In March, our team at Public Health England (PHE) wrapped up a discovery phase, exploring how to support children and their families on healthier weight journeys.

Helping families follow healthier lifestyles, including reaching a healthier weight, is a national priority. Currently, the number of children with excess weight across England is increasing, with over a third of children leaving primary school above a healthy weight.

PHE is exploring how a digital approach could help deliver the goals of the national child obesity plan. Read more about the discovery research and outputs in our previous blog.

Central to our discovery was looking at this complex problem from the users’ perspective and bringing together both design and behavioral insights practices. This work showed PHE’s commitment to excel together, uniting academics, subject matter experts and policy officials in a multidisciplinary design-thinking team.

Meet the discovery team

Photographs of the Discovery team

PHE engaged Uscreates, a service design agency that focuses on improving health and wellbeing, to help form an integrated, multidisciplinary team. Our team was a mixture of experienced design thinkers and scientific experts.

Pooling our expertise

This work gave us the opportunity to blend the team’s wide and varied experience.

We began by reflecting on the existing approaches to motivate and support children and families in seeking and sustaining healthier lifestyles.

We shared what we knew about the situation, listened to each other and worked towards a common understanding. This helped us form a shared vision and highlighted important areas to explore with families. Applying user-centred design methods, we quickly found ourselves bouncing ideas around, developing our understanding and challenging our assumptions.

Team members with experience in design thinking guided ethnographic research with 10 families with children above a healthy weight. This gave us an understanding of and empathy with the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of increasing childhood obesity rates, at least in the families we spoke to.

We used behavioral science and design methods to synthesise and interpret the findings, understand the families’ needs and map out their journeys. We then used co-design methods with the families, helping them come up with their own ideas that might best meet their needs.

Challenges and successes of the approach

PHE is in a privileged position to combine subject matter expertise from across the public health space with design thinking.

As in any project involving new ways of working, this work had its challenges. These included:

  • helping teams think differently and prioritise agile ways of working – this includes flexibility on resourcing and seeking approval on business cases when the final product is currently undefined
  • working at pace while colleagues were stretched over multiple projects. We worked hard to protect the team’s time and focus, maintaining momentum and making timely decisions. We worked sprint by sprint, shifting resources and activities to keep the project moving and delivering
  • finding work space, which was in short supply at both PHE and Uscreates. Uscreates provided a collaboration space for show-and-tells, retrospectives and milestone workshops. Both organisations are within a 25-minute walk of each other, which helped us collaborate during the discovery phase
  • language and communication styles, including discipline-specific language
  • enabling the team to embrace design thinking and the Government Digital Service (GDS) approach to discovery research – especially the uncertainty and openness of the process

But as well as the challenges, we had some great successes:

  • creating a cohesive, collaborative multidisciplinary team composed of design-thinking, subject matter experts, and academics. We worked as one united team, rather than as disjointed individuals or departments
  • adding different viewpoints to the GDS-styled discovery phase: it has become something new, and not simply derivative
  • upskilling Lisa Thompson, from the Diet and Obesity team, in product management
  • breaking down communication barriers, including digital jargon, to find a common language
  • securing buy-in and engagement from across the healthcare system. This included government and NHS colleagues, local council commissioners, and providers of child and family weight management services. We conducted in-depth interviews with experts, ran fortnightly show-and-tells and met with a senior stakeholder group each month to share learnings and gather early feedback
  • completing the discovery phase and passing an in-house service assessment run by the Department of Health and Social Care

Discovery team working together

Designing user-centred services in public health

To deliver public health in a digital world we need to harness and create novel, non-traditional partnerships across government, academia, the technology industry and scientific bodies.

PHE Digital Strategy, 2017

There’s a growing need for multidisciplinary teamwork in public health, particularly as we grapple with ingrained cultural and social factors that keep families from living healthier lives. PHE is using its skills and knowledge across disciplines to design comprehensive, personalised services – making the most of the fast-paced technology that’s already changing people’s lives.

Our approach combines the blossoming field of service design with established life and behavioural science approaches. This lets us navigate the complex health landscape, while also keeping the focus on creating services that work for the end users.

