Lessons Learned in Innovation

Our Head of Innovation and Marketing, Jayne Lawson, reflects on some of the lessons learned in Innovation at Thirteen as she moves on to a new venture.

Jayne Lawson 2


As I prepare to move on to a new role in the housing sector, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what the Innovation and Marketing team have achieved in their short time as an entity at Thirteen and some of the lessons learned about Innovation so far.

Our Innovation team is within our Business Growth directorate, there is sound reasoning for this, and I’ve found that it makes perfect sense. The role of the innovation team is to support innovation across the organisation, not be the only innovative people here. Sitting us separately to operational delivery has allowed us to work on a range of projects that cut across directorates and ensure we’re not working in silos. It’s given us an overview of a variety of topics and projects where we’ve been able to utilise the skills of the team to get to the crux of the issue, really define what problems we’re trying to solve, and conduct thorough discovery work so that we fully understand that problem and can design solutions to help us solve them, for the benefit of our customers and our business.

We’ve made great strides in ways of working, generating an understanding of what the innovation team does, and getting others involved and using our ways of working. The momentum we have built over the last 12 months means we have a strong pipeline of work, linked to delivering against our strategic priorities.

We’ve also learned a few lessons I thought I’d share:

  • Innovation isn’t all about technology and shiny new things. It’s about using creative and new ways to solve problems, some of which might involve technology and shiny new things.
  • Just because it isn’t the next iphone, doesn’t mean it isn’t innovative- if it’s new to your organisation, sector or customers- then it’s innovative for you- there isn’t a scale of innovation that says if Amazon are already doing it then you’re behind!
  • Collaboration is key…and difficult! Not everyone has the resource and time to think about complex problems and solutions- so having a team like ours to create that space is vital.
  • Innovation isn’t a ‘nice to have’- it may seem it in the short term- but customer and colleague expectations are changing, we have a responsibility to innovate so that we provide the best customer and colleague experience possible.
  • The landscape is changing, with private companies like Lloyds, John Lewis and others entering the market, there will be disruption and competition. If we don’t innovate- they will!
  • Defining the problem is absolutely key- otherwise you can spend months of work trying to solve the wrong things!

The team are working on some interesting pieces of work at the moment, you’ll have heard about some of them:

  • Our smarthome strategy- where can and should we use technology to better support our customers and colleagues, improve data and help us innovate.
  • Our Living Well programme- how can we support our customers to live well, for longer.
  • Our retrofit programme and how we use Internet of Things Technology to understand the impact of this on the home for the customer.
  • Homes of 2030 and how we design homes in future.

This is just a snapshot of the key projects, but if you’re interested in any of this, or how the innovation team operate at Thirteen, please get in touch via hilab@thirteengroup.co.uk

The team are in a strong position to support a whole host of problem solving at Thirteen, and we’re always looking for ways to collaborate with our partners and stakeholders to help drive things forward for the benefit of our customers.

Getting this team set up and embedded at Thirteen has been one of the most exciting and interesting challenges within my career, but I leave them in a strong position and look forward to working with colleagues and partners alike in the future.