Last month I hosted a workshop as part of the Public Service Lab, alongside Adam Walther, Project Director at FutureGov. The Public Service Lab is an independent initiative, committed to promoting new ways of thinking inside Germany’s public sector. It brings together like-minded government professionals, including federal to municipal governments, to introduce user-centred work practices.
Since last year’s event, we’ve had many conversations with government professionals in Germany. Something we continue to hear is frustration that change doesn’t happen fast enough. Or, organisations aren’t ready to work differently and are missing the needed support.
In response to these shared concerns and constraints, we decided to focus this year’s workshop on our “top hacks” to sneak human-centred design and agile thinking into everyday work practices. With a bottom-up approach, we can slowly start to change the way we work. The feedback was so positive. I’d like to share these hacks with you.
1. Talk to users
Our users are everywhere. We can find them in a coffee shop, the doctor’s office, on the bus. Everywhere. Strike up a friendly conversation and use a relaxed atmosphere as an opportunity to ask a few questions. If you aren’t yet brave enough to begin a conversation with a stranger, start by observing them. What about the service they receive at the citizen centre? Is it easy and fluid? Are they dealing with obstacles like finding the right room or form, or are there unique features in place to help users? Watch what happens and take notes.
2. Listen more and talk less
More on taking notes: when talking to your users, focus on spending more time listening. Take notes based on what they say. Conversations with users are a great opportunity to learn something you didn’t know, rather than using them to evaluate your ideas.