Designing public health services that meet the needs of different generations and sustains changed behaviours is a major challenge – but it’s also a fabulous opportunity. By grounding approaches in user needs, we can better understand how to help families across England as they embark on healthier weight journeys.

In short, we’re changing our approach to designing health services: not just making them for users but designing them with the users themselves.

Join our team

Service design is relatively new at PHE. We hired our first service design lead, Cate Care, and started building a fully fledged service design team last year.

If you’re interested in learning more or joining our grassroots movement – using service design to address public health problems – get in touch with or

If you’d like to learn more about the outputs of the discovery phase for this project, get in touch with Product Manager

Original source – Stephen Hale

This week is Digital Leaders Week, created to celebrate and showcase the best digital transformation across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

One of the events taking place is the DL100 Awards, where our own Digital, Data and Technology Profession team has been shortlisted in the Digital Team of the Year category.

To mark this special week, people from across the Government Digital Service reflect on the role that digital leaders can have in transformation and the qualities a good digital leader should have.

Simon Everest, Service Owner, Standards Assurance

Portrait of Simon Everest
"I’ve been really lucky to work with great digital leaders in my time in GDS. Leadership isn’t constrained to specific roles or grades, but is an attitude and approach to the problems we’re all trying to solve for users of government services.

"The best digital leaders are humble and collaborative, yet ambitious and creative. Paul Downey’s development of GOV.UK Registers, John Abbott’s transformation of HM Land Registry and John Fitzpatrick’s passion and energy at the Ministry of Justice are all great examples of inspiring digital leaders who have made a significant difference in their organisations, for their users.  

"They have vision and a great understanding of user-centred digital service development and agile ways of working. This is combined with an ability to inspire, trust and learn from the teams and specialists around them.”

Emily Ackroyd and Hazel Hobbs, Directors for Strategy and Engagement

Portrait of Emily Ackroyd and Hazel Hobbs

“Digital leadership is not about understanding specific technologies, it’s about understanding people. It’s about setting aspirations, creating culture and building capability.

"The leaders we admire and who are transforming services across the public sector – from Universal Credit to our courts and borders – do 3 things brilliantly.

"Firstly they give teams the space to be disruptive and creative: increasingly leaders need to change the organisation around them rather than just work within structures created for a different age. That requires permission to challenge, try new things and learn from when things don’t work.

"Secondly they work in partnership with others – the GovTech Catalyst programme is a good example. This is about working with business and tech entrepreneurs to define and solve the most important policy and operational problems, not inviting others in to deliver after the service has been designed.

"Thirdly they are comfortable with ambiguity. What we have realised working at GDS is that digital and data innovation is going to continue at pace. This means being humble about what you don’t know and embracing the need to constantly learn and change.

"And one thing that is critical in the public sector is that we lead inclusively and insist on having diverse design and development teams. We can only serve the needs of all citizens if our teams are reflective of society. We’ve been inspired in our role as part of the Digital Leaders Advisory Board by the brilliant young leaders who are showing the way on mission-driven ways to give everyone the skills to thrive – and we’re looking forward to seeing their work recognised in the Digital Leaders Awards on 21 June."

Nick Tait, Head of GovTech

Portrait of Nick Tait

“Leadership has little to do with making things go faster, and considerably more to do with doing things better. Better for the people doing the work, better for the broad array of stakeholders and better for the users, whose need is being met by the outcomes of the work.

"Doing things better is hard because it presupposes you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. You have to understand and be clear on your goals and your vision, and the outcomes you want your projects, programmes and organisation to meet. And you have to have the trust and explicit support of everyone around you.

"I have had the good fortune to work with many great leaders. By leader I don’t necessarily mean someone who is at the top of a tree, or a hierarchy. Rather, a leader is someone who is open, honest, kind,  and able to carry and manage risk and uncertainty, and in doing these things inspires people to follow them.

"Remember, great leaders are humans too. Some of them have challenged me to look at how and why I am working on a thing in a different light. They have asked me difficult and often searching questions with kindness and support and have encouraged me to be and to do the best I can.

"Great leaders, digital or otherwise, have a strength of vision, a palpable appetite for considered risk and an approachability that encourages discussion and openness. They know when to ask questions, when to listen and when to stand back and let people forge ahead.’’

