Things I’ve learned in my first month at DWP
On the bus home, I realised it’s been a month since my first day - a lot has happened in that time.
The focus of anything “Gov” related is to make things better, to be in the open and to (in my opinion this is key) work together as a team, all are an incredible ask to do and follow, but a challenge that everyone should be motivated to fulfill.
The design team in Leeds consists of content designers, interaction designers, service designers and one of my favourite roles = user researchers.
Group this with BA’s, QA’s, Product Owners and many more - it’s a heck of a set up to get your head around, but 15 years working in this industry… I can kind of guess what each role does, and if I don’t know, I always ask.
The set up varies a lot from Sky Bet, for example, at Sky Bet, User Experience is labeled as a job title, a “thing” exclusive to designers or Experience Architects, whereas here it’s seen as the responsibility of the team and should be vested in everything we do, and if not - someone will (quite rightly) shout out about it.
Also, a huge difference is the size of the work/task - it’s often said that “the most important project of your life will be at DWP”, and 1 month in, I cannot disagree with this - the project I am part of, will affect many millions of people, be them people on the street, to civil servants to the country’s economy.
Am I enjoying it? It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot - it’s very different from my previous roles (removing previous DWP experience), a lot different. My career now is a lot less about the visual side of design and more about design theory, (dare I say the real “meat” of design (yes)?) it’s about designing the service as well as the product, which, at this point in my career is the reason I wanted to take this opportunity.
I also enjoy knowing the work I am doing is giving people hope, making their life better - this was a major reason why I joined the team.
The challenges vary, but as everywhere else it boils down to how do people work together - everyone strives to succeed but how does that work in a team as big as 10-50 people?
One thing I noticed upon my first week here was the amount of intelligence that is in each meeting, this blew me away when I took a step back to listen to what people were saying and sharing their experience, this has validated my decision to join and really makes me want to up my game and share more about my (design) opinions whilst hopefully adding value to the team.
Squad based: are to work on relationships with stakeholders, work on designing-with-the-team and in the open (loudly), always improving communication skills and finding my place/niche/brand in the team.
In the team(s) I am in, this will be easy to do-on-job as there is not a pressure to know the answers or deliver constantly.
Design team based: Focusing on my past experience at DWP and Sky Bet, the want to share and educate the value and need of design (and to just assist in understanding of what-we-do) seems to always be required and I am more than happy to help here - be it within a workshop setting or “doing-alongside” the team.
In short - its an interesting and progressive environment, one where I am fully motivated to assist in and become a valued member of the community and overall team and to really help grow the brand of design and it’s value.