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Episode 3 Disruption and digital

In this episode of Raising the roof we look at all things innovation, exploring the challenges the housing sector faces and how we can learn from other sectors.

Our CEO and host Nick Atkin is joined by Ian Wright, CEO at Disruptive Innovators Network, and Steve Thorlby-Coy, Head of ICT here at Yorkshire Housing.

Episode highlights

Ian highlights housing as a stable sector and suggests the risk of ruining this stability is one of the main obstacles we have, explaining: “Social housing is potentially stuck in what Clayton Christensen called ‘the innovator’s dilemma’. I.e. we’ve got to the top of the evolutionary tree and anything we might want to do that disrupts the operating model is not going to be widely embraced because it risks undoing that stability.”

When asked what’s stopping housing organisations from taking risks with new ideas, Steve says: “It must be a really tough decision from boards to make to invest in something that feels risky or isn’t proven in our sector when you can be accused of wasting money and not dealing with damp and mould problems…and that’s the choices we’re having to make a lot of the time.”

Ian makes a point about the housing sector needing to keep up with other industries, with experimentation being key: “I think part of the challenge we have now is, how do you build that experimental mode? Because most of digital and most of innovation is experimental. I think that one of my big frustrations with organisations is that actually they don’t treat experiments as experiments, actually they’re already looking at what the outcome of it is going to be.”

Steve weighs in on the internal barriers housing organisations face: “I’ve got an innovation team attached to me and we’ve started to look at that them across the business as being the source of innovation. And that in itself is a problem because it means that people aren’t thinking ‘it’s my job to think of new ways of doing things’, – whatever their job is in across the business – [they’re thinking] it’s that team over there that will do that.”

Disruption and digital

by Yorkshire Housing


This episode is available on all usual podcast platforms. Listen on:

About the host

About the host

Nick Atkin, CEO at Yorkshire Housing

Nick has a track record of leading organisations through transformational change and driving performance improvement, with a focus on maximising the untapped potential from businesses and people.

Born and brought up in Doncaster he joined Yorkshire Housing in 2019. Since this time, he’s delivered transformational change throughout the business to meet the future opportunities and challenges.

About the guests

About the guests

Ian Wright, CEO at Disruptive Innovators Network

Ian worked in social housing for more than 30 years before setting up Disruptive Innovators Network just over three years ago. He set up Disruptive Innovative Network to help social housing providers innovate at scale, prepare for disruption and transform organisational cultures.

Ian’s big on embracing disruption and innovation and has a tonne of knowledge from across sectors. He’s worked alongside the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple. He uses his insight and experience to inspire social housing leaders wanting to transform their organisation. 

Steve Thorlby-Coy, Head of ICT at Yorkshire Housing

Steve has over 20 years of experience in technology-enabled change. He’s worked across various sectors and has delivered several award-winning innovative tech projects in the charity sector.

Steve joined the Yorkshire Housing team two years ago. Since then, he’s been hard at work building the foundations for future innovation and growth. He’s also played a key role in helping the business transition to agile working, making sure colleagues are equipped digitally to work from anywhere.