Hackney Spacebank: Weeknotes w/c 13th May 2019

Five things you need to know about Spacebank this week:

Tested, iterated and tested again

We’ve been testing our prototype with voluntary and community groups who book library rooms. The proposed workflow is resonating with our users, and we are learning more about their expectations for payment. We’ve got some more work to do about making the process smoother for repeat bookers.

New faces at show and tell

It was brilliant to see some new faces at our show and tell this week. We tried hosting it in a communal open space at Hackney Service Centre. On the plus side it was light and airy, but the noise levels were high and participants were struggling to hear us at times. We hold the majority of our show and tells in the IT area, and this requires stakeholders to come to us. Interestingly, our new faces didn’t come as a result of a different location so whilst I’m glad we tried it, the cons outweigh the pros on this occasion.

The art of the possible

We’ve been looking at our tech options over the last week. We’ve got a dependency on another project and we are working together to understand how our work dovetails with theirs. The tech options are plentiful. What we need to be clear about is the cost vs benefit given the size of the current service. I’m mindful that articulating what we’re not going to do is as important as making the case for proposed changes.

A team is bigger than the sum of its individual parts

In the last couple of weeks, the team “as a unit of delivery” has hit their stride. The competence and confidence of the collective has really grown. What do I mean? I’m seeing connections emerging across the disciplines, organic conversations happening and skills sharing between makers. I’m also seeing team members get out of comfort zones, which suggests that we’ve been successful in building trust. All this takes time and investment. Look after your humans first and foremost!  

The finish line cometh

It’s bittersweet to be entering our last sprint. It’s exciting seeing the threads of our experiments, user research and service design coming together. We know we’ve got to make some tough decisions about what constitutes our MVP over the next couple of weeks. This is the nerve racking bit.

Hackney Spacebank: Weeknotes, w/c 8th May 2019


We started our week with sprint planning. Our goal for sprint 4 is:

“Testing our early prototype with users, pulling together initial recommendations on our tech stack, completing accessibility testing on our three experiments and taking our first look at the service assessment.”

We hit the ground running this sprint. We completed two days of testing by the end of the week. Joy put in some serious leg work to get our prototype test ready and Richard and Sam whipped up a discussion guide. We’ve learnt a lot from these first two rounds and we’ve got two more days of testing next week.

Sebastian is putting our early experiments through some accessibility testing. We want to have an idea of where we might run into accessibility issues and start thinking about how to address these as early as possible.

Liam is kicking off our tech review. He’s been gathering up background material and talking to other project teams. Last, but never least, Winston’s been doing battle (and winning) with the research findings from interviews with library staff and security officers.

From a delivery perspective, a late Easter break and two May bank holidays in close succession is putting a squeeze on our time and capacity. That said, we’ve all benefited from some extra rest and it’s prompted some good conversations about how to prioritise work.

Hackney Spacebank: Weeknotes w/c 28 April 2019

We’ve been living our best agile life this week! A fully staffed team, buzzing with the anticipation of testing next week and glowing from a successful show and tell. The tenacious conversations and hard graft of the last couple of weeks is really paying off.

A couple of specific things to highlight:

Changing up the way we do show and tell

Show and tell is one of our forms of governance at Hackney. For it to be effective, we need not only articulate our progress but to proactively offer means of gathering feedback. Here’s what we tried:

  • Offered sticky notes and sharpies to every attendee when they arrived – setting the expectation that they would be making a contribution to our show and tell
  • Provided a feedback flipchart where participants could add their sticky note (important for people who don’t like speaking up in groups)
  • Broke down the show and tell into small interactive chunks and asked for feedback at the end of each section
  • Kept our content down to three key messages, including talking about the hard stuff (not just the shiny things)
  • Only used slides when absolutely necessary (additional slides were added afterwards for stakeholders unable to attend)
  • Every member of the team spoke
  • We practised beforehand
  • Every question answered honestly, even if that meant saying “we don’t know”

None of this is rocket science, but by the end of 30 minutes we had the most feedback from a show and tell to date. It wasn’t only the quantity but the quality improved too. Some great challenge offered in a positive way, really helpful signposting and the offer of collaboration from another team.

It definitely took more thought to organise, but not much more time in the grand scheme of things. The added value was worth the time investment.  

Meeting with Councillors Selman and Kennedy

On Thursday we met with Councillors Selman and Kennedy, the Cabinet members with overall responsibility for this project. We look forward to these conversations. It helps to understand things from their perspective and to hear what they need from us to support their conversations at Cabinet level.

They track our progress closely via weeknotes (we use these as a governance tool too). This means their questions and feedback is robust and well informed. These conversations keep us on our toes, which is good, and we appreciate the spirit and enthusiasm in which this regular scrutiny is offered.

Hackney Spacebank: Weeknotes w/c 23 April

Five things you need to know about Spacebank this week:

Sprint 3 is under way

We started the week with sprint planning. Our goal:

“Defining our measures for success, drilling down into what happens at the end of the library booking process, and sharing our progress with stakeholders via a show and tell.”

Paying for and accessing a library meeting room is the final piece of the puzzle in our user journey. This involves librarians, security staff, finance officers and the end user. To find out more, Winston has been out and about in the borough’s libraries armed with his trusty discussion guide, consent forms and a winning smile.

Mining the data

Joy, our service designer has been mining the data about library bookings. This is hard graft; I am suitably in awe of Joy’s eye for detail and rapid analysis. She’s been trawling through emails for information that will help us to understand:

  • Where we can co-design improvements which will smooth out the booking experience for users
  • What we can measure to determine whether or not we are making a positive difference

Preparing for show and tell

Seeking a bit of inspiration, we prepared for our show and tell by playing the anti-problem game. Planning for “the world’s worst show and tell” was a lot of fun, but importantly it helped us think differently about how we could communicate clearly and creatively. In particular, we are thinking about how to engage attendees more effectively so we get quality feedback on our progress.

Front end developer – unblocked!

I have written about recruitment challenges in previous weeknotes. I’m delighted to say that Sebastian will be joining the team on Monday. Getting this recruitment over the line has been a joint effort with Susan McFarland and Nic Teeman. A problem shared is a problem halved as the saying goes!

Testing, testing, testing

We are over half way into our prototyping phase. We’re getting ready for some rapid testing and iteration in sprints 4 and 5. Central to these early conversations is challenging ourselves to ask the right questions. These tests will put our assumptions under close scrutiny. What we learn over the next couple of sprints will be the foundation of our MVP.