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This content is part of the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Capability Framework which describes the skills and Civil Service competencies needed for each role in the DDaT Profession. Please send any feedback on this content, or of your experience using it, to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. What a lead service designer does
A lead service designer is an expert practitioner who influences and mentors others. They work with service managers and programme directors to develop design concepts.
They set direction, assure the quality of design delivery across teams and can lead multiple or highly complex services.
2. What skills they need
A lead service designer needs a combination of specific technical skills and Civil Service competencies.
All roles have essential skills, and some have desirable skills.
Each skill has a skill level that ranges from ‘awareness’ to ‘expert’.
2.1 Essential skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Skill level||What the skill level means|
|Communicating information||Able to communicate effectively across organisational, technical and political boundaries, understanding the context. Makes complex and technical information and language simple and accessible for non-technical audiences. Able to advocate and communicate what a team does to create trust and authenticity and can respond to challenge.||Expert||Able to mediate and mend relationships, communicating with stakeholders at all levels. Able to manage stakeholders’ expectations and facilitate discussions across high risk and complexity or under constrained timescales. Able to speak and represent the community to large audiences inside and outside of government.|
|Digital perspective||Understands how the digital economy is changing user behaviour and the government landscape. Is able to make informed decisions based on user needs, available technology and value for money. Has knowledge of the wider digital economy and advances in technology||Practitioner||Has the ability to apply a digital understanding to their work. Is able to identify and implement solutions for assisted digital.|
|Evidence and context-based design||Visualises, articulates, solves complex problems and concepts, and makes disciplined decisions based on available information and research evidence. Able to move from analysis to synthesis and/or design intent. Such skills include demonstration of the ability to apply logical thinking, gathering and analysing information and evidencing key performance indicators.||Expert||Designs systems for use across multiple services and can identify the simplest approach out of a variety of approaches (Occam’s Razor).|
|Facilitating decisions and risks||Capable of making and guiding effective decisions, explaining clearly how the decision has been reached. Has the ability to understand technical complexity and risks, run collaborative design activities, influence others and build consensus.||Expert||Makes and justifies decisions characterised by high levels of risk, impact and complexity. Builds consensus between organisations (private or public) or highly independent and diverse stakeholders. Trusted by senior risk owners as an expert in security. Able to apply risk methodologies at the most complex levels of risk and guide others in applying risk methodologies in proportion to the risk in question.|
|Leadership and guidance||Interprets vision to lead on decisions. Creates a continually collaborative environment and sustains a good service. Understands and resolves technical disputes across varying levels of complexity and risk. Solves issues and unblocks problems. Drives teams and sets the pace, ensuring teams are delivering. Manages risk including effectively managing and tracking the mitigation of risks. Manages various dependencies across teams, departments and government as a whole.||Expert||Changes organisational structures to fixable and sustainable designs. Leads on the strategy for the whole organisation, marrying business needs with innovative analysis. Able to make and justify decisions characterised by high levels of risk, impact and complexity. Builds consensus between organisations (private or public) or highly independent and diverse stakeholders. Solves and unblocks issues between teams or departments at the highest level. Understands the psychology of the team and has strong mediation skills. Able to coach the organisation on team dynamics and conflict resolution.|
|Prototyping||Able to apply technical knowledge and experience to create or design workable prototypes, both programmes and physical outputs. Understands parameters, restrictions and synergies.||Expert||Experienced in using a variety of methods of prototyping. Shares best practice and can coach others. Looks at strategic service design end to end.|
|Prototyping in code||Understands the limitations of internet technology and why code is important. Able to prototype a code, but does not necessarily have to make production-ready code. Can talk to developers and knows when to switch code. Understands security, accessibility and version control. Can use ‘what you see is what you get’ tools.||Working||Has the ability to write HTML and can add new tags.|
|Strategic thinking||Able to have an overall perspective on business issues, events, activities and an understanding of their wider implications and long-term impact. This could include determining patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements. Can focus on outcomes rather than solutions and activities.||Expert||Leads the design and implementation of strategy, directing the evaluation of strategies and policies to ensure business requirements are being met.|
|Understanding constraints||Able to understand and work within the given constraints (including but not limited to technology, policy, regulatory, financial, legal, social user constraints) and to challenge constraints that can be changed. Capable of ensuring compliance against constraints by adapting products and services where needed.||Practitioner||Works with and challenges senior stakeholders. Can prioritise and mitigate constraints, and can turn them into an advantage. Is able to adapt the approach depending on the constraints.|
|User focus||Understands users and can identify who they are and what their needs are based on evidence. Able to translate user stories and propose design approaches or services to meet these needs and engages in meaningful interactions and relationships with users. Puts users first and can manage competing priorities.||Expert||Gives direction on which tools and methods to use. Is experienced in meeting the needs of users across a variety of channels. Able to bring insight and expertise in how user needs have changed over time to ensure these are met by the business. Applies strategic thinking in how to provide the best service for the end user.|
2.2 Desirable skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Skill level||What the skill level means|
|Agile working||Is aware of and understands agile methodology and how to apply an agile mindset to all aspects of their work. Has the ability to work in a fast-paced, evolving environment and utilises an iterative method and flexible approach to enable rapid delivery. Unafraid to take risks, willing to learn from mistakes and appreciates the importance of agile project delivery for digital projects in Government. Able to ensure the team has a situational awareness of what each other is working on and how this relates to practical government objectives and user needs.||Expert||Coaches and leads teams in agile and Lean practices, determining the right approach for the team to take and evaluating this through the life of a project. Is able to think of new and innovative ways of working to achieve the right outcomes. Is able to act as a recognised expert and advocates for the approaches, continuously reflecting and challenging the team.|
|Community collaboration||Contributes to the work of the community, building successful teams through understanding team styles and influencing as well as motivating team members. Gives and receives constructive feedback, facilitating the feedback loop. Facilitates conflict resolution within teams, ensures the team is transparent and that the work is understood externally. Able to help teams maintain a focus on delivery while being aware of the importance of professional development.||Practitioner||Able to work collaboratively within a group, actively networking with others and engaging in varying types of feedback choosing the appropriate time, and ensuring the discussion sticks. Uses initiative to identify problems or issues in the team dynamic and rectify them. Able to pull out issues through agile health-checks with the team to provoke the right responses.|
3. Civil Service competencies
In the Civil Service, we use the Competency Framework to outline expected behaviours. Competencies are used as part of the assessment during the interview process.