Jen Lambourne, Lead Technical Writer

Portrait of Jen Lambourne

“For me, good leaders are those who know the difference between stepping in and stepping on toes. Many leaders are quick to give advice, but can inadvertently force out ideas or give the impression that it’s their way or the highway. The best leaders I’ve worked with give teams space to experiment and are quick to admit when they don’t have all the answers.

"I’m lucky enough to be part of both the content and technology communities at GDS. Leaders in both of those communities make a lot of effort to be visible, which is so much more than just working in an open-plan office. They are often still practitioners, involve teams in decisions, discuss constraints honestly, and use their position as leaders to advocate for teams and individuals.

"I’ve heard so many organisations insist their leaders do all this, but GDS is one of the very few places I’ve seen it in reality.”

Sally Meecham, Chief Operating Officer

Portrait of Sally Meecham

“Good digital leaders come in all shapes and sizes, grades and job roles.

"Some of the best digital leaders I have worked with may have initially described themselves as ‘non-technical/ non-digital’. However, what they did do was create a trusting and open culture; actively encourage collaboration and innovation; empower at all levels and provide the tools, technology and processes to enable agile working and end-to-end transformation.”

Tyronne Fisher, Business Analyst, Digital Marketplace

Portrait of Tyronne Fisher
“I have been working at GDS for almost 2 years now, and I have been fortunate enough to experience a passionate organisation driven by great leadership. Enabling an organisation to feel motivated and integral to helping government transform for the better comes from having a clear direction and focus from leaders.

"I have worked with some great leaders who possess great interpersonal skills which have helped to provide clarity about the GDS vision. I think great digital leaders will not only be equipped with a wealth of digital knowledge, but also strive hard to create and maintain a safe working environment which enables you to thrive and be innovative.

"I have seen leaders in GDS place great emphasis on creating the right culture. This has certainly helped me to become more productive and feel comfortable contributing to changing things for the better, to support government reach its desired goals.”

Holly Ellis, Director of Capability, Digital, Data and Technology Profession team

Portrait of Holly Ellis

“A good leader shares their knowledge and expertise to grow the people around them. They provide enough direction but allow teams to make decisions and empower them to deliver. The best leaders I have worked with are those that I have learnt from – that haven’t shied away from giving feedback when it is needed in the spirit of helping me grow.

"Strong leaders have courage in their convictions, front up to the big challenges, and navigate and unblock organisational ‘systems’ to help their teams achieve their objectives. They listen, they support their teams and they lead by example. They also get their hands dirty and get stuck in, in whichever way needed, to achieve success.”

Daniel Sintim, Early Talent Recruiter

Portrait of Daniel Sintim

“I feel that in the digital age, a leader needs to be comfortable and confident with the constant change and evolution of the digital sphere. A successful digital organisation is only as good as the executive chosen to lead the transformation. I think as a digital leader you really have to recognise the power of technology and be able to put tangible plans into action.

"In my opinion, the great digital leaders in the world know how to tap into a diverse range of highly skilled individuals. A good digital leader must also take on the role as a mentor. They should naturally position themselves as an influencer. And above all, their enthusiasm for digitalisation needs to be contagious!”

If you want to find out more about the work of the Government Digital Service, we’re speaking and running workshops at Civil Service Live around the country in June and July and at the Public Sector Show in London on 26 June.

We’re also hiring! To find the latest roles at GDS visit Civil Service Jobs.

Subscribe for updates when new blog posts are published.

Original source – Government Digital Service

Putting your photo and personal information on an online dating site is a hopeful act, whether you’re looking for a lifelong companion or something more… short term. It’s also a show of trust – and not just between you and your fellow users.

You are putting your trust in the dating site to use your personal data responsibly and ethically, and to connect you with people who share your interests and outlook on life.

It’s right then, that as part of an international project on terms and conditions for digital goods and services, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last week concluded an investigation into the practices of online dating sites. The CMA’s advice to consumers and dos and don’ts for businesses make for sobering reading.

It is also a stark reminder of the challenges facing consumers in fast-paced, quickly evolving digital markets – exactly the kind that the recent Consumer Green Paper began to outline and address.

