This is the second in a series of six posts exploring the purpose of Bromford Squads.

 Innovation Coach Paul Taylor outlines the thinking that led to the creation of squads.

Almost everyday you will see a new article about the future of work.

We are in a global transition: different generations colliding in the workplace and the old hierarchies breaking down.

We are leaving behind the era of long commutes just to hit the office by 9am.  Moving away from productivity being seen as attending meetings and emailing people who sit next to us.

Instead we are entering an always-on future where play blends with work, where managers disappear and where distributed teams form around the priorities that matter to customers.

 Maybe.

 In truth , whatever the so-called experts say, none of us know this. It hasn't happened yet.

What we do know is that we are experiencing advances in technology that leave our old ways of working looking antiquated. Additionally many of us work in sectors experiencing profound changes to our operating environment.

The experts are right on one thing: standing still just isn't an option.

Bromford took a radical decision about three years ago. It decided to change its customer service offer. Rather than continue with the same offer as everyone else it decided to restate its purpose through the Bromford Deal.

It didn't need to do this. It chose to do the difficult thing rather than continue in the business it knew best.

Bromford now has to think very differently as we move towards mass personalisation rather than a one size fits all model. And thinking differently is not enough – we need to relentlessly test new ideas and initiatives. 

It’s no longer acceptable for teams to run projects that take months to initiate and years to evaluate. We need to act like a startup. A startup with 50 years of experience.

 And that leads us to squads.

Our squads are people who can be called upon to swarm around problems important to customers. Squad members are fluid - they can even swap squad if they feel their talents are not being utilised. 

They are themed around Homes , Community , Money and Health. We will be adding a fifth squad specifically around our colleagues and the future of work.

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. Accordingly squads have power to approve ANYTHING for test – as long as they attempt to solve a problem for the customer.

They will adopt a virtual , transparent way of working through tools such as Trello and Basecamp. They will be expected to share generously and often. We want colleagues highly engaged with what is going on.

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

The measure of the squads is simple:

  • Does it mean we experiment more?
  • Does it distribute knowledge more effectively and engage the network?

You will be able to keep up with squad work by following us here. If you want to get more involved you can sign up to be a Lab Tester, where you will get additional news and invitations to take part in tests.

 In our next posts we will look in more detail at the problems the squads are attempting to fix.

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