Over the last couple of years we have been learning and practicing human-centred design as a way to approach organizational change, working on various projects with groups of systems leaders from across our councils and partners in health and the third sector.  At the same time, we’ve also been developing our approach to digital service development here at Adur & Worthing, learning and improving as we go, building the capability and capacity to design, build and maintain modern digital services for ourselves.  

We believe that learning how to adapt, change and innovate is crucial for maintaining and improving services to our residents, communities and businesses, and we’re pleased to have made some good progress that we’d like to share.

We have been very careful at Adur and Worthing not to ‘launch’ a new change management model, or drop an ‘innovation lab’ in from outer space.  That never seems to go well.  Instead, we have been gradually developing simple, helpful and inclusive practices to help our change work put clear focus on service and staff user needs, and these methods have helped deliver a wide range of benefits that we will share in forthcoming blog posts.

From short, open access workshops, through to large scale multi-agency service design projects, many people in our organisation and our partners have now had hands on experience of service design and participatory practices.  There is a real sense that this is the way we do things, rather than a “corporate model” to be wary of.

Two years in, it seems the right time to start sharing our work, describing in more detail the way we approach our projects, and the tools we use.  We think the combination of applying systems leadership, organizational development, service design and low code digital development has given us some valuable experiences and learning we’d like to share, and we are keen to continue our learning journey in the open.

What’s in a name?

As we’ve talked here together about the work, and what lies at the heart of it, one phrase kept coming up.  Very simply, people find it incredibly valuable to get into the same room and work together on challenges. With skilled facilitators and participatory methods, we see relationships strengthened, new insights emerge and appetites to collaborate grow quickly.  So we’re now calling our service design and digital practice SameRoom to help bring the basket of methods and mindsets together more.  We’re sure our definition of SameRoom will be continuously re-defined as we learn what skills and capabilities are needed for organizational change in the 21st century.

Our first blog posts are about a really inspiring project looking at how our local system might work together better to prevent homelessness.  I’m looking forward to reading the varied work of our teams and services over the months ahead, and welcome comments, views and shared stories from readers that will help us all learn.