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Weeknotes 31(17th — 21st June)

I’m slow to Weeknotes this week, and dare I say it, I’m not feeling very energised about writing them anymore. It’s probably time for me do something a bit different in terms of format and content — so lets see where that takes us the first week in July. I’m away from Wednesday to Sunday next week so there won’t be any Weeknotes anyway.

Don’t forget we are hiring. Come and join the team! You can find out more here and I would really appreciate people passing on to others too.

What we’ve been doing

The National Lottery Community Fund is launching a big new theme and funding programme next month (it’s very exciting and important), and on Monday I worked with a few of the team developing it to bring a service design lens to how it’s being delivered. I was also able to share learnings from how we designed the Digital Fund — and what to do, and not do!

I also met up with Kathy Peach at Nesta to learn more about their participatory futures work — I’ve been asked to join the Advisory Group for it. With the Lottery’s 25th Birthday this year there is potentially a really interesting opportunity to engage the public, at scale, in some social dreaming and mass public imagination activity.

On Tuesday I went to a strategic communications course run by Equally Ours. If you’re interested in how to do framing and use behavioural science then they have another one running in September.

Wednesday I was head down in procurement contracts. More on that below!

On Thursday Kamna and I spent some time planning out the Design Day we are doing with hospices next month. From the hospice applications and then the preceding survey and calls we’ve done with them, we’ve divided up the focus of the day into three areas —

  • Basic digital infrastructure — what do they each need to be effective and sustainable organisations, fit for the future?
  • Building the capabilities of hospices around design and digital — what are the practices and skills they need to learn to keep adapting their organisation into the future?
  • The design of new products and services — what are the new products and services that hospices could be developing that make use of what technology now affords?

Also on Thursday I attended another session with the evaluation team who are scoping out new funding for sector support around data & evidence. There is so much overlap between data and digital in terms of what the sector needs, that I’m glad we’re linking up over it.

What we’re learning

I learnt a lot from having my head in procurement contracts on Wednesday. It’s not necessarily helpful because my problem-solving brain now wants to tackle procurement too, amongst the many other things that will need to change for funding to be truly “user-centred.”

Below is just one example (of many) from the 80 page contract that demonstrates how hard it currently is for any organisation working with us to document and publish learning in a timely, useful and transparent way. This is especially painful given that this work is part of a contract to support large social sector organisations to be more adaptive and responsive.

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This is not a criticism of the fund, or the procurement team, who I’ve no doubt will help adapt things as much as is legally possible, but part of a much wider challenge where older systems can get in the way of much needed new practices emerging.

I really appreciated this Tweet from Ben Holliday and the thread that follows it. I am not sure I agree that everything has to be organised around the design of services but I do agree that if there isn’t the mindset shift (which is a lot of what the work is really about), then the “fundamental change” is never going to happen.

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What we’re celebrating

I was very sad to say goodbye to Laura from the team this week. She’s been supporting us with lots of administrative work, helping with events and managing a lot of my travel and diary. I can confidently say that without her the Digital Fund team would not have managed to work through 1200 applications. On a personal level, I feel like she has kept me sane. After 15 years with The National Lottery Community Fund I’m excited for her to have a change though…The Centre for Ageing Better are lucky to have her. I know that if I ever have the opportunity to work with her again, I’d hire her in a snap!

I’ve also been celebrating my Stepdad’s 70th birthday this weekend. He loves his allotment, and building and fixing things like tractors, so I couldn’t resist getting this cake made for him.

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Laura after a lot of fizz. And *the* cake.

Written by

Senior Head, UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund & Co-founder of the Point People. Previously Strategic Design Director at Doteveryone.

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