What is it like to work with Made Tech? It’s a good question – and an understandable one, if you’re a potential client thinking of working with us. It’s something we’ve always been very happy to talk about in person, but we realised it’s past time for us to write it down and put it on the internet – much easier to share, and much easier to iterate.
As we got to writing, it became clear that we were writing principles. We’re fortunate in that, almost always, how we do work matches how we think we should. And when that’s the case, when you describe how you work, principles just come out. Here’s what we wrote down…
Made Tech Principles
1. Create impact for all
We create services that balance user needs, policy goals and what’s possible now. Public services exist to create an impact on people’s lives. Good services deliver positive outcomes for society that are fair and equitable for all. Be it cleaner air, safer roads, more jobs or better use of taxes – we understand that everything we do has an impact, no matter how large or small.
2. Build successful teams
Success comes from our people. To build the right team, we strive to truly represent the communities we serve. We bring people together with a mixture of skills and experience. And we give everyone the opportunity to explore. We trust one another, respect hands-on skills, and always assume best intentions.
3. Everyone can learn
We’re passionate about learning. We strive to leave our clients, partners and suppliers with the skills, enthusiasm and credibility to keep delivering. Learning works both ways – we understand that others can teach us as much as we can teach them.
4. Make real solutions
We measure value in our work by delivering real things that impact our clients, citizens and society. By inviting feedback and seeking the shortest path to deliver real value, we see the change our work creates in people’s lives.
5. Do less to achieve more
By working in agile teams, designing fewer features and using words everyone understands, we make a meaningful impact sooner, and create strong foundations to build on.
6. Deliver little and often
By delivering features step by step we can get the small stuff out first, giving real value to the people who need it – quickly. We invite feedback early to learn, iterate and reduce risk.
7. Earn trust
Openness is at the core of everything we do. We use open ways of working on our projects, in our business and with one another. Sharing our successes and failures builds trust, gives us room to grow and holds us accountable. This lets others reuse and give feedback on our work so we all learn and improve.
8. Be brave, be curious
We have the courage to challenge the status quo and the curiosity to innovate. By exploring new ways of doing things and taking lessons we’ve learnt, we can build services the public sector needs. We recognise there’s always a different way to solve a problem, often supported by proven practices and technologies.
9. Believe in compromise
There’s no such thing as perfect and we acknowledge that tradeoffs can often be part of our work. When making challenging decisions, we focus on quality and work within our limits. We recognise when to shift deadlines and make smart business decisions – always with a humble approach.
10. Nurture long-term relationships
As trusted advisors we always aim to go above and beyond. We collaborate with our clients, working with them to design and build the future of their services. We support them to define and solve their challenges, building long-term partnerships.
11. Work ourselves out of a job
Real change means helping our clients deliver services independently and long term. We nurture long term partnerships so we can support the next challenge rather than locking ourselves into the last one.
12. Leave things better than we found them
Our work involves trying to meet the often-competing needs of our people, clients and users while building solutions that really work. This means knowing that, sometimes, we must build trust now to create a bigger impact later on.
Guiding your teams
It’s important to say here that while living each and every one of these principles might not be where we are right now, they’re where we want to be and what we strive for every day.
Thing is, I’m sure that this is the way you’d like to work too. Lots of the people at Made Tech not only have public sector experience, but identify as public sector people. We get it. And we want to help. But to test that premise, we’d love to hear your feedback.
Through these 12 principles we want to help guide our teams. This was a team effort. Created collaboratively, each one has been iterated to help us hone the way we like to work with clients, and build teams that deliver valuable impact in the public sector. We also wanted to give our clients, partners and new team members a window into what it looks and feels like to work with us.
Our first version of these principles was created to help define the ways our teams work and the way delivery is done at Made Tech. We started by inviting our head of departments to explore ideas and put words to paper, we then began creating the basis of these principles.
Then we invited feedback, and iterated, running workshops to hear our team’s thoughts and make changes based on how the words made them feel..
We’re making some posters
We made some posters which we’re putting up in our various offices. These were also very much a team effort. They could go all in one place, or you can spread them out a bit and have a bit of fun with them. You could put principle number 10, “Nurture long-term relationships,” by a coffee machine, for example. You get the idea.
We’re not completely happy with these first prototypes because of poor paper quality and uneven borders. So we’re doing what we do best – iterating. We’re still very much set on the idea of having physical copies of our principles, so we’re heading back to quality control.
Principles for real-world situations
What about the Government Design Principles? Good question. In no way are our principles an effort to supersede or improve upon these. The Government Design Principles remain The Principles for doing digital government well. They’re the North Star – they’re where you aim when building digital public services.
But if they’re the North Star, we’d liken our Made Tech principles to a map and a compass – they’re here to help navigate real-world challenges. Because as anyone who has worked in public sector digital delivery for any time knows – there are always constraints.
And however relentlessly-focused we should be on user needs (and we should), we think it’s OK to think in terms of government needs, organisational needs, and stakeholder needs, too. Because when you don’t think about these needs, projects get stuck.
We’ve written these with a client and supplier-partner relationship in mind, but hopefully, the collaborative ways of working that underpin pretty much all of these principles are relevant and helpful for teams hoping to get things done quickly and effectively.
In other words, this isn’t just a description of how Made Tech works – it’s how we think we should all collaborate when we work on public sector projects. It’s what we’ve seen success with, both in terms of results, and in terms of happy teams.
The principles are published on Github, and feedback is very welcome there, or via social media. Is there anything we’ve missed, something you’d like clearer or a point you really like? Let us know. But we’ll list them here too for your reading convenience. Just bear in mind, if you’re watching this on Dave, the principles may since have been updated on Github – consider this post as a time capsule for the future…
Get your own copies!
Let us know if you’d like a digital copy you can print yourself. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn. And if you’d like to work with us to put them into practice, just drop us a line.
Or if you’d like a few physical copies (when they’re ready!) let us know next time you’re coming to one of our in-person events and we can have some ready for you. We generally print them A2 size, but can print them smaller if you haven’t got much wall space.
This is probably a good place to plug an upcoming talk by our Lead Designer Vicky-Houghton Price on why, as designers, we don’t always need a map. She’ll be speaking at SDinGov in Edinburgh between September 28 and 30. You can grab a ticket from the SGinGov website.