Service Design Community of Practice:

Today, we did our first retrospective in our Service design team at Greenwich after a few months of working together in our community of practice (COP). I thought that sharing our experience might be useful for other newbie teams.

To give you some context, I joined the Royal Borough of Greenwich and our lovely digital team last year in May. Since that, I’ve seen our team grow in terms of capacity, knowledge and kindness. I was the only service designer in the team, but in September, the most energetic and passionate person I’ve ever met, Yu-Hsuan, joined us. We both started to build our little community of practice, and we included our only product designer, Jenny, during our first weeks (now she is building her own COP). In November, our third team member, Shaan, the most knowledge seeker I’ve seen, started to work with us.

The three of us are working on a variety of projects with different teams, and of course, we don’t participate in exactly the same ones. However, we really need our service design discipline space where we can ask for recommendations, advice, support, codify some ways of working and build some patterns that fit into our organisation. This is the reason why we started to work on our community of practice.

To begin with, we established a few things:

  • Our COP purpose, mission, our value, and desired outcomes
  • Start building a library with patterns, which is still a work in progress. In doing so, we decided to include tools and methods that could help us around three service design purposes: 1. build empathy, 2. build relationships, and 3. design seamless experiences.
  • Weekly catch-ups

Throughout this 4-month period of time, we realised that has been very challenging to prioritise time for our COP, however, some routines have been crucial to keep alive our practice and make it a habit:

  • Weekly catch-ups: we decided to schedule every Friday from 12 pm. til 1 pm. Yes! right before lunchtime. In this meeting, we have built a safe and open space where we support and learn from each other. We always start with a very relaxed chat about our week and how we are feeling, and we finish truly energised!.
  • Trello board: we have a nice Trello board with our personal bios, our preferred ways of working, our annual leave, service design essentials, books, articles, videos, our work in progress and our backlog.
  • Weekly notes: Shaan introduced the idea of doing weekly notes (just bullet points) and some reflections about our individual projects as a way to document our progress, ask for help and support. We are also trying to have a very short stand up on Mondays (15 minutes) to share between us those weekly notes.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we did our first retrospective as a service design community of practice, which made me realise how important is to work on those agile ceremonies regularly. Beth, one of our brilliant delivery managers at Greenwich, said: “be focused on people, their well-being, and their emotions using agile practices and ceremonies because this is the best way to build incredible teams!”(I know that I’m not using exactly her words which were far way better in her presentation in the product team open house yesterday).

I will share some of our reflections, but of course, not all of them because they are part of our team safe space:

What went well?

  • Our weekly catch-ups, weekly notes, our central place to track our progress (Trello board)
  • Being always concerned about our well-being ❤
  • Creation of our safe, open and supportive space ❤
  • Knowledge and progress sharing

Shout outs!

  • We said thank you to each other and we got emotional on this part. I will keep this for ourselves :)

What didn’t go well?

  • find time to build our library!
  • the progress on our library hasn’t been the best!

Action plan?

Ok, we all agreed on what was important for us to work on. We know our library is important because it will allow us to save time in the future. In addition, creating patterns will also help future colleagues and other teams to work with a service design mindset. So:

  • we decided to book an extra slot for a few weeks to finish our library
  • work together, in a focused time to build our patterns using miro board
  • we defined a new realistic deadline
Image of our retrospective template on Miro board
Image of our retrospective template on Miro board

In summary, building a community of practice is not a simple task. It requires commitment, engagement and willingness, as well as prioritising time within our busy schedules. But more important, it needs a space where people can feel psychologically and emotionally safe. I have to say that the most amazing part of our retrospective today, was when we said thank you to each other, and express how important each person is to us. I feel immensely grateful for being part of such a lovely bunch of people, can’t wait for the next retro!

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Darinka Yoli

Darinka Yoli

Service Designer at Royal Borough of Greenwich. MPA in Innovation, public policy and public value, IIPP at UCL. Previously civil servant in Chile. She/her