Are we in a housing sector of dinosaurs, dolphins or monkeys? Not often I have asked myself that one, but an event this week at Richmond Housing Partnership, in Teddington did pose the question. The day was about the art of innovation, with its own hashtag #AOI16 of course.
RHP know a bit about innovation, coming top in the Dolphin Index, named for the second year running in 2016, as the "UK's most innovative housing provider".
I learned much about how they managed this culture shift, in a sector that frankly at times can be stuck back in the days when the stock was managed at the council. The index model breaks down the survey results into 13 key topic areas ranging from idea time and risk taking through to stress and dynamism levels.
For me the key takeaway was the whole teal thinking philosophy taken with staff. Give them a brilliantly creative environment, trust them to just get on with the job you give them, celebrate & learn from mistakes. Encourage your staff to think differently, you don't need to employ a team of Shoreditch hipsters with beanie hats, recognise that your innovators probably already work for you.
A bit different from the usual top-down 'Command and Control' we usually see in housing. RHP took an emphasis on finding the right big problems to fix and encouraged staff to think differently. Risk taking was encouraged and everyone encouraged to have opinions and share them, to drive improvement.
Events like this are nothing without a grand tour and we took in the tree house, conservatory and the cabinet of curiosities. A video booth for staff to share experiences and ideas, was something I really liked. Better than an email or a post-it. There were also lots of open space. How claustrophobic many office spaces are these days. Admittedly, every housing organisation will have the room to spread out, but it does make for fantastic workspaces.
At the event I met probably more of my fellow Twitter followers in the flesh, than ever before in one room. Brilliant to meet Ade Capon, Emma Maier, Jen Barfoot, Amy Nettleton, Tom Pinder and Amanda Carver. Together with Amy (totes deserved!), we scooped the 'King & Queen of #AOI16 Twitter' awards, with a bottle of bubbly to go back north with us, as well as such a lot of great ideas to move our organisations and the sector forward.
Unless the sector embraces innovation for our staff, IT, processes and systems, we risk we will die as dinosaurs.
You can find further information out about the 2016 innovation index here.
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Ian Brown - Dolphins were Monkeys.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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