On Wednesday, I found myself at the Worcester Warriors Stadium, mingling with Bromford’s leadership team. Don’t worry, I didn’t just stumble in there uninvited - I was lucky enough to be one of 25 colleagues that had won a place at the table to hear first hand the new strategy that was going to shape all that we do in Bromford over the next 3/4 years.
Random fact - I’m a huge strategy geek. It was my favourite module in my degree and I love to have a plan, no matter small, for just about every aspect of my life. Boring, I know, but being someone who naturally has a mind that goes 100mph and gets distracted easily, it helps maintain a certain amount of focus if I at least have a plan on what I’m trying to achieve and how I might achieve it!
That’s all a strategy really is at the end of the day - a set of goals you are trying to achieve alongside a plan on how you will achieve them with the timeframe to do it in.
This was an exciting afternoon because this was the first time anyone outside the Senior Leadership Team had heard the new plan for the next 3/4 years. We’ve come a long way since our partnerships with Merlin and Severn Vale Housing were completed, creating an organisation that is not only large in numbers and geographical spread, but also in passion and vision. To be able to hear from Robert Nettleton, CEO of Bromford, direct from the horses’ mouth was a real treat and he opened the day with a great presentation around his vision for the organisation, highlighting activities he felt Bromford should be making their focus, as well as being really candid around the things that should no longer be. Fear not, this isn’t a bad thing - what his message was saying is that we need to stop trying to be all things to all people. It makes much more business sense (and delights customers more) when we stick to what we are really good at or focus on improving our core activities of providing safe, decent homes for people to live in- let the experts take care of the stuff we aren’t.
The new strategy isn’t due to be launched until the beginning of April 2019, so I won’t spoil it for everyone else by putting the finer details in this post (plus Comms would kill me!) However, my biggest takeaway which I can share publicly was:
Innovation & Design As A Function Is More Important Now Than Ever Before…
Now, this isn’t just me being dramatic - there are many goals attached to this strategy and our team is well placed to work with colleagues to help make these a reality. This could be by helping people to laser in on the areas they want to explore through facilitating design sessions or problem definition workshops right through to designing tests and proof of concept work for ideas that are already tangible but just need a bit of a push to get going.
The scary thing was that so many colleagues in the room didn’t even know we existed…
If you are a follower of the Lab, you’ll be aware that we’ve started holding monthly team sessions around ‘Designing Our Lab’ - Simon has been leading on this and he recently wrote a blog post about this process. One of the key things we know we have to work on is our internal brand, so we’ve been brainstorming the best way to do this, particularly given we have a much wider audience to reach now. The good news is that whilst we may still have a long way to go until we are well known by all aspects of the organisation, everyone I spoke to at the event on Wednesday were so excited to hear about what we do, we’d pretty much be pushing at an open door.
(If you are a colleague reading this, we’d love to hear from you around sharing what we are doing, just drop us a line at email@example.com!)
The Innovation & Design function is also integral to ensuring Bromford consistently pushes forward and is at the forefront of leading positive change in the sector. Robert himself said that whilst this new strategy will set us on a new and exciting path, as an organisation we constantly need to evolve and improve. As an in-house design team, this is precisely what we are built to do but we often face challenges when trying to land work packages that are a little bit more forward thinking. This isn’t a shock - after all, most colleagues are focussed on delivering the near and short term goals, so if I’m trying to raise resource to test something out that is a) going to benefit you in 5 years time and b) might not even work anyway, of course there will be push back.
Now we have had sight of the new strategy, we’ve taken the decision as the Lab to redesign our Trello board to reflect the new plan, as opposed to aligning it with our transformation programme goals. Not only will this show our work is stand alone from programmeOne (colleagues often confuse us with the wider project team), it will also make it clear to colleagues which areas of the strategy each piece of our work relates to, as well as detailing the planned timeframe for the work and any design documentation we have created to support. You’ll start to notice the changes go live at the beginning of April and as always, we’d love to hear from our community what you think about it!
As well as the strategy, Bromford will also launch its new colleague DNA in April, redesigned with colleagues to represent the one organisation we have become. I’m really excited about seeing this come to life as myself and Paul were involved in this piece of work, but more than that, it solidifies what it means to work for Bromford. As part of the event, we were challenged in our tables to vocalise what we would do differently and how we would lead by example to other colleagues that might need a bit of support with the new ways of working. There were some great ideas and I’m sure we’ll see a couple of them entering into our design pipeline very soon!
N.B: One thing I cannot stress enough (and I’m sure the people on my table we’re sick of hearing it!) is that you don’t have to be a line manager to be a leader or an inspiration….I take inspiration from many people, from all walks of life and I’d still consider them a leader whether they were a CEO or a cleaner!
Any who, motivational bit done for now….it’s time for Team Lab to get out there and get stuck into helping colleagues turn this document into a reality….