If you’ve ever engaged in the calculus of love, hope and trust, here are some things that might surprise you:  

  • You might not be talking to a real person. Yup, that’s right. One of the CMA’s main ‘don’ts’ for dating sites was to not mislead members by communicating with them via provider-generated dating profiles.
  • There’s probably not as many fish in the (online) sea as your dating site would have you believe. It’s more likely an inflated figure that includes all past and present members across multiple sites.
  • Even if you’ve found true love, or happily opted for a summer of singledom, the dating site is probably holding onto your data. And possibly even still displaying your profile.
  • Your profile may be on sites that you didn’t sign up to. Indeed one troubling aspect of the CMA’s investigation was ‘complaints from people who said they had signed up for sites featuring explicit adult content without realising that they were doing so’.

And one that probably won’t surprise you at all:

  • It’s really, really hard to cancel your subscription and delete your data.

The CMA’s investigation touches on issues that BIT is working on – data ethics, digital market regulation, and trust in online markets. One constant across these issues is the importance of clear, comprehensible terms and conditions, and privacy notices.

We are working with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to investigate how behavioural insights could increase engagement and comprehension of online terms and privacy policies. In light of the CMA investigation, dating sites might find this work both interesting and useful.  

Consumers rightly expect a basic level of responsibility from companies. Unfortunately, this expectation sometimes seems to lead them to ignore warnings or indications to the contrary.

A particularly concerning online study by contract law researchers Adam S. Chilton and Omri Ben-Shahar looked at how participants responded to  a market research survey company, ostensibly representing a dating app, that explicitly stated they would be irresponsible with their data. The app might have been fake, but participants did not know this.

Participants who saw a standard privacy policy willingly disclosed risky behaviour and information about their identity, but so did participants who saw a simplified warning note showing five unexpected – and concerning – items from the privacy policy.

Of course, if people read the privacy policy and terms and conditions for every online service they used, they would likely need to dedicate a significant chunk of their lives to this effort. Privacy researchers Aleecia McDonald and Lorrie Faith Cranor estimated the time required to read privacy policies to be about 200 hours per year per American, worth roughly $781 billion per year. For this reason, there are limits to the buyer-beware logic of helping consumers understand how companies will use their data.

Smarter disclosures are an important first step. Another experiment, this one involving the installation of a fake software package that included malicious spyware, found that summaries did reduce downloads and increase uninstalls of fake programs that contained malicious spyware.

For consumers to give informed consent, it’s critical that they have noticed and understood the parts of a policy that they did not expect, like the fact that their dating profile may be shared on multiple sites. In the long term, we urge companies to test their customers’ understanding of how they use personal data, just as they test engagement metrics in every other area of their business.

We’ll be publishing the findings of our experiments on engagement and comprehension of online terms and privacy policies later this year – sign up to our mailing list to be among the first to read the results.

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

Across the UK Government accessibility should be a part of everything we make and we design. Our sixth design principle reflects its importance – “accessible design is good design”.

Equipment in the accessibility lab
Equipment in the accessibility lab

We want to make sure there are no barriers preventing someone from using something.

However, user research conducted in 2016 showed that we could improve awareness of accessibility and assistive technologies. Angela Collins Rees previously blogged about it.

To help do this, we created an accessibility empathy lab at GDS, which is open to any government or public sector employee.

The lab began a year ago – when GDS first moved to Aldgate – and has been through several transformations already. 

What is an accessibility empathy lab?

We were inspired in part by Facebook’s empathy lab which shows how people with impairments may interact with Facebook using assistive technology.

However, when building our accessibility empathy lab, it was important to us that it had a dual purpose: To raise awareness about accessibility, but also be an assistive technology testing space.

What’s in the lab?

The lab contains the following equipment. A screen reader converts text into speech so blind and partially sighted people can read web content:

  • Windows 7 and Windows 10 laptops with JAWS and NVDA screen readers, Dragon Naturally Speaking (voice recognition and activation) and ZoomText (screen magnification)
  • iPhone and iPad (for using the VoiceOver screen reader and other accessibility settings)
  • Android phone and tablet (for using the Talkback screen reader – being setup)
  • Mac (for using VoiceOver and other accessibility settings)
  • 2 switch devices (for demonstrating keyboard-only access on both an iPhone/iPad and Mac – being setup)
  • A set of goggles that simulate different visual impairments
  • Magnifying glass
  • 2 sound defender headphones to simulate loss of hearing
  • Television screen playing a visual impairments film

Our experience with empathy exercises has been a positive one, with other government departments borrowing equipment. We have seen an increased awareness of the diversity of users and needs.

