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Google Glass Collaboration


Google Glass Collaboration

SCROLL DOWN

Google Glass Collaboration


Google Glass Collaboration

Today we had two guests from a local hospice who were keen to explore ways the lab could help them - principally investigating the ways our lab methodology and Google Glass headset could improve their service for customers and colleagues. 

It was a real quick, focused session - lasting about 45 minutes in total during which we: 

  • Discussed different applications for the technology

  • Delved into the feasibility of each application and weighed it against the benefits

  • Chose an application and identified ways we could scale back for small tests

  • Developed resource requirements for it to succeed (Accessibility/Wifi, Live Streaming from the glasses to a remote source, Security and confidentiality safeguarding)

In the end we figured we don't have the expertise from our previous tests to definitely say the technology could do all we would ask. So we decided to loan the hospice the Google Glass for two weeks, not to test in a live clinical environment but to see what's possible with the tech. If everything comes up trumps, we'll start developing a service offer, measurements and method for a small pilot. 

Live streaming to a remote location is a really interesting prospect which we could undoubtedly use within Bromford, so as far as the lab is concerned we're happy for them to do the leg work! Secondly, we're constantly developing our lightweight pilot pipeline and creative tools - so any feedback or endorsement from our involvement with this hospice will only strengthen our network and encourage more partners to come forwards and work with us. 

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Playing With Sugru


Playing with Sugru 

Playing With Sugru


Playing with Sugru 

april 7th

The Lab MakerSpace: Could Sugru become an essential feature of all #ukhousing homes?

The Lab MakerSpace: Could Sugru become an essential feature of all #ukhousing homes?

Many of you will already know about Sugru - the mouldable glue that turns into rubber.

It's a true innovation success story.

The idea for Sugru was conceived by Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh when she was a Art student whilst using mixtures of standard silicone sealants and sawdust in her work.

The problem Jane sought to fix was simple:

“I don’t want to buy new stuff all the time. I want to improve and re-imagine the stuff I already have so it works better for me.

Over the next 7 years she developed the idea of a substance that was moldable, self-adhesive and self-curing. Her goal was to enable people "to easily and affordably repair, improve or customize things they already own.

In 2010 TIME Magazine listed Sugru alongside the iPad as one of the years top 50 inventions. 

So if it's not new why is sugru in bromford lab?

Part of the Lab remit is to get innovations into the hands of people who might otherwise have not heard of them. It's going to be a while yet before we can get a 3D printer into every home - but sugru is available and affordable. 

We've already posted on the idea of a makerspace on every street, but what about if every tenant was given a pack of sugru to make simple fixes around the home?

Could a £13 pack save expensive call outs to fix things?

Could we develop an online space where people can share the home hacks they have made with their community? 

We are going to be asking some groups of residents to trial this for us and see what creativity they can unleash! 

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A Lesson in Customer Involvement


A Lesson in Customer Involvement

A Lesson in Customer Involvement


A Lesson in Customer Involvement

2ND APRIL

This week Jarrod (from the Bromford Comms team) and I visited the Telegraph's head office to check out their user experience (UX) lab.

I can appreciate the differences between the organisations  - not least in the signing of an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when we got there. They are a highly competitive business in which trade secrets have to be protected. In the Bromford lab, the impetus has always seemed to be on open and transparent practices - our public trello boards and website embody this.  The Telegraphs iterative, well considered approach meant they had something pretty much ready to launch following a test period, whereas tackling moon-shot ideas is core to Bromford Lab's purpose - we'd be lucky to implement 25% of what we try out. 

> Click here to see what we're currently working on in the Lab (external link) 

So, what could we learn from the Telegraph, seemingly worlds apart from our own housing ecosystem?

Satisfied customers - that's what this is all about. Here you can see our customer persona's - some of the earlier work underpinning Bromford Squads.  Now lets spend less time talking about them and more time talking to them! 

Satisfied customers - that's what this is all about. Here you can see our customer persona's - some of the earlier work underpinning Bromford Squads.  Now lets spend less time talking about them and more time talking to them! 

In both organisations senior leadership identified the need to understand and improve the experience of its users. Neither organisation had the faculty for this, so they created labs where rigorous user testing could take place and valuable insight sought.

