Yesterday was a busy day in the Lab as we took part in the HouseMark Business Learning Programme. Paul gave an introduction to programmeOne and the story of our service design journey, with Simon and I hosting a session on the Lab approach and how it is an integral part in shaping the direction of Bromford as a business.
Followers of the Lab will know that it was started from a place of giving colleagues a space to think differently about the problems they faced and support them in designing solutions that would push the business forward. This was only 4 years ago, but this has evolved significantly from conception to the current state, particularly as we align our activities more with strategy and our own transformation programme. Now, although we still have a physical space, when we talk about the Lab, we are referring to it as a way of thinking, not somewhere where we all wear white coats and play with fun gadgets all day long.
One of our biggest insights has been that whilst creative teams generally resist being too close to organisational strategy, you do need strong links to it, otherwise none of the good work or ideas that come from design thinking can scale. A human centred design approach also means an appreciation that not one size fits all and whilst standardisation can drive efficiencies, it needs to be deployed in the right area, at the right time, in the right manner to positively enhance your service offer.
Making decisions based on what we think we know can be dangerous and costly.
If we understand people’s needs and wants we can make decisions based on insight, both quantitative and qualitative. That’s important because if we just think we know, all we are doing is making stuff up. The Lab is actually, therefore, the antithesis of an ivory tower; what we are doing is moving Bromford to a position where everything we do is based on some form of evidence and customer insight.