Ben Holliday

The roundup. April 2018

A busy month that included the Easter break and a family break to Somerset. In the meantime I’ve been mostly working in London, and we also wrapped up our FutureGov work in Glasgow.


I hit a sweet spot with writing this month.

I made a conscious effort to finish some things I had in draft, setting aside some dedicated time over a weekend. Wrapping up an interesting project or particular piece of work can always get me thinking and producing new materials like I’ve been writing recently. In particular, it’s been good to start publishing blog posts again for the leading service design publication I set up with Kate Tarling last year, drawing from FutureGov project work I’ve been leading.

Here’s a list of everything I’ve published in April:

  • FutureGov in Italy – Public Administration Re-Start: A short blog post about an event I covered in March for FutureGov Italy.
  • The strange becoming familiar: A story about dockless bike schemes and how we quickly adapt to unfamiliar service models.
  • Raise your expectations: This is written for myself as much as anyone else. I’ve now corrected the prominent typo (thanks to all those people who pointed it out).
  • Comparing service design and business analysis: This is my most read and commented on blog post so far this year. Looking at the differences in skills and mindsets required for service design versus business analysis, and how they work together.
  • Working forwards and working backwards: This is a follow up to my service design versus business analysis post. What we can learn from the military about “mapping backwards” and how this applies to service design.
  • Working with design detail: Why prototypes can be more valuable than specifications or documentation.
  • The consultants fallacy: This is an honest reflection and sums up my feelings about a lot of the consultancy work I see being sold into the public sector at the moment.
  • Bias in design: I enjoyed writing this. It sets out why I think that all design is flawed, and why this is okay (especially when you’re looking for magic).


I’ve finished How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb. I’m working on a new reading list for spring and summer which I’ll share here once it’s written up and finished.


No speaking this month outside of project work with FutureGov. I’m still open to speaking at more events later in the year if you want to get in touch with me.


It’s now a year since I accepted the Design Director position at FutureGov. That period of time has gone incredibly fast, especially since handing in my notice with DWP in early May 2017. Things haven’t really slowed down – wrapping up work in Glasgow was a busy week of writing materials and then presenting. Since then I’ve mostly been focussed on working with the design team, and supporting other people’s projects.

A different shape to the month ahead…

I’ll be taking some time out for paternity leave during May as we’re expecting the birth of our fourth child (yes, 4). Expect a (shorter) update then!

This is my blog where I’ve been writing for 18 years. You can follow all of my posts by subscribing to this RSS feed. You can also find me on Bluesky, less frequently now on X (formally Twitter), and on LinkedIn.