6 things we’ve learnt by having an innovation lab
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Launched in 2014, the Bromford Innovation Lab was launched as a way of helping us answer the question: If we did it again, would we do it this way? Ideas are pitched to the Lab from colleagues, customers or anybody interested in how Bromford work.
Here, Innovation Coach Paul Taylor tells us more by sharing the six key things Bromford has learnt along the way.
1. Avoid solutions in search of a problem
We all have lots of ideas every day. Our starting point in the Lab is always: What’s the problem we are trying to fix here? We’ve learnt to be pretty brutal when assessing whether it’s a problem or not. In challenging times for Bromford customers we have to make sure that every penny we spend helps solve something for them, or makes life easier.
2. Every problem is an opportunity
We’ve learnt never to think of problems as a negative. For example, our ageing society is often referred to as a “ticking time-bomb,” however it represents a wonderful opportunity to share the skills, knowledge and life experience of older people for the benefit of us all. If you view all problems as opportunities, then think about ways to re-imagine a process… you’ll find opportunity is absolutely everywhere.
3. Innovation is trying things to see if they work
Most of us can’t tell if we like something or not by reading about it in a report. We need to see it, feel it and experience it. That’s why the Lab focuses on what we call ‘tests’. Tests are typically time-limited, minimal resource and therefore low risk. An example might be mocking something up, like a web page, and asking customers what they think of it. The whole principle is to get things in front of people as soon as possible to reduce spending time and money on potential failures.
4. Failing quickly beats failing slowly
Nobody wants things to fail, but the reality is that nearly 70% of projects fail to meet their intended objectives. Bromford want to avoid this by failing things as soon as possible, building early evidence that what we are trying out stands a good chance of success. It’s never guaranteed, but we believe this approach will save customers money by enabling us to concentrate our resources on new services that will have high impact.
5. Data is a way of showing us what matters
The Lab works closely with our insight team to make sure that we have some proof that what we are working on makes a difference. It’s easy for any of us to tell a good story, but far harder to back that up with evidence. Innovation is not about ideas but impact - and our data geeks (as we prefer to call them) help us focus on the right things.
6. Creativity is intelligence having fun
If you think about when you have your best ideas, it’s probably not when you’re at work. It’s likely to be when you’re doing something you really enjoy - reading a book, watching a movie or listening to music. Our lab approach is deliberately fun as we believe we shouldn’t take things too seriously all of the time. A lot of colleagues we work with will say “I’m not creative” and then come out with the most amazing idea, simply because they relax. It’s a common belief that the best innovators are extroverts - but the opposite is almost always true.
That was my top six but we are learning all the time. You can keep up with Bromford Lab on Twitter @BromfordLab or check the latest news at www.bromfordlab.com.