Five things to know about Spacebank this week:
Working collaboratively with libraries
We considerably closer to pulling off a co-design workshop with library colleagues. A huge thank you to Sue and her team for juggling rotas to help us get this over the line.
Our MVP is emerging
My favourite moments this week have been the conversations about our MVP. Some great debate about what’s minimal vs what’s viable, and what’s achievable in a time-boxed build phase. It’s exciting to watch our list of user stories mature and grow as a result of all the hard work over the last 10 weeks.
Working out where our service starts and finishes
Sebastian has been looking into where our service starts and finishes. Yet again, GDS as come up trumps with some really solid guidance on the use of subdomains and URL naming conventions.
We are mystery shopping
Liam has been looking again at our “competitors” – aka other Councils and their booking processes for libraries and community halls. Our MVP will be based on our user needs and tested workflows, and early signs are we can add value to other councils by sharing what we are developing and making our code available.
We are (almost) ready for our service assessment
Our service assessment is in a couple of weeks. We’ve been building in preparation to our sprints, which is paying off. It’s a great opportunity to look back over the last couple of months and reflect on how far we’ve come and what we’ve learnt.
We are in the final two weeks of the prototype phase. It’s like Christmas Eve – everyone is excited, nervous and a little bit over tired!
Our sprint goal is:
“Define our MVP, co-design a workflow with library colleagues, get ready for our service assessment and tie up our loose ends.”
We welcomed Emma Lewis into the team this sprint. She is a front end developer who joined Hackney this week. We’re already benefiting from a fresh pair of eyes on our work.
Things I am excited about:
- Emma and Sebastian are coding a calendar which will show the availability of library rooms. There’s some great open source options and also the potential to build our own.
- A workshop with library colleagues to co-design their work flow. We’ve been itching to collaborate more closely and can’t wait to make something together! I get to join in this time and I’m looking forward to delivering this workshop with Joy and Sam.
- The final decision on what our MVP is going to look like. We’ve come along way from our “three experiments” at the end of discovery. Richard, our Product Owner is on the case, and will be presenting his proposal to the team at the end of the sprint.
Things I am nervous about:
- The decision to do a workshop with library colleagues is the right choice, but it’s the harder option. We could have pulled together a prototype based on evidence alone and done some testing to validate it. This didn’t feel right. To get this done, we have hefty dependency on whether duty managers can swap shifts and redraft rotas. It’s a big ask in a small amount of time.
- We’ve only got 9 days this sprint, instead of 10. Every day matters at the moment. I love bank holidays, but it’s a delivery manager’s nightmare when there are 4 in 7 weeks. I have more grey hairs as a result.
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.
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.
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.