Weeknote 16 for 17–21 January 2022

Feeling restored, vulnerability, collaborating for better outcomes and thinking about what’s next

The beach in St. Petersburg on my last day in Florida over the holidays.

Things I feel good about

Content strategy cohort 3

We’re kicking off our third cohort of content designers who want to develop a content strategy for their product or service this quarter. We’ve got 9 signed up, which is great. And there are a few nice differences this time.

Plans for joining up all of design standards

In the old days, content and design were separate — and in many ways, and in many departments, they still are separate things. But as the head of content design, I’m clear that content design is part of design! I know I worry about words more than other people, but they do matter.

Welcoming our Head of Delivery

Jill! It’s so wonderful to have someone back in the Head of Delivery Management role. As a Lead DM she was amazing, and I have no doubt she’ll be even more fab in this role. Her enthusiasm is really infectious.

Things I’ve learned

Be more vulnerable

Interesting about how feeling restored can make you open to feeling more vulnerable. This week I had my first coaching session as part of the Future Leaders Scheme. I really liked my coach’s style — he’s clearly done some amazing things in his own professional career, but he wanted to put the focus on vulnerability. And when you need to lean in to your own vulnerability, that’s when you can really find yourself and your role as a leader.

What I need to feel good and productive

I went into the office this week, before we’d been given the guidance that ‘work from home’ has been lifted. I realised, in this New Year, that it is not good for me to be at home every single day. I need to be in the office at least once a week — it’s great for interacting with colleagues, and getting my step count in! This might not be what everyone else needs to feel good though.

Sharing the x-govt love

I posted on Twitter on Thursday about how I helped out as design assessor at DIT, as they’re building out their own capability for internal assessments. It was a great experience.

User-centred design AND delivery

I am happiest when I’m busy and delivering good work. I love my job, but I am missing the opportunity to deliver services directly to users. So much of my job is about helping others deliver services directly to users, which is wonderful. But right now, I don’t have the levers to make the changes I want to make or to implement the type of user-centred delivery that I think could make a huge difference to DfE. But at the same time it’s a bit scary too! But I think I need to try. Something for me to think about more.

Things I read that I liked

It’s almost 10 years old, but it was recommended to me by my coach this week: Brene Brown and how ‘vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change’

Things I’m doing next week

Interviewing Senior Content Designers

We’re interviewing next week for a Senior Content Designer in our National Careers Service. It’s exhausting, but exciting too.

Getting our next content design capability survey out the door

Last year, when I first started in the role, we worked together as a community to benchmark our content design capabilities, which informed our profession roadmap. It’s time to run it again and see how we’re doing! Last year we had the input of 1 senior content designer, and this year we have 8 of them inputting.

Thinking about my personal KPIs for this year

Independently of my objectives and key results at work — what does good look like for me? Where do I need to improve to keep growing and developing? Something to think about. Last year it was about observing user research and meeting new people at DfE. I’m thinking those should continue, but what else should I consider? Grateful for thoughts.



User-centred design and service delivery leadership.Head of UCD. @hmctsgovuk, formerly @dfe_digitaltech @explorewellcome @explorify @tradegovuk.

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Jen Staves

User-centred design and service delivery leadership.Head of UCD. @hmctsgovuk, formerly @dfe_digitaltech @explorewellcome @explorify @tradegovuk.