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The roundup. November 2018

This is the first monthly roundup I’ve written since July. The summer, and moving into autumn, was an incredibly busy time with a new baby at home (see May 2018 update) and lots going on at work.

So let’s jump to November.

There has been a lot of change happening. Back in October Uscreates joined FutureGov. Uscreates are a leading service design agency specialising in health and wellbeing.

This is fantastic news as it enables us to grow faster and gives us the opportunity to focus on health alongside our established work in government.

It’s a very exciting time looking forwards, but, being completely honest, being part of a team managing a process like this creates a lot of uncertainty so it’s not been the easiest few months. Massive credit to Dom and Matt, our COO Susan, and especially Zoe and Mary (on the Uscreates side) for getting everything agreed and finalised.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that people need time and space to adjust to change. You can’t force this – I’ve been talking about the need to “let the dust settle” and to give people the space to work out their roles and work together. Organisations are made up of people and I think you need to have a lot of empathy for each other at times like these.

It will take time, but I’m certain that good things are ahead next year.

A new role – becoming FutureGov’s Chief Design Officer

I joined FutureGov as Design Director. The ask was to lead design in the company and to run the design team. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 16 months.

With Uscreates joining FutureGov, I’ve now moved into a new role of Chief Design Officer. This role is still part of our management/senior leadership team but changes the emphasis of my day to day work.

The biggest change is it means I won’t be running the day to day operations of the design team. This took up a lot of my time before with a growing team. I’m really pleased that Mary (who co-founded Uscreates) is now FutureGov’s Design Director – the team is in good hands and I’m looking forward to us working together.

I’m optimistic about the time this change of role gives me to focus on other things, especially the shape of design and the work we do as a company. It’s also my intention that I won’t be working in London as much – in reality the time to run design operations has required more of my time in the office here than I first anticipated, which has been a stretch with family and the travel commitments this brings.

I intend to blog more openly about my new role as it takes shape next year. Like everyone else I need time to adapt and adjust to how I work with a new expended team as part of a growing company.

Project highlights

Over the past few months I’ve been supporting a number of pieces of client work and projects.

I sit on a number of pieces of work as a senior sponsor, especially helping to shape work with a service design focus. Highlights have included work with Parkinson’s UK, our ongoing service design support work with Essex County Council, and a piece of advisory and support work I’m leading for FutureGov around service design at the Parliamentary Digital Service.

My recent switch of role has already freed up some of my time to visit some of our projects in the North. It was great to visit Grimsby (North East Lincs Council) last week, and Bradford Council earlier this week. Working at FutureGov is brilliant for variation of work and the last few days are a great example – one day I was visiting a waste team in Bradford, then the following day I was working in parliament.

Writing

Earlier this month I wrote a blog post about blogging. I’ve had a really positive response to moving my writing back to my personal website (hollidazed.co.uk).

As monthly round ups have been infrequent, here are a few other posts to highlight from the past couple of months:

Reading

I’ve caught up a bit with my reading recently. Sometimes I get too busy, or just feel busy, so I get out of the habit of reading (it sounds strange writing/reading back that last sentence).

A couple of highlights: I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s new book Dare to Lead, and have finished Hello World by Hannah Fry which is excellent. I’ve also revisited Seth Godin, with his new book This is Marketing (I read a lot of Seth’s writing around 10 years ago and find him an excellent clear communicator).

I’m planning to include these in a winter reading list which I’ll try and publish in the next couple of weeks.

That’s it for this month. See you in December for an end of year round up.

Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.