Week #1: 2–6 May

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Selfie of Martin Jordan, new Head of Design at the German government’s Digital Service in front of the outside door – with 2 signs saying Digital Service in the background

I’m here! I arrived! And finished my first week at the Digital Service already.

While figuring out what format works for me and these weeknotes, I’ll mostly let this week’s tweets recap what happened.

Onboarding at the Digital Service

As part of the onboarding, everyone gets an onboarding buddy. Mine is Lisa, our head of finance. She is a funny, chatty, and cheerful personality.

I and 2 others got pinged by a Slack bot, asking us to find time to meet over coffee. So we did that – as the weather allowed on the roof terrace – and mostly talked about train rides, train journeys and rail infrastructure.

On day 2, in between my onboarding, I had the chance to spend a few hours at the Digitaler Staat (Digital State) conference. There wasn’t too much I hadn’t heard before, and it felt like consultancies and agencies used the event to make their pitches. However, there was rather little happening on a working level, even though 575 services should be digitalised by the end of the year.

One exception was a panel on user-centred and agile ways of working, led by the great Tati Muñoz. The Digital Service’s senior designer Charlotte was on the panel and made some excellent statements.

The week was sprinkled with onboarding sessions, split into 3 main parts. A joint discipline onboarding talk was what I had not seen like this in a little while: a proper connection and mutual understanding between design, engineering, and product.

So my day 5 tweet was as sunny as the weather in Berlin.

Connecting to the outside

To get an outside view right from the start, I spoke to Dr Ines Mergel, a full professor for public administration and digital governance at the University in Konstanz, and Svenja Bickert-Appleby, who is working with local government in the federal state of Hesse.

These perspectives are vital as the Digital Service is solely working with Federal ministries, departments, and agencies but has a dedicated mission to increase capability across government.

Thinking about the different presentations of digital government services worldwide, I asked on Twitter why service start and landing pages should have non-functional images. That led to quite a few interesting responses.

What’s next

Onboarding is a process that doesn’t stop with week 1.

I already started having my first 1:1 with Daphne, a designer who started the same day as me. I hope to meet with all designers for at least 45 minutes next week. And meet and get know many more colleagues in the kitchen or on the roof terrace.