Staff using the accessibility lab
Staff using the accessibility lab

Why is the lab important?

We realised that while most people have some awareness of accessibility, most people are not familiar with the different technologies and software that people use to interact with online services. It is really easy for people to introduce accessibility barriers without realising.

People often design for the fictional average user, which is usually based on their specific frame of reference.

This lab does not replace the Service Manual nor an accessibility audit. But it allows people to see the variety of technology that people use and do some basic checking themselves. It will not cover all eventualities, but can potentially identify some easy or common barriers that they can fix.

It can be expensive for individual teams to buy equipment and this can also involve a long procurement process. By opening up this lab to anyone from government we can ease these problems and the lab is regularly included on tours of GDS.

The lab’s iterations (and why it changed)

When we knew we were moving into our current workspace at The Whitechapel Building, I was determined to secure an area for an accessibility empathy lab.

Initially, it was just 2 closed PC laptops with the software installed that were not getting much attention. We then changed this to 2 open and always on laptops with JAWS and ZoomText on display, printed information on the software and put up posters.

The posters include the extremely successful Home Office accessibility posters that have been translated into many different languages.

To grow the lab we added equipment such as the glasses and extra hardware.

Currently, we are working with the design team at GDS to improve the lab’s look. Another next step involves adding specific personas as logins that highlight common barriers users face.

The lab will continue to evolve as needs change amongst the organisation and more teams let us know what works and what they need.

How have people used it?

Many internal and several external teams have used the lab so far including Daniel Wintercross, a Digital Delivery Lead at the Cabinet Office. His team adapted Register to Vote as a result of the accessibility empathy lab.

An accessibility audit was done using the lab, with the product being tested on a range of different software and hardware. The resulting recommendations helped ensure the service was compliant.

“It was a very helpful and important exercise for the service to undergo and we will certainly do another one in the next 6 to 8 months,” he said.

How to access the lab

If you want to use the lab please email  

Staff member using the accessibility lab
Staff member using the accessibility lab

Do you know any other empathy labs?

Accessibility empathy labs are not commonplace. We were inspired by Facebook’s, but we don’t know of many others out there.

Chris Moore, a Digital Accessibility Champion at HMRC in Newcastle, launched a lab in 2017. The equipment there includes vision loss simulation glasses, a Mac for Zoom and VoiceOver testing and 2 Windows laptops with JAWS, ZoomText and Dragon installed.

He encourages every team working on a service in Newcastle to come and try the lab at least once during development.

In an ideal world every team or every department would have something like this to themselves. However, as this is unlikely, we would love for everyone to have one they can get to within a reasonable distance.

Do you know of any other empathy labs? What would you like to see in our lab? Let us know in the comments.

If you want to find out more about the work of the Government Digital Service, we’re speaking and running workshops at Civil Service Live around the country in June and July and at the Public Sector Show in London on 26 June. Come along to hear from us and talk to us.

Original source – Government Digital Service

We’re all excited to watch England kick off their World Cup campaign this evening against Tunisia. Like workplaces around the country, we will be getting together with a few drinks to celebrate England’s resurgence (…or perhaps distract us from something more underwhelming).

Either way, we should all spare a thought for those sitting their A-levels and GCSEs this summer. Research shows that pupils sitting exams during the World Cup get worse grades, with the effect particularly strong for boys and disadvantaged students.

If you’re a student, parent or teacher, this may not surprise you – you can probably think of many situations where young people care more about the here and now, and less about what today’s decisions mean for tomorrow.

We can think of these moments as self-control failures – an inability to resist immediate temptations (like watching the World Cup) when we’re supposed to be working on long term goals (like achieving good grades).

A one-off lapse in self-control isn’t the worst thing in the world. We do it all the time when we cheat on diets, skip exercise, or procrastinate. We need to enjoy the present from time to time – it’s part of living a happy life. However, low self-control can become a problem when we consistently fail to resist short-term temptations.

