NHS Digital is transforming health and care services in a fast-changing digital age. You can read more about this on their blog as they ‘work out loud’.
NHS Digital delivers national IT, systems and infrastructure from its Digital Delivery Centre in Leeds – a working space that clearly speaks to its values. A visit to the Digital Delivery Centre this week provided insights into these values and what makes teams work well. Here are five top takeaways.
1. Collaboration is enabled
When you enter the space, it is striking how open it is and how people are enabled to collaborate. Teams that need to collaborate co-locate whenever possible and there are breakout spaces where people can work together. There is a reliance on guidelines and standards, so having the right people in the space and enabling them to connect is essential.
2. Agile working works
Teams work in an agile way. This means they build products/systems/software rapidly in short ‘sprints’, releasing developments as soon as possible so that they can be tested and developed further. It is important to ‘fail fast’ so that teams can quickly exclude anything that doesn’t work well. Crucially, ensuring people who are empowered to act can come together to make decisions leads to more efficient ways of working.
3. Openness makes things better
There are large whiteboards in the space for working out loud. This allows teams to hold stand ups (instead of longer sit down meetings). It also means it is easy to understand what everyone is working on. People gather around the boards sharing knowledge and experience while collaborating on the problem in hand. Dashboards are also visible so everyone can see progress.
4. Cross-disciplinary teams deliver
Teams are structured around expertise for the work that needs to be done. This includes a Spotify tribe/squad type model for cross-disciplinary teams. Cross-team working is key to effective collaboration and ensures systems and services are joined up.
5. Focusing on user needs is fundamental
User research and co-designing with users is vital because teams must know that they are delivering the right things with minimum waste. Visible on the walls and whiteboards are detailed personas. These reveal insights into people who use the services and makes clear their needs. Designing using prototypes to get early feedback and working with real people ensures user needs are met.
There is much any team can learn from these ways of working.
Thanks to Emma Harvey, head of product at NHS Digital, for hosting a tour for our group from the University of Leeds.