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Six simple ways to innovate at work

Blog by Lorna Wilson, SFHA Innovation and Future Thinking Lead.

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“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin

I have the privilege of leading the SFHA Innovation and Future Thinking Programme, sponsored and facilitated by the Wheatley Group.

The programme brings SFHA members and others together to develop new ideas and solutions on the following areas: Home of the Future, Service Transformation and Tackling Poverty and Demonstrating Impact.

Here are six tips which have worked for me: 

1. Make work fun 

Innovation starts with people, not technology. Introduce easy, informal ways for people to come together to think out loud about issues, and they will relax, get creative, feel involved, and generate great ideas together.

2. Create space and time for innovation 

While the aim may be to embed innovation across everything, it does need a particular mindset, so build in specific space and time away from the day job to think positively; listen to, understand and nurture ideas; and allow the magic to happen.

3. Find new voices 

Bringing people together from as many different perspectives and backgrounds as possible will broaden and deepen conversations and lead to better outcomes.

4. Start with a stakeholder map 

Who else might have an interest in what you’re doing?  Many organisations are trying to do the same things individually, in your sector and beyond. We found that when you have shared aims, building partnerships is actually quite simple.

5. Get the basics right first 

One of the core building blocks for innovation is information – understanding why, what, who, when, and how you collect and use data. Start with this first, and you’ll have a great foundation for the future. Miss this out, and you’ll be limited in what you can achieve.

6. Focus on action 

Commit to doing or creating something almost straight away. Instead of talking about it or aiming for perfection, just try something, learn from it, and then continue to make it better.

A recent independent evaluation found that SFHA’s Innovation and Future Thinking Programme has broadened the opportunities and space for thinking and development about the future of housing in a collaborative way. I’m particularly pleased that, as well as enjoying being involved, participants’ perceptions and confidence in leading innovation individually, in their organisations, and across the sector, has increased. What a great position to be in as we move into the second phase of the programme, which will be even bigger and better.


Join our housing innovation community: 

  • Visit the SFHA website to keep up to date with the programme and opportunities to get involved 

Follow me on Twitter @LornaSFHA and share your thoughts and ideas