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One of the key tools that we use within the NHS Institute is observation. It is a technique that we have taken from the worlds of design and ethnography. The principles of observation are already incorporated into a number of our products (such as Productive Ward).

We have created a simple tool for use in workshops that demonstrates the power of observation.

It helps NHS staff to realise that taking a step back and looking at their service with fresh eyes can be an incredibly effective way of understanding how they can improve the care that they deliver.

What is the purpose of this pack?

This pack contains a short exercise that can be used with groups to help them experience the different perspective that observation can bring. The purpose is to help people see and experience the potential value of observation so that they may consider using observation within their projects.

What is in this pack?

- This note about observation

- How to run the exercise

- DVD – with a scene of someone walking down a busy street

- Cards of different characters to be used in the exercise


How to use this pack?

  1. Tell participants that you are going to show them a short DVD. Ask them to watch and make notes about things they notice
  2. After watching the DVD spend a short time getting them to discuss what they noticed
  3. Distribute the character cards, explain that the cards contain different characters, and when watching the DVD for the second time they should take on the ‘persona’ of their given character
  4. Get them to read their character cards
  5. Play the DVD again and ask participants to make notes about things they notice from the viewpoint of their character
  6. Ask participants to discuss what they noticed on watching the DVD for the second time. Ask them to specifically note any differences from when they first watched the DVD
The Observation DVD is available from the NHS Institute, please click here for further information.