Principles at work

This is based on a few experiences where I’ve openly shared information without considering how it may affect the team. Consider the intended outcome. If it is a piece of feedback, ask the team if they’d like to receive it, when and how.

This came up a lot in the NHSX mental health alpha and care home connectivity work, where there has been a few ‘what are we all doing?’ moments. It helps to pause, ask questions and set some outcomes and goals together. Delivery Manager, Hannah Abdule, is really good at this.

In this example, I was working in a team with a different culture and working style, one that felt hierarchical and less comfortable with problems. Reaching out to this team member improved our relationship going forward. It helped us to practice looking out for each other and showed that mistakes are something we are comfortable with in the team. This is something we encourage as part of the design process too.

Early on in my role at Department of Health and Social Care as the only user researcher there, I’d find myself in lots of service assessments that felt like a test. The first thing I’d say is I’m a researcher like you here as a peer, because I know the service standard and want to help you build something that meets it.

I’m still working on this. Some ways to practice is by waiting until someone has finished speaking, repeating back to clarify what they have said, asking questions and suggesting something as an action to their point.

For example, in the user research team rather than saying ‘this is how we should do incentives’, this is a great ethics topic to discuss together. We have tried anonymous forms and google sheets to submit our challenges, voting on them and tackling the most popular in the community meeting.

In one of our projects, some team members felt it wasn’t a collaboration and we had different ideas of what this meant. Agree expectations early on in a project to reduce confusion later, especially when working together for the first time. These buzz words are sometimes hard to interpret as well!



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Sophie Rankin

Sophie Rankin

Senior User Researcher @ Snook. Openly sharing my ideas, thoughts and experiences to be challenged and to help others, so we can improve our practice together