The Next Phase Of Open Working At Bromford Lab

At Bromford Lab we enjoy change and are constantly striving for better. I think it’s safe to say that is the core reason for any Innovation Lab to exist, regardless of its makeup, ethos or purpose. This love of change means that every so often we like to analyse how we are doing. More recently this has resulted in us focusing on how we communicate — so we have decided to shake it up a bit.

The lab launched on 28th May, 2014. At the point of launch we made a point of being open and honest about what we were doing; what worked and what didn’t. To us it went hand in hand with being ok to fail and try out anything as long as it's done quickly and cheaply. This attitude has guided the culture of the Lab and how we direct ourselves. We have nothing to hide behind and we love it!

As part of our honesty, we launched our public Trello page to demonstrate exactly what we are working on and how we did it. We share documents through it and it became a visual way to see how an idea is progressing, as as well as blurring the lines between internal and external communication

We are still less than two years old and with that comes a certain sense of freedom to adapt, innovate and change.

You can’t use the words ‘we’ve always done it that way’ because there isn’t an always.

With this freedom comes a great opportunity and so we are planning to close Trello and try something new.

What you might now be thinking is — has Trello failed? And the answer is no.

Trello was launched as part of our website, twitter profile and blogs. At first we weren’t sure what would be the best way to communicate what we do. Trello proved to be a success and the viewer numbers high. It was great that people really began to understand that innovation has process and structure; we instilled a production line ideology and each stage plays its part in developing an idea into a product.

As time has moved on we have more interactions about our blogs and tweets than we do about Trello. We wanted to not just give the illusion of being transparent but actually produce regular, readable, enjoyable content that worked with our style of working. Trello began to feel static and limiting. A story, rather than an overview, has become the preference for our audience. Along side this, one key part to why we picked Trello was to help us plan our time and better manage concepts, aspects which we feel are better fulfilled with different software which lead us to duplicate our work.

Sharing Our Work For The External Audience

To make sure we are not losing a core part of what the lab is we are adapting our posts and making shareable content much more regular.

Now that we don’t need to worry about updating Trello, we can create more instant diary entries. Everything will be tagged to allow you to search for each story about a concept. We will incorporate better navigation in the website to easily find every current concept we are working on.

Documents will be attached to diary entries or our Lab Pipeline rather than to Trello so that the information is in one place. The Lab Show will become more frequent, running parallel with our 12 week theme — specifically focusing on the launch and the round up so you can literally follow the story from beginning to end.

Our Lab designer, Tom, will continue to design his delightful stick figure drawings to incorporate into bite size chunks of information laid out into infographics and slideshows.

We are hoping this new approach moves towards a more refined information stream.

Sharing Our Work For The Internal Audience

There is absolutely nothing different! I just like to point that out. We have no intranet or anything.

But just for me and the rest of the Team we need a little something else.

With Trello coming to an end we began to look again at how we work. What could we use that would help our productivity and keep us on task?

As a team we already use Google docs to work collaboratively and Whatsapp to get across instant information. We have a weekly hour-long meeting, first thing on a Monday morning to get us wired up for the week and create actions for the team.

What we don’t do, and what Trello couldn’t provide for us, is keep a track of all those little jobs and actions that make up the concept. Without this we couldn’t work out where they were in the process or who is working towards pushing something forward.

We are currently trialling Dapulse. An online piece of kit that, for the first time, is something just for us. Don’t feel that you’re missing out though, as I’m sure you won’t really find it that interesting to know that Paul needs to confirm who is the business lead on a new idea, or that Vicky is due to update an action plan. That’s the boring part and a part which stumped us for a while. Are we being truly transparent if we don’t share it?

We came to the conclusion that you guys get all the important stuff. The juicy ideas and the test plans.

Leave the logistics to us.

Image via John Stepper

This post was written by Amy Morgan and was originally published on www.bromfordlab.com