A famous example of the consequences of impulsivity is the ‘Marshmallow Experiment’, which found that children who were able to resist eating one marshmallow immediately in order to get two marshmallows later also tended to do better academically and socially when they became teenagers.

A replication of this study recently made headlines as it found these long run effects reduced substantially, or even disappeared, when important background characteristics like family socioeconomic status or early cognitive ability are controlled for. The implications of this replication are that it isn’t self-control per se that influences long run outcomes for children, but that self control is just one of lots of things influenced by socioeconomic status and cognitive ability, which are much more important.

Some have argued this replication shows self-control isn’t all that important for long run life outcomes. It’s worth bearing in mind however that although the marshmallow test is perhaps the most famous study in this area, it is far from the only one. Looking at the broader evidence, self-control in early life appears to be one of the most important psychological characteristics for predicting future success.

For example, a study of 1,000 people in New Zealand, all of whom had their self-control measured in several different ways* as children (rather than just relying on a single, somewhat idiosyncratic measure like the marshmallow test), found that those with more childhood self-control tended to have more health and wealth in their 30s. Other studies examining cohorts of British children who grew up in the 1960s and 70s have also found that the ones with better childhood self-control ended up being less likely to smoke or experience unemployment.

But these studies are all correlational – how do we know self-control is really causing these better life outcomes? One way of answering this question is by looking at studies which try to improve the self-control of young people using a randomised controlled trial (RCT) design. This is where one group of young people get an intervention to increase their self-control, and another similar group do not. Comparing their long-run outcomes can then tell us whether boosting self-control really makes a difference.

Two recent reviews of 90 RCTs provide a decisive answer. These interventions, for example, planning one’s reactions to particular emotional states ahead of time, not only tend to boost childhood self-control, but also translate into improved long-run outcomes including better academic achievement, mental health, and social skills, and fewer problems involving drugs or crime.

So, hard as it may be, for the next month, try not to let the World Cup distract you too much from achieving whatever long-run goals you might have.

One thing that might help is thinking about the tournament from a fresh perspective – namely, by reflecting on the fact that professional footballers tend to have unusually high levels of self-control. Don’t see the World Cup as just an unfortunate distraction to be completely avoided – it’s also a wonderful testament to what people can accomplishment through years of focus and dedication.

*There are many validated scales used to measure self-control. Student grades at school also capture elements of self-control, but it is difficult to untangle them from the effects of general intelligence. Triangulating objective measures like grades with self-report measures and some sort of behavioural measure can offer a fuller picture of people’s capacity to exert self-control in various contexts.  


Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

I feel honoured to have been invited to deliver a keynote speech at the second DWP Women in Digital event on Wednesday 20 June.

James Brooke, Northcoders

James Brooke, Northcoders

For me, diversity, inclusivity and equality are not only important in the workplace, they’re important in the world. I believe that no matter who you are and no matter what your background, you should have equal opportunity to be able to progress in life, enjoy life and create something for the people you love.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where this isn’t always the case, and what’s happening in the workplace can reflect that. So, the workplace is a great place to start to affect the changes we need to see everywhere.

Diversity in business

There’s been a lot of discussion about how diversity is good for business, but I think that just goes without saying. Yes, I believe diversity is good for business, but more fundamentally, I believe it’s the right way to work.

With diversity of ideas, especially if they’re shared and bounced around in an inclusive environment where people feel like they can speak their mind and have a voice, it’s much more likely that the group as a whole will come up with genuinely innovative, interesting ideas.

Women in digital

One of the biggest challenges facing women in digital is that business leaders of the world have allowed us to get from a point in the 1980s where, within tech, gender parity was pretty much equal, to a point now where only 20% of the workforce in tech are women.

The Northcoders campus

The Northcoders campus

That’s not happened overnight. It has been an incremental change where, year on year, anybody who cared about it would have started to notice the trend and anybody who really cared about it would have started the discussions that we seem to be having now, in order to reverse that trend. Except it has been allowed to happen over the years, and because of that the underlying beliefs that caused it to happen have embedded themselves more and more.

And so, for many women – regardless of what we try to do as an industry to say ‘this industry is open to you, it is inclusive’ – there is still the fundamental belief that we don’t truly believe it’s important that we have that level of equality. And that is a worry for me; not just for me running a business, but a worry about the world we are creating both for ourselves and future generations.

