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By Paul Taylor 

Immediately before we launched Bromford Lab I took some advice from a contact who'd been involved in setting up a major European innovation function. 

Her advice was pretty straightforward: 

Do NOT - under any circumstances - let them set you any targets. Targets corrupt. They’ll encourage you to make bad ideas work and rush the good ones to meet deadlines. They’ll kill you in year one

Her reasoning was spot on. She cited an example of a colleague who'd been targeted on the amount of "new product" that was pushed into the organisation.

You can imagine what happened when her team realised they were woefully short of their end of year targets. They dropped the standard of their work and began pushing inferior product that wasn't properly tested or evaluated. The organisation became infected by products that didn't solve the right problems. The Lab failed and was wound up.

If we were to have any targets in our debut year there could be only one - and that was the pitch we did to the Bromford executive team: 

75% of what we work on will fail. You’re funding failure. But 25% will be cool stuff we’ve never done or realised we could do

We'll be reporting on how we did against that very shortly. However we've recently been asked to develop a new set of objectives for 2015-16.

Typically for the Lab - we want our thinking to take place in public. We had a quick session to understand the problem and our thoughts were these:

  • If we've got to have targets can we at least try to innovate how targets are formed and evaluated?
  • We won't have targets that feed the machine - we want to have things that are useful to the Lab and our audience.
  • We want to retain a failure incentive - we want to stop ourselves polluting the organisation with crap.
  • We need to capture the things that have happened as a result of the Lab , even if our footprint was relatively small. This includes pilots that resulted in cost savings or higher cost/better customer experience. 
  • We want to capture the difference the Lab network is making - how is Bromford changing because of our growing number of followers and contributors?
  • We want everything publically accessible - including our costs. 
  • We need to research what other Labs do well around performance and transparency but we won't slavishly copy anyone. 

Let us know any thoughts here or on Twitter. We'll be publishing our final dashboard soon.

(Except we don't like the word dashboard so we'll call it something else!) 

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