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Brilliant lives, brilliant housing associations, brilliant Scotland

Mark Brown, CEO, Dolphin Index, discusses the Brilliant Scotland project which supports organisations to improve culture and be as innovative and as fit as possible. 

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Magic in the tragic 

We are emerging into a new, potentially exciting yet challenging new world. And huge as the tragedy of the virus has been, there has been some ‘magic in the tragic’.  

First of all, we have seen quite extraordinary levels of care for both customers and colleagues.  

We have become digitally smarter faster than perhaps thought possible. We have empowered our colleagues, driven power and decision-making through to those closest to the customer. We have innovated and have become more agile.  

So, having performed in this extraordinary way, one goal of the ‘Brilliant Scotland’ project is to turn what has been ‘business as unusual’ into ‘business as usual’ – so as to keep all the ‘magic’ and so keep being ever more high performing, customer caring, empowering, agile, digitally smart – even ‘brilliant’. 

Secondly, we, and the world at large, are reminded of what important, vital work we do. And this reminder of our deep social purpose has both motivated and lifted us in challenging times.  

Brilliant Scotland seeks to ever enhance our social impact. 

Thirdly, we, and the world at large, have had a brush with death. Some of us have lost family, colleagues, friends and customers. We realise both the fragility and the finite nature of life. Realising this fragility makes us all want to have work lives that have the deepest purpose, are deeply engaging, motivating, stimulating and rewarding.  

Brilliant Scotland aims to help us all have such lives. 

Lastly, the social housing sector, and all our customers, face a new world, with new challenges. There have been, and will be more, business failures, unemployment will rise, and arrears too. Some, maybe many, customers will be distressed.  

So, there will be numerous challenges arising from the above – through to creating homes that are great to live in, are safe from fire – and also to ensuring existing and new properties are, or become, carbon neutral as soon as possible.  

Brilliant Scotland seeks to help us all successfully tackle all such challenges. 

So, Brilliant Scotland seeks to nurture the sector so as to become the most, admired, kind, enjoyable and engaging to work in, motivating, developing of its people, highest performing, diverse and inclusive, ethical, creative, innovative, empowered, empowering, compliant, digitally smart, customer delighting, socially impactful, financially resilient, and planet nurturing sector in Scotland by 2025.  

So how the sector will become ever strong, even brilliant? 

The ‘big learn’ and the ‘big think’ 

The ‘Big Learn’ is the on-going process by which we use science to establish which housing associations have the most engaging, creative, innovative, empowering, caring, financially resilient, digitally smart, 21st century cultures – and so, thereby, are nurturing great organisations. See this article for further details.  

We will then share how they have achieved these outcomes so that we can all become as good as the best, even better. 

This ‘Big Think’ enables all housing associations to have ‘one collective creative mind’ in order to think ever better and more smartly – so as to together: 

  • solve all the problems we face along, with opportunities to be explored 

  • share ideas and solutions for tackling the above 

  • share both failures, the resulting learning – and successes in implementing these solutions and ideas 

 – so that we can all be as smart as each other, as quickly as possible.  

From tackling county lines; ASB; arrears; filling voids without delay; replacing bathrooms in a day or less; creating a zero-neutral world; and creating positive, healthy and vibrant customer lives and communities – all such problems and opportunities can, therefore, be tackled and the learning shared faster than ever before. 

So please do join in Brilliant Scotland for your Big Learn and Big Think and so help make your housing association and the whole Scottish housing sector ever better. 

Social housing sector’s reaction to the Brilliant Scotland project 

The Brilliant Scotland initiative is SFHA’s Innovation and Future Thinking Programme’s project with Dolphin Index.  

Sally Thomas, SFHA Chief Executive, said: “With the ongoing challenges of responding to the pandemic while continuing to tackle housing need and deliver services for their tenants and communities, it’s never been more important for housing associations and co-operatives to strive to be the best organisations they can be.  

“We are pleased to support the Brilliant Scotland project and look forward to seeing our members’ progress.” 

Here’s what some of those already involved in 2020/2021 ‘Brilliant Scotland’ project had to say: 

John Davidson, Chief Executive, Almond Housing Association, said: “Having recently commenced in post at Almond, the ability to engage with staff and to measure levels of engagement and innovation via a structured feedback framework is great in terms of timing. 

“Following discussion with Mark from Dolphin Index, it became very clear to both myself and colleagues that taking part in the project would provide Almond with detailed insight into how it feels to work for the association.  

“The ability to benchmark with and benefit from the experience of others and, crucially, to identify how we can improve will be invaluable as we embark on a continuous improvement journey which places our staff at its heart.  

“I have no doubt that our aim of being an innovative organisation, where staff feel empowered, motivated and valued, will be enhanced greatly via our involvement in the project.” 

Glenn Adcook, Chief Executive Officer, Osprey Housing, said: “We are excited to be taking part in the Brilliant Scotland project run by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations in conjunction with the Dolphin Index. Osprey Housing’s strategic focus, over the last few years, has been to enhance our organisational culture, with the aim of putting our tenants at the centre of everything we do, being creative and innovative in our approach to finding solutions and engaging our team members so that we become a great place to work.  

“Along with other housing associations in Scotland, we wish to understand our strengths and weaknesses whilst celebrating and learning from our own successes and those of our colleagues with a view to helping the Scottish housing sector become ever stronger.”  

Lesley McInnes, Chief Executive Officer, West Highland Housing Association, said: “West Highland are delighted to be involved in SFHA's Brilliant Scotland initiative. For us, the timing could not be better, and it allows us to really benefit from thinking across the sector; to test what’s working and what’s not working. The other huge benefit is being able to work alongside Mark from the Dolphin Index, the enthusiasm and the challenge to think differently is both exciting and perhaps a little scary [in a good way].”  

“Clyde Valley Group were first off the blocks to sign up for SFHA’s Brilliant Scotland project. What’s not to love about having 100% of your people crazy about work, creative and ‘can do’? We’re excited about being ‘top dolphins’ and this is an ideal timing to complement our newly launched People Strategy.  

Lynn Wassell, Chief Executive, Clyde Valley Housing Association, said: “The Dolphin Index survey results, the Big Learn and Big Think will help us look at our strengths, where we need to improve and share thinking with like-minded dolphins. Can’t wait.”    

Would you like to get involved in the Brilliant Scotland project? If so, please contact innovation@sfha.co.uk  


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