The Telegraph UX team were conducting such tests the day we arrived and it was fascinating to see their approach - methodical and scientific , not leaving anything to chance.  It's in their best interest to ensure media is well received by customers of all shapes and sizes because that's what generates sales. The Bromford Lab have been implementing a similar testing framework; we know we've really got to understand our products and services inside out if we're ever going to make routine interactions as smooth as possible for our customers.  We're not 'competing' for customers in the same sense, but the benefits of great customer service should be felt throughout our business. 

We use a 'two week sprint' test phase in the lab, but they've sometimes become unhinged by complex problems. The Telegraph user experience (UX) guys ran a similar process, but were more involved in exploratory testing that we'd been so far, particularly with customers. I'm keen to try this out more in our 'problem definition' stages, which currently rely heavily on colleagues. Opening this up to customers early is a really exciting prospect and something I know we're focusing more on in the coming weeks (Jarrod left the Telegraph with a noggin full of ideas about 'Web 3.0'...).

Click through for an example of overly complicated testing - what we learned from our first Google Glass experiment. 

Click through for an example of overly complicated testing - what we learned from our first Google Glass experiment. 

So, what's on my personal tick list from the visit? 

1) Engage with more customers...

2) ...earlier in the design process

3) Help build incremental innovation into the structure of the upcoming squads. Maybe something along the lines of Ricoh's innovation approach? 

4) Put my money where my mouth is on points 1, 2 and 3. Yikes.  

 

> Click here to read more about Bromford Squads

 

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What If John Lewis Did Older Persons Services?


What if John Lewis did older person services?

What If John Lewis Did Older Persons Services?


What if John Lewis did older person services?

march 31st

Today the Lab played host to Hellen Bowey and Alexandra Eavis the inspirational founders of Alcove. It's a service that marries cutting edge tech with a re-imagined customer experience for people for who want to live independently at home.

"We've tried to imagine how John Lewis or Bang & Olufsen would do it. They wouldn't put their name to much of what's out there for older people now" said Hellen. 

We wanted Alcove to pay a visit to aid our thinking about the type of services Bromford will be offering to older people. In traditional housing , people aged 55+ (Yep - that's what we considered old) have often been put out to grass and regarded as one homogenous group rather than one with diverse skills , aspirations and experience.

Often those with more complex care needs have had to accept badly designed services and atrocious tech (pull cords and unsightly alarm pendants anyone?). This simply won't do for a generation of baby boomers who've grown older with iPads. 

As Alcove say on their blog

Smart homes and Internet enabled “things” are a novelty for young professionals but have a real value case for people that lack the mobility to let the doctor in the front door or get up to turn the lights on or off.

What we love about Alcove is the design thinking and the focus on the whole customer experience rather than the tech.  And we adore their refusal to accept that tech for older people has to look like crap. It can look - guess what - sexy.

We are currently thinking how best to follow up our meeting and whether we can get some tests done with Bromford customers. 

As ever - watch this space. 

 

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A MakerSpace on Every Street?


A MAKERSPACE ON EVERY STREET?

A MakerSpace on Every Street?


A MAKERSPACE ON EVERY STREET?

march 24th

There's been a lot of talk recently of makerspaces and the potential benefit to communities.

A makerspace is a community operated space where people with common interests - art, computers , tech , fixing stuff - socialise and collaborate. 

We all have lots of things in our homes that are broken, unused or just lying around forgotten. 

We've been wondering how quickly and cheaply we could assemble one.

So we did! We reckon a good one would include:

  • A 3D Printer
  • A tablet or internet connected device
  • A workbench and chairs
  • Lego
  • A 3D doodler
  • Some sugru 
  • A few books (like Howtoons)

And we reckon we could do it for about £1000.

When you think of the millions that have been spent on digital inclusion in the UK - wouldn't it be better to have a makerspace on every street?

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Why Have We Wasted Money on a 3D Printer?


Why Have We Wasted Money on a 3D Printer?

Why Have We Wasted Money on a 3D Printer?


Why Have We Wasted Money on a 3D Printer?

                                             New Tech - always gets a lot of interest!

                                             New Tech - always gets a lot of interest!

march 17th

Today we took delivery of our first 3D Printer - and it could be the best investment we ever make. Or possibly the worst.

One of the things we've learned in Year One of Bromford Lab is it's best to be ultra transparent. People are quite naturally suspicious of new tech and the best way you can disarm them is to demystify it. Let them see it , touch it , feel it.

3D Printers (3DPs) aren't actually new, they were invented in the 1980s. But it's taken 30 years for them to reach the stage where they begin to reach the mass market. It's predicted that 3DP shipments will more than double every year between now and 2018 - by which time they'll be reaching 2.2 million annually.

So why would Bromford be interested?

Well, first of all it's part of the Lab function to get technology out of the hands of geeks and into the hands of customers , communities and colleagues. 

Just unboxing it today and doing an initial test got loads of people interested. People had heard of 3DPs - but many had no idea how they actually worked.

Some of the things we heard people say:

"Imagine if I had one on the back of my van - it would save me going back to the depot!"

"Could we have one in a community centre - so people design and make their own products?"

"Could this print keys to meter cupboards?"

Straight away - it's got people thinking. Imagining the possibilities. And that's the point.

And the cost?

About £600 - the price of a high end smartphone. We think that's worth the punt.

You'll hear all about all our 3DP tests (success or failure!) here.

And we'll be doing a LIVE 3DP test as part of our Lightning Talks this week. Don't miss it - live on YouTube. Details below. 

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Connected Homes


Connected Homes

Connected Homes


Connected Homes

13th march

Today Bromford have played host to guests from Microsoft and Documotive as we begin imagining how the internet of things will affect the lives of our customers.

Microsoft kicked off the session sharing some of the work that has been done by Halton Housing utilising home sensor technology. That was followed up by Documotive who showed how we could devise systems to take useful data from the home and put it in hands of customers and colleagues. 

The main part of the session was to do some thinking about problems we have that a smart home could help us solve.

The things we talked about ranged from the practical to the outlandish:

  • How could sensor technology assist older people in our extra care schemes?
  • Could wearables assist people with drug and alcohol prevention?
  • Could connected bins(!) help spot whether people were coping in their tenancy?

Sensors can now be made that can detect almost anything (even signs of arousal - but we didn't go there..) so the possibilities are endless. 

So where will we start?

It makes sense to link our tests to something practical that customers have already raised as an issue. Therefore we are likely to be anchoring our first tests around better detection of damp in properties and tracking of temperature, airflow and humidity. 

We'll be fleshing this out in a lot more detail and sharing more details soon as well as looking for participants! 

 

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Jargon Killing


Jargon Killing

Jargon Killing


Jargon Killing

16th February 

At the beginning of the month we told you that were shortly to publish our Lab dashboard - making fully transparent all the things we are working on.

Well, where is it? 

We've noticed it's quite a challenge to get language that works for both an internal and external audience. And we want to get it right.

We are putting our hands up. If we're honest - we've noticed that some jargon and project speak has crept into our work. 

Jargon is the enemy of open innovation as it can obfuscate the very simple. 

We like simple. So we're taking a few more days to get our dashboard as simple as possible. 

Transparency is difficult. If it wasn't - more people would be practicing it.

Be with you soon. 


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Skill Swap


Skill Swap

Skill Swap


Skill Swap

10th february

Just before Christmas we noticed some of the ideas that colleagues were pitching to the Lab were very similar. They centered around sharing skills with each other and within our communities. 

Identifying and then sharing skills - what could be simpler?

Well , actually, plenty could go wrong. For a start there was no evidence that the wider colleague base would freely share skills, let alone customers. 

So the concept team decided to do an experiment. Using our internal social network , Yammer, they asked colleagues to post three of their skills , using just three words each. 

Every colleague who took part was required to nominate three other colleagues. Would it work, or would colleagues just ignore it?

Even though we ran it for only seven days , 149 colleagues took part. The skills swapped ranged from blogging to professional pole dancing! 

As a result of the positive test we are looking at building a skills swap function into our internal colleague database. At the same time we'll be looking at the different ways a skills database could benefit colleagues , customers and communities. 

Watch this space and check out the infographic with the results of the experiment!

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Bromford Squads


bromford squads 

Bromford Squads


bromford squads 

9th february

Later today we are launching a new way of working: squads.

The reason we want to test the use of squad working is to add a greater degree of agility to Bromford - as well as bringing some new perspectives. 

We want to be able to test things in shorter periods of time and be able to iterate often without needing approvals that can slow the innovation process down. 

There's four themes we'll be working on this year: 

  • Money: the whole area of affordability from financial capability to jobs 
  • Health: From making sure people have right services for them to reducing loneliness
  • Connected Community: Covering everything about being part of a community and the promotion of local resources 
  • Home: The whole way our properties are maintained and the choices people have about them

Each of these themes will separate into squads – a group of individuals who will be responsible for forming a service offer, and helping us achieve it. Normally they will do this as part of their established roles.

A squad is not a team and will not have conventional management. They will adopt a virtual , transparent way of working through tools such as Trello , Basecamp and Slack. 

One of the benefits of this way of working is that we can co-opt external people onto squads - including customers.

The meeting today is to discuss this way of working - the next steps will the forming of the squads. You'll get updates here as well as on our Lab Dashboard that should be live later this week. 

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Imagine. Change.


imagine. change. 

Imagine. Change.


imagine. change. 

6th february 

On Friday the Lab visited Ricoh , whose UK base is near Telford in Shropshire. Every month we aim to visit one organisation renowned for innovative practices. 

Ricoh has a long tradition of innovation and continuous improvement stretching back to its formation in Japan in the 1930's. 

Ricoh has practiced the principle of Kaizen (In Japanese "Good for Change") since the second world war. 

One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time. Ricoh is a great example of the principle "Think Big. Start Small". 

As our host told us "We'd rather have a million ideas that save £1 than one idea that saves £1,000,000."

And literally everybody is involved in the improvement process. People are given small incentives to provide suggestions (£1 vouchers cashable in the canteen). Coming up with ideas is built into the performance and appraisal system.

They've turned their entire global workforce into a giant innovation lab. 

We'll be keeping in touch with Ricoh and trying some of their techniques in the Bromford Lab.

Watch out for more on Ricoh over on the Paul Taylor blog next week. 


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Networked Organisations


Networked organisations

Networked Organisations


Networked organisations

February 4th 

Today we welcomed Esko Reinikainen and Jo Carter from The Satori Lab to Bromford Lab to compare our approaches to innovation and change. 

Satori Lab help organisations unlock their knowledge and innovation potential through people development, education and change programmes.

Whilst Bromford Lab has been set up internally to challenge established thinking, Satori Lab helps others design and build their own approach.

We learned lots. The main things we discussed were:

  • The challenges of moving organisations from hierarchical information age models to the networked employer of the future. 
  • How we reconnect people with why they started working for public services in the first place.
  • How we tap into the talents of people that our job profiles and descriptions fail to tap into.
  • How we join the networked organisation with the networked community and build up skillsets for more effective collaboration. 

One things we'll take away from today and do something with? 

Rather than form conventional teams around some of our lab tests and concepts we are going to throw a few things out there and see who self identifies as wanting to help. 

By connecting people across organisations with common interests you begin to remove silos and move towards the networked organisation. 

Thanks Esko and Jo for inspiring us! 

 

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Mind Your Language


Mind your language 

Mind Your Language


Mind your language 

27th january

Today we hosted a visit from our friends at St. Giles Hospice, who we are working with on the My Home Support pilot

We were demonstrating what we've learned so far in Bromford Lab and discussing how organisations could better collaborate around innovation. 

One of the issues it highlighted is the use of language and jargon in different sectors. The chart below is the jargon buster for Bromford Lab and it works for us. However the use of the word 'test' wouldn't work in a health or clinical environment. It could lead people to believe that testing was taking place on patients!

We are refining our language as we go so it works across the multiple sectors that the Lab connects with. Think of this as a 'test' jargon buster...


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Turning an idea into a business case


turning an idea into a business case 

Turning an idea into a business case


turning an idea into a business case 

january 15th

It's easy to have ideas - but how do you turn them into something tangible? And how do you get the organisation to buy into resourcing a pilot?

Here's our latest infographic on how we garner internal support for new initiatives..

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How can we make reports less boring?


How can we make reports less boring? 

How can we make reports less boring?


How can we make reports less boring? 

january 9th

We all know reports can be boring , right?

Each year we spend untold hours producing information that nobody ever reads, but we continue doing it. 

The Lab has had feedback that some of our internal reports can be a little dense. The content was praised but some of detail missed the intended audience.

So we've been asking ourselves what it would take to produce reports infographic style. 

So far we've had great feedback. Perhaps the day is coming when all internal reports will be replaced by graphics....

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Drone Update


Drone Update 

Drone Update


Drone Update 

8th january

Today we've been working with our Property Portfolio team to look at results of the drone test on roofs as recently featured on our blog.

So did the test pass? 

Undoubtedly yes. We've been able to estimate , pretty broad-brush admittedly , the cost of where works are needed. We've also been able to eliminate where works are not needed.

Positives:

  • It establishes where you need scaffolding and where you don't (if at all).
  • It has a significant reduction in cost and time.
  • Less hassle for the customer - there's no disruption of scaffolding. 

Limitations:

  • You need space to take off - that might be difficult in some places!
  • It just can't replace getting up there and having a feel about. 
  • Managing customer expectations. Just because we've sent an exploratory drone up doesn't mean that we'll immediately be doing work. 

We'll do a blog update including the next steps shortly. 

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Getting Better At Failing


Getting better at failing 

Getting Better At Failing


Getting better at failing 

december 22nd 

Every Monday morning we begin the week with Lab Planning - a quick-fire catch up that aims to eliminate the need for meetings.

This mornings conversation was dominated by one topic - we need to get better at failing.

Too many of our concepts are taking too long to develop.  We seriously need to up our failure rate!

Not failing could be a sign our Lab isn't taking enough risks. It could show we are being too cautious and not challenging the organisation enough.

There is also a strong economic argument for failing more. If it takes six months and £50,000 to take a product from idea to launch, then at best you'll get two cycles in a year. However, if you can do a complete cycle of learning in a week for £500, you can get 52 cycles in a year at about half the cost.

Our 2015 resolution? Fail in a way that doesn't kill us. 

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Minecraft Communities


Minecraft Communities

Minecraft Communities


Minecraft Communities

december 19th

In our last round of Lightning Talks, Nic Webb asked if Minecraft could be used to engage communities. 

Minecraft is an online 3D fantasy world where people build structures using digital blocks of glass, sand, brick and other materials. 

Could this digital collaborative experience translate to a face-to-face community? If people learn to work together in a virtual environment, would they work together in the real world?

To begin our Minecraft tests - we drafted in a couple of experts to get us started. You'll be able to read the full story on next weeks blog. 

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Getting Ideas from Customers


Getting ideas from customers 

Getting Ideas from Customers


Getting ideas from customers 

december 16th

Some areas don’t have a residents or tenants association and those that do may find they are withering and dying. Is a residents association necessary?

Can we re-imagine one fit for purpose in the 21st Century?
— Blog comment from Bessy Banks Grave

When we set up the Lab one of the main aims was to get a better flow of ideas into Bromford directly from tenants and other customers. Although we get lots of feedback it's often reflective of past experiences rather than challenging the organisation to move forward.

Today we've been discussing the Bromford SOS Lab that's been set up by the people behind BromfordCustomersUK , a non-affiliated Twitter feed.

The blog was set up by customers who haven't had the best service experience. However - we see huge potential in how the relationship could develop moving forward - particularly the role it could play in acting as a filter of ideas coming into the Lab. 

These are the ideas posted so far with the links:

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # one > How can Social Media help customers receive an improved service?

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # two > Xboxes for all tenants

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # three > Train residents on Bromford policy to help ensure they are followed

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # four > Use #googleglass for annual reviews

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # five > Empower new tenants with information

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # six > Cooling off period and the overlapping tenancy

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # seven > When a response, and an action, is required

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # eight > A 21st Century Residents Association

Into the Bromford_SOS_Lab > idea # nine > Eviction – the ultimate sanction?

It's great we are getting these but how soon can we act on them?

Today we've been discussing a better way of prioritising ideas as well as how we can make it more transparent. Could this include some sort of voting system for customers? Could this be hosted by customers themselves?

We'll be publishing results as we go and posting responses on the Bromford SOS blog. But it feels like we are indeed seeing the beginnings of the next generation of tenant involvement. 

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Drones


Drones

Drones


Drones

December 15th 

It seems a long time since #DroneGate...

Today we've been out doing a full drone test. This time to see whether we can complete roof inspections using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Wouldn't it be easier just to use a ladder? Not in this case, as the buildings in question would require full scaffolding and the need to close down an access road.

So. Was the test successful and what did we learn?

Watch out for our forthcoming blog. 

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The Future of Repairs


The future of repairs 

The Future of Repairs


The future of repairs 

december 12th

Friday saw an initial Lab session for the thorniest subject for any housing association: the repairs and maintenance service.

The repairs service is simultaneously the most loved and loathed thing that a housing provider does. Your home breaking down is always an inconvenience but can also be catastrophic.

There’s no room for error. But inevitably we make them.

This session was as much about framing the questions than providing any answers.

  • What does a future repairs service look like for customers used to the ruthless efficiency of the likes of Amazon?
  • How do we adapt services to cater to an ageing population with an increasing amount of people living on their own?
  • What should the home of the future look like when more and more people will be working from it rather than from an office?
  • And with over a third of adults obese by 2020 how will that impact the way in which people live in and maintain their homes?

We’ll be publishing the full results of our session shortly - it’ll be one of our major innovation themes for 2015. 

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Winter Buddies


Winter Buddies 

Winter Buddies


Winter Buddies 

DEcember 11th 

This morning we welcomed support colleagues Tracey and Marie into the lab, to help shape their service offer for the 'Winter Buddies' pilot and discuss how we'll measure it's legacy after its completion next year. 

Winter Buddies is one of our Asset Based Community Development projects (ABCDs), through which we hope to match volunteers to older people in our communities who are largely confined to the home. These volunteers can help in any number of ways, from providing some companionship at regular visits or helping out with those little tasks that become difficult as the nights grow longer and colder. 

Alun and Richard joined us from the research team, designing robust ways to measure how well the pilot is running - particularly the value of using volunteers over support workers. 

The team also chatted through the obstacles to recruiting, training and allocating volunteers - aspects that tie in with other recruitment concepts we're investigating in the lab at the moment. 

Next steps are to finalise the measures for deployment next week and iron out all the problems in starting up this service.

We've also agreed to combine some of lessons learned here with developing our plans to tap into the skills of older people. 

 

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Working in Reverse


Working in Reverse 

Working in Reverse


Working in Reverse 

December 10th

We were meant to be out doing a full drone test today - but due to high winds all unmanned aerial vehicles have been grounded! 

Instead we are inside planning for two Lab sessions tomorrow. 

The day to day life of a Lab is not about coming up with ideas. It’s about understanding the problems that people are bringing in and helping them explore solutions. 

Our job is not to be creative - but to unleash the creativity of others. 

So it’s about providing the right environment and tools to allow colleagues to reimagine services.

One of of the tools we sometimes use is working backwards. This is where you start with the customer and work backwards until you get to the minimum set of requirements to satisfy what you are trying to achieve. 

We love this fascinating post from Werner Vogels about how Amazon launches products by working backwards.

After an idea is generated they start by writing a press release as if the product or service is ready for launch. They bring it to life.

It’s mocked up with pictures of the product and quotes from (imaginary) customers about how life changing it has been.  It’s passed around internally at the company, so that they can get feedback on the product, and to solicit any questions.

After getting an initial response (did it create a buzz?) and people adding their own ideas (building ideas – never destroying) it’s passed to a product development team to work it up.

When it comes to creativity - starting at the end can be a very good beginning. 

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Bromford Lab - the story so far


Bromford Lab: The Story So Far

Bromford Lab - the story so far


Bromford Lab: The Story So Far

December 9th

Today we've been to our Executive Board to report on lessons learned from the early months of Bromford Lab. 

The first challenge of any Lab is to get internal colleagues to accept it. On this we can report success, far from being defensive, our colleagues have used sessions to critically examine their service areas. They've been open about failings and honest in identifying areas where we are coming up short.

Also - they are pitching ideas. We've had 37 concepts in the Lab so far and people are not being slow in coming forward - it's very bottom-up. This is important as we began with a top down approach to innovation but we now have a very healthy mix of the two.

The other success is that internal barriers and silos - often perceived rather than actual - are being eroded. Any Lab session can contain people from 4 or 5 different parts of the organisation - as well as customers.

Of course there are areas where we need to improve as well.

We've identified that some concepts are not progressing fast enough. We have adopted a much more agile approach to pushing these forward and have agreed to kill off ones that do not seen to be moving. After all , if people are losing interest in an idea it's probably never going to make a great product.

