How housing associations can benefit from agile working: Your questions answered

  11 September, 2020      Industry Insights
How housing associations can benefit from agile working: Your questions answered

“Agile working is about bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology together”

At Housing 2020 Sophie Seddon and John Palfreyman spoke about the benefits of Agile working for housing associations and tenants. Now they answer your questions:


What’s the biggest barrier to agile working in your opinion?

Culture!  If the people in an organisation are reluctant to accept change in its many forms, the benefits of agile won’t be realised. Leaders ‘walking the talk’ is the best way to overcome this barrier.


Do you have any examples of case studies in housing?

Yes, you can find examples by visiting the Our Work section of the website.


How would you approach stubborn staff who do not want to change?

Very carefully! As in a previous answer, if the staff can see that leadership at all levels are embracing change, it’s likely that they will too.

In addition, staff need to understand what’s in it for them and how their actions help the whole organisation be successful.

It needs to be OK to try things and make mistakes – giving them the courage to come out of their comfort zone and into the learning zone.


Have you found Agile is affected by working online rather than face to face meetings?

I’ve found that people at all levels can be amazingly agile when faced with a shock change (global pandemic).

Refer to our recent blog post for a more thorough answer to this question.


How do you deal with cultural blockages?

These are – without a doubt – the hardest and take the longest to fix.

Specific understanding and resolution of the blockages combined with clear cultural ‘headlights’ (such as our Novus Shield) and of course leadership behaviour are good things to start with.

And clearly leadership behaviour is a vital component.


Can agile working make a real difference for the people in our properties, as well as the way we work with them?

Tenants can benefit considerably from their housing association adopting an agile approach.

This can include ready access to information about their property and planned changes to it, the availability of ‘friction free’ self-service, bureaucracy busting business processes, Amazon-like service delivery – the list is endless.


How important is a ‘top-down’ approach?

Absolutely vital, I’d say!  Without the leaders ‘walking the talk’ organisational agility in any of its guises is unlikely to yield significant benefit.


(To John) As a non-executive director how can you encourage organisational agility?

A non-executive director (NED) provides external context and challenge to the executive board.

By explaining to the board (and shareholders) what is possible based on agility in other organisations the NED can encourage and inspire the board to move towards an agile way of operating.


Taking into account the different generations within an organization, how does agile transformation approach need to be tailored?

Agile offers exciting potential to all generations within an organisation.

It also offers exciting potential for ‘inverse mentoring’ where younger employees can offer the older generation useful advice.

In the end, agile should apply to all – irrespective of age!

I grew up with waterfall development, but (clearly) see that agile can be a powerful way to attaining competitive advantage.


If you missed the speaker session, the video recording is available to watch below:

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