How to work with your team to create a culture for user-centred, collaborative design.

Take time before you start, to understand the environment of the project. Work with the team to develop an understanding of an organisation or service provider’s:


A design brief should be created in collaboration with the wider team and include:

  • the problem you all agree you’re trying to solve
  • a plan of how you’ll solve it together
  • a vision of what you want to achieve


There may be barriers, like time, money or resource. Do not underestimate the culture or internal politics — an organisation that’s not set up to incorporate change could find it challenging to deliver a new service that requires a restructure of internal teams.


Is there an appetite or potential for change? Will service owners make ‘collaboration’ more important than ‘who controls what gets designed’?

Potential — team structure

Are the right people in the room at the right time — at the start? Learn how to build a multidisciplinary team

Start where you are

You need to think about what your organisation is trying to do when you start to design collaboratively. You need to understand the organisation and its services in more detail before starting a service design project.

Find out about:

Scope your service

Decide the scope of your project with users first. Understanding scope gives safe boundaries to develop a service, minimising the risk of failure to deliver and maximising the potential to deliver the right thing.

Scoping your service means you need to work out when the service starts, ends and what you have responsibility for. It’s based on the opportunities and demands for new services — in other words ‘what your users really need to complete their tasks’.

Your scope might be:

  • solving a problem by creating a new service or improving an existing one
  • creating a new service which is part of an existing service

Make sure your scope is always defined in the design brief and manageable so you do not end up doing work that is not needed or missing out work that’s essential to delivery. It’s common for a service to be divided up between different teams to be researched, designed and delivered. It’s important to understand different ways of learning about the service. Understand how users find the application so you can design for those routes.