What’s coming up

We’re kick-starting our regional innovation programmes in 2020, which will cover five phases of work.

January-February 2020: Identify

Identifying the challenges

This phase is to identify the big challenges each region will focus on.

Representatives from housing associations attended regional roundtables and meetings to identify the systemic challenges facing our sector. The challenges identified will:

  • affect a significant number of people
  • have a significant impact on those they affect
  • be a challenge that is likely to get more acute in the future if action is not taken now

A regional steering group will choose one challenge area for each region to collectively solve.

March-June 2020: Insight

Doing the detective work

The key to great innovation is falling in love with the problem. So this phase will focus on gathering lots of insight about the problem highlighted in the Identify phase.

Housing association staff will attend three days of training with innovation experts ?WhatIf! Innovation, where they will learn how to run an Insight Lab workshop.

The Insight Lab workshops are free one-day events organised and facilitated by trained housing associated staff. During the workshops, staff will collaborate to get a deeper understanding of the challenge to be tackled head on.

September-October 2020: Ideas

Preparing the groundwork

Using all the insight gathered in the previous stage, the Ideas phase will bring together housing association staff from across the UK to get a crash-course in how to innovate by working on their strategic challenge.

Facilitated by ?WhatIf! Innovation, this three-day 'hackathon', will see participants immersed in the challenge area they are looking to solve, generate a new idea, build a prototype and then pitch it to a Dragon's Den style panel.

This is a fantastic staff development opportunity in its own right and is also the final selection round for the next phase of the innovation process.

November-December 2020: Incubate

Growing ideas

This phase will develop a new product, service or approach that tackles the challenge identified in the earlier stages.

We will do this by having a team of housing association staff learning to innovate by doing during our 16-week full-time Greenhouse programme. During the Greenhouse, staff will participate in a number of workshops and events:

  • An innovation boot camp: a three-day residential workshop where particpants will learn the innovation process in more detail.
  • Pivot and perservere: three meetings between individual teams and ?WhatIf! Innovation to provide support and help teams to develop their idea.
  • Steering group meetings: three meetings between individual teams and their steering group. These meetings will be an opportunity for chief executives from across the regions to input into the ideas developed by the teams.
  • Midway meeting: a one-day workshop bringing together all teams to collaboratively problem solve the challenges they are facing. The workshop is designed to boost the ideas processes at a critical point in their development.
  • Pitching masterclass: a two-day workshop where teams will learn how to create and perform a successful pitch. This will hone and refine their presentations skills ahead of an event where the teams will present their concepts to the sector.
  • Greenhouse graduation: a one-day event where chief executives from participating associations will hear about how to embed an innovation culture in their organisations. This will be followed by a celebration of the participants' involvement in the programme so far.

January 2020-June 2021: Impact 

Supporting ideas to succeed

This phase of work will support regions to decide whether and how to take forward ideas that have been developed through the Greenhouse.

Housing associations in each region will have the opportunity to bid for the Greenhouse team ideas to enter the Impact phase. Viable Greenhouse ideas will receive tailored business support to help them become a reality. This stage will also include routes to market, as well as links to key stakeholders, accelerator programmes and investors.

This phase will also establish a network and events to support associations to share learnings from the programme, including the barriers to innovation, and how to take back lessons into individual organisations.