A design-led approach

If SH24 is a success, it’s likely to revolutionise the delivery of sexual health services - it could be truly transformational. The word transformation is now one of the most over used adjectives in the NHS, even more so than innovation. It’s recognised that in order to achieve transformational change you’re likely to need a healthy dose of innovation. Question is, how are we aiming to develop a transformational service? 

As our team includes designers, it’s logical that we’re looking to a design approach to help us innovate - in essence, to make a positive change. However, we know that design is not all we need. Throughout the development of SH24 we will pull in other methodologies and work with experts as and when we need to, whether they be from the same stable or completely different. Our approach that will promote agile working - allowing us to commission small packages of work when required, rather than all up front - the term ‘fail cheap and fast’ comes to mind.

Design is often misunderstood, with some people believing it’s purely about aesthetics, building and manufacturing things. In reality, we know design is much more - it represents a value added process by which creativity can be harnessed and turned into innovation. Throughout this process, we hope to;

  • Focus on user needs
  • Foster collaboration - reaching out to as many people as possible, but particularly connecting with other disciplines  
  • Reduce costs
  • Reduce risk
  • Create tangible, measurable outputs as early as possible (which we can learn from)
  • Build new partnerships
  • Make our work visible to encourage people to engage with the project; what we are doing, how, when and why

We believe design is all about divergent and convergent thinking – which is neatly illustrated by the double diamond (although it’s worth saying that other models are available). Divergent thinking is about gathering knowledge and developing a range of ideas and solutions, expanding the range of possibilities. In a convergent thinking phase; assumptions are tested, ideas narrowed down and a focused output created.

We will carry out these divergent and convergent cycles not once but multiple times. By repeatedly moving between the two, we can test our ideas and be agile about what we develop.

It goes without saying that we hope SH24 will act as an exemplar project for how innovative complex, multi-stakeholder services can be delivered in a new way, whilst improving the health outcomes for our users.