Free mindset cards: run more effective discoveries

Creating the right environment for design to flourish

Author: Sam Menter

I recently joined a panel at HETT discussing best practice in user centred design (UCD), alongside Rochelle Gold, Head of User Research, NHS England and Roy Jogiya, Clinical Director, Health Innovation Network. 

Rather than focusing on craft, the main topics we explored were factors that need to be in place for best practice UCD to happen. Rochelle has been working hard to create an environment where UCD can flourish inside the NHS. My contribution was based on our experience of working as a supplier to NHS England as well as local ICBs including NHS Gloucestershire, NHS BNSSG and Mid and South Essex.

In some ways we’re lucky - by the time a piece of work goes out as a brief to a supplier, a lot of the groundwork has already been laid. But I’m very aware that creating the conditions where that piece of UCD work can be commissioned is a task in itself. Sometimes getting a brief out the door can be more challenging than delivering the work.

Mindset and maturity

We talked about the importance of mindset on a project - not just in the project team but in the wider organisation. How open are people to working with ambiguity and being prepared to iterate? How open are people to working with a discovery mindset?

This is a component of UCD maturity and Rochelle talked about NHS England’s user-centred design maturity model which includes a maturity ladder, self review tools, trained review facilitators, action planning guides tied together with community support.

While it’s quite easy to get going with tactical user centred design, it’s much harder to reach a point where user needs are at the heart of an organisation’s strategy, increasing efficiency and saving money.


An inclusive approach to research and design is a foundation of user centred design. But this isn’t always easy. Often the people who volunteer to participate in research and codesign are people with time on their hands who have already been vocal about their needs. What about the people who don’t volunteer? How can we ensure their needs are properly taken into account?

I shared some examples from our recent mental health work with Gloucestershire ICB where we used innovative research techniques to reach young people needing support around mental health. We ran workshops in schools and youth clubs and even ran some interviews via chat to ensure all people could contribute. Often the people most in need of support will be those who are hardest to recruit for research.


Lastly we spoke about the importance of collaboration. A patient pathway touches multiple services and teams. For example when we worked on the autism diagnosis pathway, we needed to involve stakeholders from eight different organisations. Supporting this level of collaboration enables you to align priorities and convene around a shared vision for the future of an experience.

separator line

Uncover what users need

We uncover exactly what users need from your service at each step of their journey. Then we show you how to meet these needs, so you can deliver brilliant services.

Contact us to see if we’d be a good fit for your project:  -  01179 296 5776

Related case studies

No items found.