3.1 Essential competencies
|Competency||Description||Interpretation for the job role|
|Collaborating and partnering||People skilled in this area are team players. At all levels, it requires working collaboratively, sharing information appropriately and building supportive, trusting and professional relationships with colleagues and a wide range of people within and outside the Civil Service, whilst having the confidence to challenge assumptions. For senior leaders, it’s about being approachable, delivering business objectives through creating an inclusive environment, welcoming challenge, however uncomfortable.||Designs in the open and is able to put ideas in progress in front of people. Partners with other teams, delivers training and mentors others.|
|Changing and improving||People who are effective in this area take initiative, are innovative and seek out opportunities to create effective change. For all staff, it’s about learning from what has worked as well as what has not, being open to change and improvement, and working in ‘smarter’, more focused ways. For leaders, this is about creating and encouraging a culture of innovation and allowing people to consider and take informed decisions. Doing this well means continuously seeking out ways to improve policy implementation and build a leaner, more flexible and responsive Civil Service. It also means making use of alternative delivery models including digital and shared service approaches wherever possible.||Constantly iterates services and is able to know that a service has been improved.|
|Delivering at pace||Effectiveness in this area means focusing on delivering timely performance with energy and taking responsibility and accountability for quality outcomes. For all staff, it’s about working to agreed goals and activities and dealing with challenges in a responsive and constructive way. For leaders, it is about building a performance culture where staff are given space, authority and support to deliver outcomes. It’s also about keeping a firm focus on priorities and addressing performance issues resolutely, fairly and promptly.||Maintains momentum by being able to identify and solve the right problems.|
|Making effective decisions||Effectiveness in this area is about using sound judgment, evidence and knowledge to arrive at accurate, expert and professional decisions and advice. For all staff, it’s being careful and thoughtful about the use and protection of government and public information to ensure it is handled securely and with care. For leaders, it’s about reaching evidence-based strategies, evaluating options, impacts, risks and solutions and creating a security culture around the handling information. They will aim to maximise return while minimising risk and balancing a range of considerations to provide sustainable outcomes.||Collaborates with researchers and follows evidence-based design. Is able to challenge assumptions.|
3.2 Desirable competencies
|Competency||Description||Interpretation for the job role|
|Leading and communicating||At all levels, effectiveness in this area is about showing our pride and passion for public service, communicating purpose and direction with clarity, integrity, and enthusiasm. It’s about championing difference and external experience, and supporting principles of fairness of opportunity for all. For leaders, it is about being visible, establishing a strong direction and persuasive future vision; managing and engaging with people in a straightforward, truthful, and candid way.||Is a critical leader who explains their decisions.|
|Building capability for all||Effectiveness in this area is having a strong focus on continuous learning for oneself, others and the organisation. For all staff, it’s being open to learning, about keeping one’s own knowledge and skill set current and evolving. For leaders, it’s about investing in the capabilities of our people, to be effective now and in the future as well as giving clear, honest feedback and supporting teams to succeed. It’s also about creating a learning and knowledge culture across the organisation to inform future plans and transformational change.||For individuals, this means learning new skills and focusing on personal development. For leaders, this means creating the right culture and opportunities for learning.|
|Seeing the big picture||Seeing the big picture is about having an in-depth understanding and knowledge of how your role fits with and supports organisational objectives and the wider public needs and the national interest. For all staff, it is about focusing your contribution on the activities which will meet Civil Service goals and deliver the greatest value. For leaders, it is about scanning the political context and taking account of wider impacts to develop long-term implementation strategies that maximise opportunities to add value to the citizen and support economic, sustainable growth.||Understands the end-to-end service design.|
4. Other roles in service design
There are 5 other role levels in service design: