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So, it’s Christmas Eve and after today, the Lab will be shut until 2nd January. Paul is, of course, on his travels and the rest of us will be enjoying a well deserved break, probably eating far too much and watching Elf on repeat until January (No? Just me then…)

Before we finish though, we thought it would be interesting to briefly reflect on the last year, the articles that were most popular and the launch of our very own #blabchat. Here are just some of the highlights…..

The Wanderer Returned

In August, Tom returned back to the Lab after taking a year’s sabbatical. If you were following his adventures at Badventuring you will know that he had a hell of a year, taking in some breathtaking scenery, doing some really daft shit and breaking himself a little bit along the way. He wrote a blog post all about his key takeaways from the experience called ‘To Run With The Wolves’ and looking back at his musings, it’s clear that not only has his time away helped him, but also all of us as a team move forward and adapt. I don’t think ‘Be More Yak’ is going to catch on anytime soon, but it works for us and we will continue this journey as a slightly dysfunctional, but highly effective team together into 2019.

#blabchat

Back in February, we had the idea to start a monthly live Twitter chat around all things innovation and design, which we called #blabchat. I remember being sat at my laptop on that first Thursday evening, super scared that no one would show up, but people did and the community is growing each month . For us, this was about creating conversations across sector boundaries, stepping outside the confines of housing to pick up new ideas and facilitate new connections and it has delivered in spades. In case you’ve missed any of them, here are all the topics we’ve covered so far this year, along with the links to the round-up posts:

For 2019, we’re going to be continuing the conversation and the next #blabchat will be February 2019 - keep a close eye on our website and Twitter feed for more details about this nearer the time!

The Lab went Live!

One of the things we’ve definitely done more of this year is being brave, putting ourselves out there for the World to see and this peaked when we decided to do our last #blachat of the year via livestream. I think I speak for all of us when I say we were equal parts nervous and excited. It’s like the Big Brother moment when Davina/Emma tells the housemates you are live so please don’t swear. We panicked that we’d have nothing to say and we’d end up with an hour of awkward silence and 1950’s style TV presenter vamping. Thankfully, we all discovered our inner newsreader and it turned out to be a roaring success - not only did people show up, but we had loads of positive feedback about how people really liked interacting with us live. We’re going to do more of it in 2019, not just externally, but internally too, by rebooting ‘The Lab Show’. Just called me the Kate Adie of social media reporting I guess (and with that, back to the studio….)

What Next….

If you are looking back, it’s natural to think about the future, particularly what you want to do differently, improve upon, or stop doing altogether. Next year we intend to keep pushing those boundaries, but we want to go back to Lab Basics. We’ve spent the last 18 months doing a lot of work alongside Bromford’s transformation programme, helping them with exploration and thinking about how some of the service designs may look and feel in the future. programmeOne is pushing along well, and pretty soon, that will be coming into the home straight in terms of the project. Whilst the project has a finite period and an end date, we in the Lab are responsible for making sure Bromford continues to be the best it can be, so we’ll be going back to lots of short form testing, long term horizon scanning and quick wins. We can’t continue to innovate with this.

Top 5 Articles From 2018

Top of The Pops gets a countdown, so we thought it only fair we do one. Same as the UK Official Chart Show often has a mix of new tracks and old ones, our top five most read articles on the Bromford Lab website is the same. Although definitely no mention of sausage rolls in any of these unfortunately….

  1. What’s the difference between a test & pilot? (2015)

  2. Design Fiction: A Tool for Visualising Possible Futures (2018)

  3. Guest Blog: Affordable Housing On The Blockchain (2018)

  4. Reimagining Services & The Work Place: The Halton Housing Story (2018)

  5. The Importance of Understanding People (2017)

All that is left for me to do now is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year from all of us at Bromford Lab. We hope you’ll continue to join us next year for more tests, musings and general chatter!

@ChelleKButler

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