Rhythms and rituals


Habits are like shortcuts for your brain, and they can work either to your benefit or your detriment. Habits allow you to function on autopilot so you can perform tasks while thinking about something more important. Usually, this is a good thing. You don’t have to concentrate on your order of operations in the shower, setting your mind free to wander, plan your day, or problem-solve. Automatically putting your seat belt on when you get into a car means you never forget to buckle up, even when you’re thinking about something else.

For the hard to become a habit, we need social reinforcement, for the habit to become easy, we need to shape our habitats accordingly, places to practice and people to teach us or work with, and for the easy to become beautiful, we need social rewards, such that the newfound habit is socially endorsed.

We cannot change ourselves without changing each other. If we want new habits, we should work the environment around us and that starts with the teams we’re in. How could you do this?

1. Start from adopting habits that embody different values


You put yourself in other people’s shoes to see things from their perspective. Services and projects start from understanding others before developing ideas


You’re curious about how people from other walks of life are working

Services and projects are designed with different people using different methods which may take time to get to grips with


You like to see how you can work with others to create something better than you could alone.

Services and projects will be developed with the resources, needs and personal constraints of each collaborator and the impact will be distributed


You help people make sense of your lessons, while making sense of their insights

Your actions and insights may be challenged, but be improved through peer review


You make sure that every experience you create makes people feel at home, whether that’s a website or a workshop

The activities and experiences you create may require a better understanding of what makes different people feel at home, but may mean they commit more to them


You love discovering and experimenting with new ways of using digital

More diverse ways of doing and solving problems may require a smarter selection of ideas to test trust, but will open up to approaches that could solve problems that you found difficult to solve before


You enjoy getting people excited about the opportunities technology can bring to helping people

Activities may need more time to get people excited in the idea beofre it’s developed but is more likely to result in people wanting to get involved


You’re comfortable with challenging people about how digital could be used to improve people’s lives and tackling society’s big challenges

Projects and relationships may be disrupted because of your criticism, but can help clarify the “elephants in the room”

2. Develop rhythms and rituals in your team

Decide what you can do now versus later and then agree:

  • What you can do as a team
  • What people can do individually
  • What you can do to support the wider organisation

Develop sessions getting people to come up with ideas on how we can better work together to support the organisation

  • Use creative ways to get staff to come up with ideas, like getting them to choose 2–3 of these change cards to think differently about your work as a team
  • Create a team “Pecha Kucha” celebrating each person through their work
  • Thematise your team sessions, which could include a wellbeing fortnight, demystifying design fortnight, in the shoes of the frontline fortnight, development fortnight, etc.
  • Use week notes to share what you’re doing on the change (with diff guest writers) & 2–3 diff projects each week
  • Run monthly show & tells open to the organisation on issues your team is trying to tackle with calls to action

Head of Strategy (Communities) @camdencouncil #localgov Director @euroalter Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese