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Why showing the thing to everyone is important

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: GDS team, User research

A few years ago, when I was organising finance and procurement for the GDS user research lab, I invited the Financial Business Manager for the Cabinet Office to come and see the space, an invitation he accepted. I gave him a tour of the space and showed him the plans. I shared the vision, and involved him in the creative process. I did the same with the Estate Manager, building security, and postal room staff.

It wasn’t a consciously strategic move, I was just gung-ho and eager to get everyone who had anything to do with the project involved and enthusiastic too. It proved a very good move.

Collaboration was so important

Finance went smoothly, deliveries arrived without hassle, parking arrangements and supplier passes were no problem, and the Estate Manager went the extra mile in helping make the lab just right.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but to a very large extent, the success of the project was a result of this very human and simple effort - show everyone involved in the project the thing. And I mean everyone.

It’s about understanding that people in extended-team positions are often overlooked for their importance in bringing a creative vision to life. Especially in the case of finance and procurement, their buy-in is essential to a project’s success. When you’re used to running numbers, paperwork, and contracts all day - with little vision of what you’re actually creating the contract for - it’s refreshing and enthusing to be included in the creative vision.

A prototype, a gnarly sketch. A here’s-what-we’re-doing

We’ve just completed procurement on another project. No matter how clear we thought we were being, procurement just didn’t seem to get it. It wasn’t their fault, we hadn’t actually communicated what we were trying to build, and why. We’d left them in the dark and expected them to accept and understand all the details.

We could have shown them a prototype. We should have done.

Keep it short and sweet

It’s not about overloading extended team members with more information than they need. You might show them a prototype, a gnarly sketch, or an empty room along with drawings and explanations, as was the case with the GDS lab. The point is to show the thing, show it early, and give everyone a creative ‘in’.

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  1. Comment by Rachel Conway posted on

    totally true and we should remember when we need to physically go and see at team or service in action to fully understand

  2. Comment by Nick Hill posted on

    Well put 🙂

  3. Comment by Tony Scott posted on

    Very true advice which I implement these days in all projects I undertake...