We feel we've been so tied up with getting the Lab working internally we've neglected our wider network. Getting this site up and running is a move in the right direction but we've recognised that 2015 has to see a focus on external and customer contributors.

Finally we are aware of the need to manage expectations from customers and colleagues of how quickly we enter something in the Lab. Often there is a need for more detailed problem definition before we go off creating things.  Ultimately a Lab is a waste of time if it produces lots of things that don't solve the right problems.

Exciting times. We'll be following up on the next steps for Bromford Lab in a future post.

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Gaming at Work


Why we need to play more video games at work

Gaming at Work


Why we need to play more video games at work

Work: Just not as we know it

Work: Just not as we know it

Gaming at Work

Paul Taylor 5th December

I should have predicted the reaction when I tweeted the picture above.

"Wasting customers money."

"Looks like a youth club rather than work".  

What is it that prevents video gaming being integrated within the workplace?

Studies have shown that gaming can improve concentration, decision making and teamwork, yet it's still seen as time wasting within the traditional office.

A recent survey by WorldWinner showed that 80% of online gamers who play on and off throughout a workday said that they are better focussed on work after playing. 72% said they rely on game breaks to help them deal with job-related stress. 

The Lab are using Xbox One in a variety of scenarios and one will be to test how gaming could improve colleague engagement.  We'll be sharing our learning as we go

I'm biased of course: I learned more from Mario than I ever did in school.

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A Fresh Look at Older Persons Housing


A Fresh Look at Older Persons Housing


Redesigning Older People's Services

4th December

Imagining the older persons service of the future is currently in the Bromford Lab. We've already agreed that "older persons service" is a misnomer. We want services that fit people regardless of age.

As part of of our prep work Vicky Green went on tour to visit a range of homes which are purpose built for older people.  She was with three members of the Lab Squad who are looking at this - Jane Turner , Damian Carter and Ria Watson.

Here's Vicky's view:

From the old to the new – we really want to take a fresh view on what it feels like to live in these purpose built schemes. 

We know that customers want to feel proud of their homes, this starts from the kerbside… what does it look like? How plush does it feel when I walk inside? What’s the welcome like? What will it feel like to live here? That’s before you reach your apartment door!

Sadly, with our older schemes – the approach is not great.  Scaffolding surrounded the building, albeit for some much needed roofing improvements – but it didn’t disguise the vivid yellow atriums surrounding the entrance.   Inside, it feels like a place time has forgotten.  Shades of grey and blue dawn the cold hallways.  An unappealing communal lounge has great opportunity, but lacking of imagination.  There are some fantastic design pieces, stain glass windows, beautiful fireplace – but its combined with 1970 décor and uninspiring furniture.

You may think this feels harsh, but we want this to be different.  Inspiring, beautiful and a place to call home!  So plans are afoot – we are starting to reimagine how to re-ignite this place, make it feel magical and corridors that you want to walk through to find friends and enjoy social time.  There is real opportunity here, but change needs to start small.  Changing just one corridor at a time, bringing in colour and life.  Watch this space to see how this fits in with our approach to creating independent living services  for older people.

Next, we popped into our ‘flagship’ scheme in Lichfield.  Great location, secure parking and a quality development.  This place has been thought through, learning lessons from the past and it feels like home.  Customers who live there were using the spaces well – planning social time and enjoying life with the buzzing community.  We are working with local colleges to bring in local artists to create murals and artwork to personalise the corridors.  Customers are already engaged here, and are proud of the place – so it’s about enabling those to make this new building a home.

Finally, we visited one of my favourite buildings, a Georgian building with some 1980’s apartments for older people.  Whilst the apartments are still very much loved the main building is less used. Many years ago we had offices here, but these days it acts more of a storage space.  But the opportunity here is massive.  The original features are a plenty and the place oozes charm.  It sits in the centre of a community and very close to a major city, so how can we make this place a real focus within this community.  We are developing concepts that completely open up this place.  A connected central point that serves its location and the people and businesses nearby.  A place that joins folk regardless of their age!  There are so many ideas starting to buzz…  our intention is to develop a concept that creates a ‘zone’ and we really find out what local people want and need from this beautiful building.  The gardens are tremendous and offer so many opportunities to everyone who lives in the vicinity.

These are just a few ideas that have come out of working with colleagues who are passionate about transforming our places – these places whether old or new are still new homes to our customers and we want them to be proud of them!