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SFHA Innovation & Future Thinking Programme

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SFHA’s Innovation and Future Thinking programme brings our members and other stakeholders together to collaboratively develop new ideas and solutions for the future.  Our purpose is a collective ambition to broaden and strengthen the sector’s contribution to social justice and inclusive growth. 

The programme aims to be: 

  • Inspirational – incorporating international and ‘out of sector’ inputs to promote radical thinking and fresh approaches 

  • Customer focused – using design-led approaches which put people at the centre 

  • Evidence-led – building ideas and solutions based on robust research and insight 

  • Sustainable – developing capacity for the housing sector to continue to innovate on an on-going basis. 

We have three key streams of work within the programme:   

Home of the Future 

Innovation in design, construction and maintenance will deliver improved quality and services andimportantly maintain affordable rents. The home of the future will be designed around the individual understanding the needs and desires and implement into development and property services. 

Our Aim: To influence the housing sector to future proof homes by working with the construction sector and its customers, hence reducing isolation, boosting  connectivity, centralising adaptations,ensuring “a place for everyone” and providing great homes for all.  

Service Transformation 

Digital technology and culture improvement will aid how housing associations are transforming andevolving.  Encouraging staff development to construct a more agile and dynamic team, be more responsive to customers' needs can strengthen user experience.  Digital change will transform the landscape of communication, operations and data. 

Our Aim: To demonstrate that understanding how customers and users experience services is key too creating and delivering best practice through involving residents in the service design and decision-making process.   Support and motivate organisations transforming services to digital approaches to ensure value, efficiency and effectiveness.  

Tackling Poverty and Demonstrating Impact 

Housing associations strive to support the lives of, and where needed build resilience in, residents and the communities that they serve.  We, as a sector, can join forces to provide the protection, careand opportunity to evade the hardship faced by many.  

Our Aim:  To showcase and provide tools and resources to measure the social housing sectorsimpact and use this to influence future plans and business strategies, and to secure new or continued funding and investment. . Work with the sector to improve services to enable increasedphysical, mental and financial wellbeing in communities 


Innovation & Future Thinking Programme Icon Innovation & Future Thinking Programme

A year of creativity, digitalisation and modernisation: SFHA IFT Programme reflections

Part of our transformation in 2020 series of articles, showcasing a range of good practice and new ways of working from our members, partners and SFHA.  

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tags : Insight / Future thinking / Innovation / Innovation and future thinking

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SFHA’s Innovation and Futures Thinking programme brings our members, and other stakeholders, together to collaboratively develop new ideas and solutions for the future. Our shared starting point is a collective ambition to broaden and strengthen the sector’s contribution to social justice and inclusive growth.  

Throughout 2020, the programme has launched toolkits and offered training and project opportunities.  

Social Value Toolkit

Our Impact Team and Social Insight Lead Michael McLaughlin created the Social Value Impact Tool to measure and demonstrate housing associations’ impact. The aim of the toolkit is to help the sector to continue to develop good practice, share learning and understand how social value will increase positive change in communities.   

Digital Check-up

In partnership with SCVO, SFHA developed the Digital Check-up Tool to enable housing associations to find out their digital maturity index score to help improve your it and share sector learning.  

Inclusive Living

The Home of the Future Innovation team focussed on the importance of bringing the housing, construction and health sectors together to create a vision for future living. Research led by Dr Vikki McCall, Jill Pritchard and Trudi Tokarczyk saw the publication of the Inclusive Living Evidence Review to show how inclusive design can help to tackle inequality and encourage social inclusion, connections and relationships. The research led to the creation of our Inclusive Living Toolkit: Checklist Tool to help housing associations and co-operatives to explore how they can incorporate inclusive design into their developments. SFHA is inviting members to get involved in its inclusive living project – please get in touch via email

Service Design

Service design is a key area of focus for SFHA members. In February 2020, SFHA partnered with the Scottish Government to provide a three-day training course, delivered by Open Change, as an introduction to service design. Those who attended learned practical techniques such as user research, project scoping, personas, journey mapping, and ideation. There was also an excellent introduction to prototyping. Due to the popularity of the course, we offered a second two-day training workshop which focused on redesigning reactive repairs during the pandemic. The SFHA Innovation and Future Thinking Team has now created a group of service leaders who work together to help each other put into practice what they’ve learned. 

Innovation for Members

We now have a member offering from our Innovation team on The Foundation of Innovation which explains the theory behind innovation and collaboration, with activities and tools focusing on areas such as problem solving, customer experiences and facilitation.  

SFHA Live! Innovation Events

With the launch of our virtual events programme, SFHA Live!, Trust Housing Association delivered a webinar on how it is embracing change and empowering a culture of continuous improvement through its in-house programme for staff, Trust Lab. You can watch back a recording of the webinar here.

Dutch housing association Mitros demonstrated how it achieved a new way of working by creating a fully digital housing association, Qlinker. You can watch the recording of Qlinker's digital masterclass here.

SFHA IFT Programme 

Under our three work streams, we have established aims to enable the housing sector to grow and be successful and influential. 

Home of the Future
Our aim: To enable the housing sector to future-proof homes, by working with the construction sector, to reduce isolation, boost connectivity, design all homes for all ages and abilities and provide great homes for all.   

Service Transformation  
Our aim: Through involving residents in the service design and decision-making process, demonstrate that understanding how customers and users experience services is key to creating and delivering best practice.  Support and motivate organisations to transform their services to digital approaches to ensure value, efficiency and effectiveness.   

Tackling Poverty and Demonstrating Impact  
Our Aim:  To showcase and provide tools and resources to measure the social housing sector’s impact and use this to influence future plans and business strategies and to secure new or continued funding and investment. Work with the sector to improve services that enable increased physical, mental and financial wellbeing in communities 

Innovation fun fact

Did you know, Samsung developed a group, the ‘creative elite’, to drive and take lead on new ideas and projects. They ensure the organisation are primed to incorporate best practice and yield maximum success on key performance indicators. 

Twitter: @InnovationSfha  

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