Housing Associations and Innovation

So there’s been a spot of controversy over on twitter about Housing Associations and innovation.  @psfnick has summarised it all here: http://www.pscsf.org.uk/2014/06/6914/  and given himself a little challenge of finding 140 HA innovations in 140 hours.  I reckon he’ll probably make it – good luck Nick!

I’ve left a comment on Nick’s blog, but its currently stuck in moderation.  Hopefully he’ll let it out and see the light of day soon – I don’t think its *that* controversial.  But here it is, (in case it gets mangled by the Disqus gremlins…) and I’ve added a link to the GDS blog post to it.


Interesting. I do like a bit of debate. So I think I’ll probably put my tin hat on and get it from both sides here.

We do a lot of innovation work at TVH. Innovation in terms of the business model – our investment in our private rented sector business, www.fizzyliving.com . And innovation in terms of our service delivery of the core business with MyTVH (http://www.tvha.co.uk/2014/06/… ) – our online customer services.

My particular passion is actually around innovation in the core landlord service delivery and doing it online – and that’s MyTVH.  That’s absolutely anchored in getting things right for the customer, that matter most to the customer – so repairs, estate services and their rent accounts. Not massively sexy or headline grabbing.  And to be honest, not massively “innovative” in tech terms – plenty of other sectors have been doing online service delivery for ages. But it is innovative for our sector. Why? Loads of reasons. Probably because the big vendors haven’t had a great service offer for the sector, because we’re a bit risk averse when it comes to trying new things in tech, because there hasn’t been much digital DNA in our organisations. Till now.

Now things are changing. And the digital DNA in our sector is finding its feet and its voice. But it’s new, so not every idea that’s floated will turn into a real solid thing. That’s like asking for a dollop of innovation that’s risk free and guaranteed to work every time. So, easy as it might be to get sniffy at stuff that sounds “pretty out there”, I’m up for giving people the space to think out loud, create, experiment, and get things wrong too. And that goes for all the things that we do beyond bricks and mortar, the things that make neighbourhoods great places to live, or things that build the social fabric in our communities. Its not all broken Britain and benefits street.

But I’m also going to stick my neck out and say I’m mostly interested in moving from TALKING about it, to DOING it. To quote GDS, “the strategy IS delivery”. Great words are nowt without a good solid bit of delivery.

Getting side tracked into a debate about whether we are or aren’t innovative, means my energy isn’t going into DOING it. Probably does generate a few more eyeballs for a column in IH though 🙂

Right. Tea break over, back on your head Hilditch. FOCUS.

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