Meet our Service Designers
Learn more about the role of a Service Designer in our User-Centred Policy team from two former Fast Streamers who have recently joined HMRC’s Policy Lab.
Why we joined HMRC’s Policy Lab
We’re Olivia and Jemima, we’re both Service Designers in HMRC’s Policy Lab and we joined the team after graduating the Fast Stream.
Policy Lab is a User-Centred Policy Design team that works to ensure users’ needs are considered and respected at every stage of the policy design process. Through the application of User Centred Design methods, we aim to help policy teams shape policies which are feasible, effective and deliver value for money. We have co-authored this blog to tell you a little bit about why we wanted to join Policy Lab after completing the Fast Stream.
I joined the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Fast Stream in October 2019. During this time I completed various roles across a number of government departments to gain as much experience as I could. These roles included a Solutions Architect at the Department for Transport, a Performance Analyst at GOV.UK, a Product Manager at the Met Police, a Service Designer at HMRC Policy Lab, and finally a Service Designer at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
After my posting with HMRC Policy Lab, I stayed in touch with the team, and when a role became available, I applied and got the job. I then joined the team after passing my Fast Stream End of Scheme Assessment in May 2022.
I joined the Fast Stream in October 2020 and completed placements as a User Researcher in the Ministry of Justice, a Policy & Strategy Advisor at GOV.UK, and a secondment to the Northern Ireland Civil Service as the Digital Strategy Development Manager. My fourth and final rotation was to HMRC Policy Lab as a Service Designer. Two months into my posting, the team were recruiting a Service Designer and what began as a tentative application to practice my interviewing skills ended up with a permanent role in the team.
What does service design look like in Policy Lab?
As Service Designers in a User-Centred Policy Design team, we use design thinking, workshop facilitation and visualisation techniques to frame problems and design solutions. In the Policy Design context, we place particular emphasis on spotting opportunities to reduce cost and complexity. We also work hard to facilitate a shared understanding of both the policy problem and the user needs, for both our team and our policy stakeholders.
Why Policy Lab?
We joined Policy Lab for two reasons: the work and the people. We get the opportunity to work on a range of different types of problems. For example, some projects require working on the ideation stage of how to tackle a new policy problem, whereas others focus on improving an existing process based on user needs.
We work in 3-person project teams of a Product Manager, User Researcher and Service Designer. As Service Designers, this gives us the freedom to plan how to approach the design activities whilst also having constant support from the team to check our thinking. The multi-sited nature of Policy Lab and our stakeholders also gives us the chance to work with colleagues across the organisation and across the UK.
While it was the work and the team structures which sparked our interest in taking a permanent role in Policy Lab, it was the team culture which cemented our decisions. Our Service Design community is the perfect place to develop your skills as a new Service Designer, with a strong focus on learning and development both internally and with other Service Designers and User Centred Policy Design professionals.
Why service design?
There is no one way ‘to do design’. As Service Designers we aren’t working towards producing specific outputs, our goal is simply the creation of a better service. Things like journey maps, service blueprints or workshops are all just things that can help us get there. We both really enjoy having the freedom to choose which tools and methods we think should be utilised in our work.
We also pursued design because it pushes us outside of our comfort zones. For example, neither of us are spectacular artists but we are passionate about the impact visual thinking can have on our work. We are currently learning how to doodle so that we can work in a more visual way with our own teams and stakeholders.
Finally, we both believe that better services are created when they are designed for users; however, we understand that organisations and technology are sometimes constrained by what they can deliver. As designers, we examine the entire ecosystem and help create solutions that provide the best possible outcomes for users whilst considering limitations.
So in conclusion there are many reasons to want to be a Service Designer in HMRC’s Policy Lab!
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