A turning point

The industry is now going through a phase where we are creating Artificial Intelligence that is going to be making decisions, not just for us, but for people across the world at scale. And if that technology is only created by white men, then what is certainly going to happen is that the technology is going to, in some way, implicitly be biased towards that group of people.

We have reached a turning point where we need to not just talk about it, but as leaders who are able to affect the change, actually deal with this head-on and do the things that we need to do to affect positive change.

I’m looking forward to working with like-minded people at this week’s Women in Digital event to help ensure that diversity, inclusivity and equality are given the credence necessary to reverse the trend.

More about James and Northcoders

James Brooke is a Co-Founder of Northcoders, a Manchester-based Coding Bootcamp. Following a highly successful career in Software Development, James set out in his ambition to solve the Northern digital skills gap with his partner, Chris Hill.

Find out more about what’s happening with the North’s original Coding Bootcamp. Subscribe to the Northcoders blog or follow their journey on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Find out more about DWP Digital 

You can find out what’s happening in DWP Digital by subscribing to this blog and following us on Twitter @DWPDigital and @DWPDigitalJobs.


Original source – DWP Digital

Back in February, as you may remember, we announced an evening of celebration in London for WhatDoTheyKnow’s tenth anniversary.

And then it snowed, public transport ground to a halt, and we made the tough decision to call the party off.

But it was only ever a postponement. Now we’re in a more temperate season and we’re determined to get this milestone celebrated! We’ve rescheduled, and we’re looking forward to an evening of talks covering the project’s past, present and future, not to mention chat, drinks, nibbles and the best FOI-based playlist you’ve ever heard.

If you’d like to come and join us for this event in London on the evening of July 3rd, please email Gemma. Spaces are limited so let us know asap if you’d like to attend.

Image: Gaelle Marcel

Original source – mySociety

The Digital Outcomes and Specialists 3 framework agreement is scheduled to come out this July. But how can suppliers make it a success?

Digital Outcomes and Specialists webinar

A total of 2,018 suppliers feature on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 2 framework and 94% of these are SMEs. Some of those SMEs are very successful, 35% to be exact. But what about the rest?

Join us on 4th of July and hear how you could be winning tenders on Digital Outcomes and Specialists 3.

In this Digital Outcomes and Specialists webinar we will cover:

  • Digital Outcomes and Specialists 101 – are you confident you understand how the DOS framework works? Do you know how buyers buy through it? The team at Advice Cloud are firm believers in “better insight into the framework, means better sales” motto. Advice Cloud’s MD Chris will walk you through some of the basics of DOS and give you their personal top bid tips.
  • How to deal with shoddy DOS tenders  –  Our controversial research last year found that DOS suppliers saw most opportunity notices as lacking in clarity on customer needs, desired outcomes, and budget. We will present our findings and share with suppliers our top Digital Outcomes and Specialists sales tips.

We recently won the DOS 2 tender for redesigning the CCS MISO reporting, and we will pass on our tips of how you can make the most of the framework.

Applying for DOS is not difficult and we don’t pretend it is. Digital Outcomes and Specialist 3 won’t be any different from what we know. You’ll get on there reasonably easily but to win business you will need to play it smart. This webinar is the first start.

A bit about the presenters:

Chris Farthing

Chris has had to eat some humble pie when it came to the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework. Today he is a big supporter of the framework but it wasn’t always like that. His number #1 golden rule is – “Never bid on something you didn’t know was coming”… also known as bidding blind. When DOS came out he was sceptical. But after helping our clients win around £2.5m of COLD opportunities from Lots 1 & 2 including work for some very big departments and the NHS, he certainly changed his opinions. With over 20 years of public sector experience and a DOS supporter t-shirt, Chris has lots to say about it.

Harry Metcalfe

Harry is the founder of dxw digital and co-founder of dxw cyber. In October 2017, Harry created the Great British Digital Outcomes Armchair Audit with the hope to improve the standard of opportunities published on the Marketplace. 2998 votes were cast on 31 opportunities and the results were sobering. They showed that overall, most opportunities are not clearly explained and the reasons for doing the work were unclear. 65% of the opportunities were rated as “generally bad” and a huge 89% were said to contain a phrase that was inappropriate for the work. As dxw digital celebrate 10 years of delivering digital services for the public sector this month, Harry has a wealth of experience and opinions to share.

