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LGSS Digital Blog

Service design for local government

Adele Gilpin

Digital Business Analyst

Prototype! What’s the worst that can happen?

Over the past few weeks there have been fantastic blogs from my colleagues Sam and Mitchell about psychological safety and breaking through the silos.

I was struck by how well they complemented each other – after all, if you’re fearful of speaking up and trying new things, then the idea of busting through your silo will be terrifying!

Sam, Mitchell and I are all digital business analysts (BAs) and we need to have the freedom to ‘give things a go’ in order to test and learn, and ultimately design the right things.

An apple a day…

I recently completed a +Acumen course on prototyping and the final assignment was to test a concept that could improve health in the workplace. I wanted to test the idea of setting up a fresh fruit station in Shire Hall’s ‘vending machine room’ as an alternative to all the chocolate and crisps currently on offer.

The stall was very low-frills – it was a prototype after all! We spent about £5 on stock, pitched up in the space and distributed fruit to happy customers for a minimal donation.

We got great feedback and my favourite moment was when we were visited by colleagues in the public health team. They told us that they’d heard on the grapevine that staff were unhappy about the lack of fresh fruit in the room. The team had actually raised the issue at various meetings but hadn’t got anywhere when trying to escalate the feedback internally.

Well that raised some questions for me…

Why had no one thought of just trying it themselves? Are people scared about treading on toes or not going through ‘official channels’? And finally – what’s the worst that can happen? Someone choking on an apple?*

*No-one choked on an apple, as far as I know 🙂

As a BA, having the freedom to take a chance, give it a go and learn from the experience is incredibly liberating and I love it!

Adele Gilpin

Business Analyst, LGSS

The instant fruit station shows the real value in giving it a go. It was very low-risk and low-cost, but the feedback, needs and pain identified within the two hours of being there spoke volumes.
Giving it a go was much more effective than escalating the problem internally, where – let’s be honest – changes can take time to be approved.

Are you big head or little head?

A recent episode of the brilliant Darknet Diaries podcast talked about the recruitment process of Unit 8200, Israel’s own version of the National Security Agency (NSA). Those applying to Unit 8200 take a series of tests to determine if they are ‘rosh gadol’ (big head) or ‘rosh katan’ (small head).

To be rosh gadol means: seeing the big picture end-to-end, taking responsibility and initiative, challenge existing processes, acting first and asking permission later on.

You are better than the system; you make it happen!

Hmmm, sound familiar?

In contrast, to be rosh katan means you are great at sticking to tasks and don’t challenge authority. It’s not a bad thing to be rosh katan, I just wouldn’t advise becoming a BA…

Give it a go!

Organisations don’t disrupt unless their people do and this starts with providing that psychological safety net, so that staff are more likely to give things a go.

As a BA, having the freedom to take a chance, give something a go and learn from the experience is incredibly liberating and I love it!

If you’re not sure how to do this, try asking the service – why do you do it like this? Challenging assumptions often opens up a space for taking them on a journey with you.

Recommendations for 2019

I’m not a great fan of New Year, New Me. Instead, I think you should reflect on your achievements, learn from experiences and fill that blank 2019 diary with FUN! I would however like to start to instil more rosh gadol in myself, my colleagues and the services I work with. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

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