A weeknote, starting Monday 8 May 2023

Paul Moran
4 min readMay 13


An ink drawing of a slightly startled or bemused osprey

First up this week — a big round of applause to everyone involved in bringing the Level 6 service designer apprenticeship to life, creating another route for people to learn and get involved in the exciting world of service design. Thanks to Clara Greo for sharing the news on LinkedIn this week. Really good to see, especially as we explore setting up digital, data, tech and cybersecurity apprenticeship opportunities at DVSA.

Speaking of people working together to help develop the service design profession the Local Government Service Design Maturity model was published this week. A great collaborative effort from people across the country. Congratulations to Henrietta Curzon and everyone else involved. Some other maturity models I’ve also come across which I think will also influence my thinking in coming months as we scale our team and approach across the organisation are the NHS Digital model, the Scottish Approach to Service Design and this one from Koos (via the Service Design Network). I’m sure there are probably more out there.

Thinking about scaling the team I read two things that pair well together on the topic of how we fund teams to deliver work – as projects or as ongoing product teams. The first from John Cutler: Follow the Money (People, Products, or Projects) which made me recall this DEFRA blog post: Funding product teams not projects.

As pointed out in the second post, building enduring teams helps retention of domain knowledge, something that is enhanced by things like research insight libraries. So it was interesting to see Eva Katharina Wolf’s post about keeping track of research findings , which is one of a number of places recently to bring Teresa Torres’ book Continuous Discovery Habits into my eyeline. Now on my ever expanding reading list I’m looking forward to reading that sometime soon.

This problem framing canvas from the Griffiths Centre for Systems Innovation looks like a really helpful tool for helping make sure that teams are focused on solving the right problems. As we develop our internal discovery capabilities at DVSA these are the type of tools we will use.

I also liked this example of zooming in and out when thinking about user needs from Sarah Drummond.

Following the links in Jessie Johnson’s post for the Design Council was a good reminder of the great thinking and tools they have produced, and introduced a new one to me — the Design Value Framework which I’d love to spend some time exploring and seeing if I can plot our work against. It’s likely to take quite some time to actually get around to that though, as well as watching the Characteristics of Changemakers videos I found following the links down the rabbit hole.

I’ve been in a few conversations this week with a strategic leaning. One exploring the role of business design authorities, others during a face to face colleague event in Birmingham introducing our exciting new organisational vision. So it was really interesting to read about the ambidexterity of the US Coast Guard through strategic foresight exercises in this Harvard Business Review article. Using scenario exercises to build alignment and help prioritise important activities in uncertain and complex times looks incredibly valuable.

In the essay Radical design for a world in crisis Anab Jain also talks about approaches to the intertwined climate, economic and political challenges we face:

Given the scale and knottiness of the challenges we face, we see design playing a fundamental role as an intermediary, a joiner, working between the problem-solution dichotomy to uncover practices and tools and approaches that might offer entirely new possibilities.

Thanks to Andrew Knight for sharing that on LinkedIn recently.

Andy Polaine is planning a new book about the transition into creative leadership, a topic which is definitely of interest to me and I’m sure to others around me too. He’s also thinking about writing it in the open which means there may be a chance to contribute. Another book that’s now on my list is Donna Lichaw’s new one: The Leader’s Journey.

I was really pleased to hear an example from my team of how they’ve constructively argued for user centred design when challenged by stakeholders who hold an opinion on how a feature should look. Being able to demonstrate that actual users co-designed the feature with some of our development team in a workshop, and gently reminding the stakeholder that they’re not the user in this case was enough to confirm that the work did not need redesigning and could continue through development in the next sprint.

It was good to get out to a face to face event this week and have some of the different, more impromptu conversations that being physically in the same space allows. It made me look less like the slightly startled/bemused osprey at the top of the page than I normally do after multiple back to back videocalls everyday. That was drawn in some downtime with my youngest, I drew birds, he drew battlecats from his current favourite videogame.


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Paul Moran

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