A weeknote, starting Monday 27 March 2023

Paul Moran
5 min readApr 1, 2023

A highlight this week has been my favourite tree in our village doing its springtime thing and bursting into blossom. It’s just visible from our house but I pass it most days on a school run or trip to the local shops. A cherry tree, it marks the seasons so clearly with pink blossom followed by green leaves which turn fiery red in the autumn and then herald winter by carpeting the ground as the weather turns colder.

I make a point of mentally celebrating each of these changes and it feels important to notice some of the small changes in nature given the huge amount of time I spend facing a screen on a daily basis.

It’s important to celebrate some of the smaller wins and progress in our work too and it was good to see some of the work my team have been directly involved in getting shared publicly by the service owner this week. One of the changes aims to solve a problem at source (incorrectly entered mileage), which if unresolved sometimes only surfaces years later when someone tries to sell their car and when people feel a time pressure to get it resolved. Identifying leading indicators of value and targeting work specifically is something that’s really on my mind at the moment and I’m hopeful we’re having a positive impact here.

I’m also reflecting on more positive feedback from my team about how they see our organisational direction and intent to deliver great services. Great to see others spending moments reflecting too.

I’m pleased I made it to the second Service Designers Connect event hosted at Nottingham Trent University. It’s a new event aimed at developing a service design community in the East Midlands. This time round we had an intro to some of the techniques in Liberating Structures and did some speed networking which was a surprisingly easy way to break down barriers and make the group feel more connected. Was really nice to talk to people making a career switch into service design. We need more of you! If you’re in the East Midlands join the group on LinkedIn and come to our next session in May.

And on that note I’m curious about the things that do and don’t make service design and user research attractive roles in the Civil Service and specifically the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Working in an organisation with a positive mission, which recognises the value of user centred design and which offers development opportunities seems like a good sell, but I also know that isn’t everything. As I look at some of our upcoming recruitment plans I’m curious about what else people are looking for in a service design or user research role.

A request for help from Sophie Dennis in attributing an image to the right creator led me back to Sarah Drummond’s Full Stack Service Design – a great resource and something I need to revisit.

I always enjoy seeing what the folks at Co-op Digital are up to and so was pleased to see this blog post about contextual design highlighting the importance of spending time with your users in their environment

This post from the always thoughtful Colin Mobey about being More than the sum of your parts got me thinking about how I find myself talking most weeks about joining the dots between different groups of people. Recognising that in part, team and organisational success comes from building connections between different groups so that knowledge can flow more easily, it therefore means a key part of my role is ‘quantum contextualisation’. I’d never have called it that… To be honest I was expecting Colin to follow it up with an Ant Man reference, but he didn’t go there for once 😆

“ Instead of thinking about what’s best for the user, the fad-chasing is creating Frankenstein tech that makes no sense.”

Having had a few conversations this week about governance and assurance and the government standards for services, this article on Big Tech’s big downgrade made me reflect on the importance of things like the government service standard and the service assessment process for maintaining our standards.

And finally, I liked this short piece of very actionable insight from Daniel PinkStop asking for feedback, start asking for advice. Definitely something I can use in future.

Looking after myself that didn’t feel like looking after myself the next day

I’ve found the best way I can get some exercise into my days is using the virtual cycling app Zwift on my bike. I did my longest ride ever (40.3km) which took a couple of days to get over…

Things that went on the read/listen/watch list but didn’t get read/listened/watched:

Exploring Service Design — Collections of books to inspire thinking and action in how services are designed and run



Paul Moran

Head of Service Design & User Research @ Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency, UK https://linktr.ee/pauljosephmoran