Original source – dxw

Portrait of Sally Meecham
Portrait of Sally Meecham

I have been involved with GDS, or a forerunner to it, for more than a decade.

Fifteen years ago I was at the Office of the e-Envoy, 10 years ago I was working at DirectGov, 5 years ago I was at GDS – and in April, after period at Defra and the Crown Commercial Service, I returned as GDS’ interim Chief Operating Officer.

Working both at GDS and other public sector agencies and departments, enabled me to see how critical GDS is to digital transformation across government.

Back to the centre

Coming back into the centre is exciting. Returning to GDS provides an important perspective and knowledge of the obstacles departments can face when attempting digital transformation.

When I was last at GDS, I was a Transformation Lead with the DVLA, working on its end-to-end transformation of services. Back in 2014, I blogged about the then new digital ‘View your driving licence information’ service.

Since then GDS has, naturally, changed and developed.

An awareness of just how demanding transition can be is something which has certainly grown since I was last here. Now there is more appreciation of how the entire organisation – not just a few committed individuals – needs to be on board for successful digital transformational change to happen.

In 2016/17, while I was Chief Digital Officer at Defra, we were able to successfully take its online fishing rod licence service from private to public beta. GDS provided us with fantastic support and they helped us develop positive digital change and deliver on this service.

An excellent service can only be delivered by the right people with the right skills, but also the right finance, right environments etc. in which to work. So that’s why recent publication of the The 7 Lenses of Transformation is really important.

It identifies that in order for brilliant services to be created, the whole organisation needs to think of themselves as part of the delivery.

This leads to one of the things I like most about GDS and something which hasn’t changed: its role in supporting departments. Its position at the centre of government means it can understand the transformational challenges that departments and agencies face and is there to support that.  

A new development for me was the creation of the GDS Academy, formerly the DWP Digital Academy. It is one of the key ways that GDS can support these complex changes across government.

There is an urgent need to build digital, data and technology skills and capabilities in departments and agencies, and the GDS Academy provides support in both basic and advanced digital skills. This will enable places to create their own transformation.

Equal opportunities in tech

We need to lessen the gender and diversity imbalance that exists across both the private and public technology sector.

When I started out in digital nearly 20 years ago, I was thrilled by the opportunity of technology developing more equal opportunities. I would not have imagined all these years later there would be the disparity we see today.

GDS has a gender-balanced senior management team, but GDS’ Director General Kevin Cunnington and the senior management team are constantly looking to address issues of inclusion and diversity across the whole of the organisation. For example, we have a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representative on every interview panel.

Being an interim COO

I am keen to ensure we become better at talking about all the brilliant digital services we help departments to deliver. I want to demonstrate that GDS offers value for money and quality products.

We are putting monthly reporting in place and have built Dashboards to help update our reporting processes. The business operations teams will provide the tools and support to ensure a common way of working across GDS and these dashboards assist this goal.

It’s been wonderful seeing familiar faces, but it’s also been a real thrill to see all the new people who have joined GDS and what fantastic skills we have here.

It’s great to be back at such an exciting time for GDS.

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Original source – Government Digital Service

Many employers want to make real improvements  to gender equality and diversity, but choosing which actions to implement can be challenging. There’s a gap between established practice and evidence.

For example, employers could be forgiven for thinking that adding one woman to a shortlist is an effective way to hire more women into senior positions  – but a recent study from academia suggests that if there is only one woman on a four-candidate shortlist, there’s a 0% chance she’ll be hired.

This shows that much of what we assume will work to improve gender equality may not actually be effective. Outcomes can be counter-intuitive, and positively-intended actions can even backfire if they activate stereotypes rather than change behaviour.

The good news is that we’re starting to build a picture of what is likely to work, based on existing evidence. Last week I presented some of the latest evidence on what works – and what doesn’t – at our Gender and Behavioural Insights launch event.

We’re also preparing evidence-based guidance for employers as part of our collaboration with the Government Equalities Office. Subscribe to our mailing list to be among the first to read it.

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team