A year ago I took the plunge and left the Civil Service Fast Stream to take my first steps into the world of consulting with Hippo Digital Ltd. With Hippo having just celebrated their 2nd birthday, I thought I’d take a look back at my achievements from my first 12 months and think about what I can improve.
I’m not the best at doing this kind of retrospective, I much prefer to be thinking about the “now”, but I’ve found this whole process incredibly useful and I recommend anyone reading this to do their own year in focus.
What I’ve achieved
After leaving the safety of the public sector, I quickly found myself thrown right back into the mix at NHS Digital, but with the safety net drawn back. Thankfully, with more scrutiny comes more influence.
During my time there I’ve been lucky enough to get involved in some really exciting work. I’ve led the delivery of a new API to enable NHS 111 professionals to better assist patients who require urgent medication, represented the NHS at the Pharmacy Show and helped my programme to embrace user centred design.
My favourite time there was working with an incredibly small team on “Patient Enablement” — a project with an incredibly large scope. With blessing from our project manager, my colleague and I were given the space to run the project as a semi-autonomous unit with a single goal — to understand how NHS Digital could “make medication[s] more convenient to obtain for patients with repeat prescriptions”. Fighting against conventional wisdom from within the public sector, I was able to get our findings published which I know has already had an impact — with several online pharmacies using this to guide their own research.
After 10 months in the NHS, I decided it was time for a fresh challenge. Since then I’ve been with the Co-op, helping them to develop a brand new business. At the moment it’s all hush-hush, so I won’t say too much, but I can assure you that the service we’re creating will make a huge difference to some people’s lives. I can say, however, that it’s been a really interesting experience to see how other teams work — especially to see how Waterfall and Agile does and doesn’t work well together.
How I’ve changed
I no longer just rely on myself and my immediate time to solve a problem. I’m willing to reach out to my wider network. I’ve found my fellow Hippos a brilliant resource to lean on, always willing to support me when needed.
I no longer wait for opportunities to come to me — I started and finished this year on the front foot, actively seeking opportunities for Hippo, the client and most importantly, myself. From an initial 6 week contract last year, I’ve demonstrated how I (we) can add value and have continuously secured further work. The downside of almost always being billable is not giving myself enough time to reflect on what I’ve done or improve my skills through training. This is something I’m definitely going to work on going forward.
What I hope to achieve next year
I’ve been to a fair number of Agile and professional talks this year, and I’ve always thought that it’s something I’d like to do. I enjoy sharing what I do with blogs,
there’s something about being in the same room as the audience that really gets people engaged and helps the flow of ideas
So this year I’m going to set myself a challenge of at least doing one talk before the end of 2018. I think I can help people view problems in a different way — now I’ve just got to believe I can do it.
I hope to continue working in the private sector where I can help embed the principles of the public sector. I believe that if you want to build a sustainable and profitable business in the 21st century you have to put the user first and shift the focus from driving efficiencies to making your user’s lives better.
The most exciting thing I plan on doing this year is meeting more brilliant people who are passionate about user-centred design. Oh, and tackling some fresh problems— the more wicked they are the better.
How has the last year been for you?