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Monthly 'All Hands' meeting

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital skills, Legal aid
MOJ Digital All-Hands - December 2014

Once a month, our team come together to share the progress of our exemplars, achievements we have made and some of the learning curves we have had.

The last team meeting of the year was a jolly affair. The witty Head of Content Martin Oliver compered the event in Mary Ward House kicking off with some MP facts. Did you know it’s illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament? He even handed out awards at the end for most creative hair and best use of Harry Potter glasses. Nice.

First we met Dr David Best, Digital Services’ new Head of Transformation. He talked briefly about how bureaucracy, which has spent years focusing on itself, now needs to make the shift to focusing on user experience. And how he’s here to help that happen. The unbearable messiness of being…

Then we met Dr Paul Thomas, an academic, author, consultant and fast-talking performer. He talked about wanting to simplify organisations and let people do their job without the layers of hierarchy.

He actively seeks to break down organisational structures. He discussed the importance of avoiding the outdated 19th century practice of ‘making people machines’. To do this, leadership must change. He talked about how often he’s found the people at the top don’t get to hear the truth about the organisation they’re supposed to be leading. And that leads to a myriad of problems. People will only be productively led when they think leaders are decent, human, committed and doing the right thing.

Dr Paul Thomas

Also, he reminded us that humans are messy and that’s OK. Not everything goes to plan but a good leader will help you pick yourself up, take a good look at what went wrong and try again.

Importance of trust

Paul also talked about trust being critical, risk fundamental and creativity central to success in anything. But he reminded us that trust is fragile and must be allowed great importance to thrive. (One example he mentioned was of a teacher who instantly didn’t trust him and he didn’t know why. Eventually he realised he was drinking out of their mug! It was as simple as that.) Risk means mistakes will be made… and forgiven. And creativity, well, we are born creative and must fight to stay that way.

Defence solicitors - new product in the making

On we went to hear Will Rowan talk about defence solicitors. His team has found a clever way to simplify the admin process of a detainee in police custody. By reducing bureaucracy, the process for a detainee in custody to get a defence solicitor can be slicker, quicker and less frustrating for all concerned.

Putting our users before the service

Good user focus

Service manager, Danny Ivatt talked about the user-testing research his Tribunals Database team is doing. They found that by designing services for a user who had very average computer skills helps ensure the product they design is simple and intuitive enough for everyone.

Increasing efficiency, lowering costs

Tom Dolan, Service Manager for Civil Legal Aid Operator systems conveyed how his team has discovered that 85% of callers requesting help didn’t actually need a legal specialist. His team has reduced the amount of information the call centre operator has to take down before effectively dealing with the call, helping the department become more efficient and save costs. Watch this space to find out more, we'll get a post up soon!

Monthly retrospective

We got together to come up with one thing about Digital Services we want to continue and one thing we want to stop. Once the votes were in, the team decided to continue the fight to reduce hierarchy and to try and stop meetings without purpose or agenda. Let’s see if we can make it happen in the New Year…

Until then, have a relaxing festive break!

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