A week in the life of a Local Government Lead Service Designer


People always ask me “What are you working on?” and the answer to that is “How long have you got??” 

A typical week in the life of me, Joanne Grime – Lead Service Design for Blackburn with Darwen Council is varied, full to the brim and very fast paced!! 

My team work the length and breadth of the council, right from Adults Social Care through to Zebra Crossing requests and everywhere in between!! At any one time we can have 20-30 pieces of work ongoing. This can be anything from large scale projects such as system replacements and service transformations which take up to 12 months or smaller more manageable work that can make a real difference to resourcing and capacity within a team. 

Monday –  

Technical staff noticed an issue with our Waste system meaning that code had to be rewritten immediately. Team members had to stop ongoing work, cancel meetings and move around so enough resource was available to ensure this issue had as little impact as possible to both the Contact Centre, our Cleansing teams and of course our customers. We worked out of hours to test what was required and the job was done within the shortest amount of time possible! 

Tuesday – 

BwD’s Childrens Disabled Facilities Grant service is due to come back in house on 01 July. It is my Teams responsibility to design, build and deliver a system that can be used for customers to apply for a grant, an Occupational Therapist to do an assessment of a property and then ensure our Building team get the correct plans to build the adaptions to ensure the child is safe and able to live life to the full at home. Another tight deadline!!  

We are currently at the design stage on this and are working closely with staff in Childrens Services to hit our deadlines. 

Wednesday –  

My highlight from today was a webinar that I attended on Local Government Service Design Maturity Model!! This was a great tool that was put together by a range of Councils and led by Newham Council. It explains how Service Design works, how local government can benefit from it and how the model can be used in practice - something I will be doing in the future – Watch this space!! 


Working on the Environmental Health system replacement will take up 1 day a week of my time for the next 9 months at least. We are currently pumping as much Service Design resource into this project as possible as we have yet another deadline to achieve. Working with the business areas to map out 129 processes as well as re engineer them to be more efficient and save resource is a big job!! Members of the team are working really hard to get this project out to tender while others are out in Food Hygiene, Licensing and Independent Living Services learning processes so we are as prepared as possible for when we procure a supplier. 

Friday –  

Over the past 5 months several members of the team have been working closely with Fostering Services. User research with Foster Carers is key to this work and our aim is to recruit more Foster Carers and retain them as long as we can. Transformation of this service will mean we have more placements available for children in our care. Today I ran our weekly “stand up” meeting with all parties involved to discuss ongoing work and tasks. 

This afternoon I delivered a “Lightening Session” in User Needs. This consists of 2 hours dedicated learning time for staff on any given subject! Delivery of this “lightening session” was old school face to face and focused on identifying users and the role they play within a process and then what the type of need required. The session opened up plenty of discussion points and the team were able to recognise how past work could have been done differently and came up with plans to introduce new ways of working moving forward.  

Just some of the things that I can get up to within a week! As a team we spend lots of time getting to know what people’s problems are and helping them to try and solve them.  

My role is to make the situation visible for the team and guide them to a solution. I am the person who asks the difficult questions and guides the team to develop seamless user journeys for our users. 

If you would like to know more about future opportunities to join the Service Design Team please email joanne.grime@blackburn.gov.uk 

By Joanne on 15th Jun 2023
Lead Service Designer in Digital & Business Change