Housing sector

10 tips from leaders in the housing industry

As housing associations adapt to the post-Covid-19 era, the sector’s operating models are changing. Alistair Sharpe-Neal of Campbell Tickell and Ian Wright of the Disruptive Innovators Network present ten important operational transformation lessons that housing leaders should reflect on in the wake of the pandemic-induced crisis.

1) Covid-19 can be a catalyst for lasting change
The pandemic may have been a Black Swan event, but innovative organizations can use it as a way to make long-needed change. This is a chance that should not be wasted.

2) If you innovate, do it quickly and be flexible
Innovation is often hampered by a “business as usual” attitude, or by the belief that everything has to be right the first time. But innovation should be an iterative process: be prepared to adapt and learn as you go.

3) Listen to customer needs and expectations
The world has changed and so your customers’ needs have most likely changed. A real effort to understand their new needs will improve the way you do business.

4) Information and data are vital
It’s almost impossible to improve customer service unless you really know who your customers are. When it comes to services, transformation programs must be driven by data.

5) Be ready to invest to sustain
New business models that drive real change may require investments to make them happen, whether those investments are in people, equipment or training. But a short-term financial blow could be key to dramatically improving long-term efficiency and performance. There are also inherent dangers in trying to get too lean too quickly, leaving leaders without the mental capacity to think about the business beyond its day-to-day operations.

6) Trust your collaborators and take them with you
Culture is perhaps the most important part of the puzzle when redesigning operating models. If your employees have not embraced the changes you are making, these changes will be ineffective and even counterproductive.

7) Be flexible about when and where your staff work
The decentralized and flexible workplace will change the way you provide services to your customers and how you recruit, train and retain staff. Flexibility will not be the same for all companies, but every company must be open to flexibility.

8) Don’t be afraid to recruit disruptors
Maximizing your ongoing efficiency in a rapidly changing environment – ​​where we continue to see change – requires new approaches. Make sure the people you hire are comfortable with flexibility and are willing to challenge old ways of working.

9) Look for ways to say “yes”
Focus on creativity and innovation. Give people space to develop new ideas. Recognize that many or most may not be realistic or achievable in practice, but appreciate that some are and can help positively transform the way you provide services to your clients.

10) Listen to the voice of the customer
Deploy a range of means to hear what your customers want and involve them as much as possible in decision-making. Make sure you hear all of their voices (not just the “usual suspects”). Being upfront with your clients about what is feasible and what may not be deliverable will be well received.

This article was previously published in the study “New Business Models in Social Housing” by the Disruptive Innovators Network and Campbell Tickell.