A multi-award-winning housing association is pioneering a new approach to innovation.
In what is thought to be the biggest event of its type in the sector, believe housing held a three-day ‘innovation academy’ to tackle some of the biggest questions the organisation faces. The Seaham-based housing association brought together hundreds of employees from across the business to consider issues like induction of new staff post-coronavirus, and how best to communicate with customers in an ‘always-on’ world.
The academy brought in guest speakers from other sectors, and experts in putting innovation into practice. They were able to provide examples from fast-paced sectors like retail on how innovation made a real difference and gave their organisation a competitive edge.
Each of the days, took inspiration from science, art or magic, posing questions about how different approaches to innovation could produce results. Employees from believe housing were then given the opportunity to pitch their ideas and solutions … in suitably creative ways.
Director of Culture and Transformation at believe housing, Julie Brayson, said: “Our ethos is that anyone in the organisation should be able to innovate. This academy approach was about harnessing the creativity that exists in every part of believe housing and experimenting with new ways to bring out their innovative ideas.
“Our people are passionate about innovation and moving the organisation forward for the benefit of everyone, but particularly our customers. The academy gave an opportunity for colleagues to really think big and talk about ideas that they might not otherwise have shared.”
Ideas that were pitched included the use of algorithms to best match customers to the support they need, and virtual reality technology ensure new recruits fully understand the organisation.
The event was such as success that believe housing are already looking at expanding the concept and inviting other organisations in the region, and the affordable housing sector, to take part.
“It might sound like a bit of an oxymoron, but innovation needs a process to get things started,” Julie added.
“You need to be certain you’re tackling the right issues and you need to make the solutions you devise deliverable, even if that’s through a pilot scheme or similar. The innovation academy approach helps massively and brings some really great solutions to the table. I can’t wait to develop things further.”