forward looking discussions about research when we reach public beta, catching up on organising some research work to make it accessible, and continuing a course I’ve been doing on SQL for some professional development.


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