We’re used to the idea of drug companies carrying out their research behind closed doors, in laboratories surrounded by high security fences. These precautions are not just to keep out the prying eyes of any anti-vivisectionists. Drug companies bet millions on their ability to design and test new treatments and get them to market before their competitors so that they can generate even more millions in sales for their share holders. Medical charities can be just as fanatical in the way they build and protect their brand. They are battling not just a particular disease but also the competing claims on their donors’ hard earned cash. They’ll use every PR trick in the book to convince individual and corporate donors that they are the right charity to support…..the one making the greatest advances or having the most impact. So it was refreshing to read recently about a new alliance in the field of Alzheimers which will see research centres pooling their expertise to help develop new treatments for the disease more quickly. To many of us it seems self-evident that by pooling knowledge, sharing ideas, working collaboratively we are likely to come up with better solutions and do it more quickly. Years ago I heard Robert Smith of The Cure tell a story which has stuck with me. When the band was just starting out they had to book studio time late at night because that was all they could afford. One night, as they arrived at the studios, Bruce Foxton, the bass player with the already massive band The Jam was just leaving. Robert was curious. He asked the engineer why Bruce Foxton was in the studio at this unearthly hour and not sipping cocktails in some swanky bar. The answer was that most Jam songs were only credited to Paul Weller – the singer and guitarist. To allow Bruce Foxton to earn some money from royalties Weller let him record the odd song of his own to be tucked away on an album. These were usually the last songs to be recorded and sessions often finished late at night. Robert Smith was every bit as forceful a front man as Paul Weller but he was determined not to allow 1 or 2 half-baked songs on to each of The Cure’s albums just so every band member could earn a decent crust. Every song on every Cure album is credited to all the members of the band at the time…..regardless of whose idea formed the basis of the song. Smith was convinced that this produced better songs, more consistent albums and a much happier band (after The Jam split Weller and Foxton didn’t even speak for 20 years!).
We’ve decided to follow the Robert Smith route when it comes to social innovation at Bromford.
We want to come up with the best solutions possible to the problems faced by our customers, our colleagues and our business. So in the Bromford Lab we want to work with as broad and diverse a pool of people, ideas and approaches as possible. We think that’s the way to develop new service offers that will really help customers get to where they want to be……and to do it quickly. We’re not bothered about where the great ideas come from and whilst there may be some late nights in the Lab we hope that they’ll still have the buzz and energy that comes from individuals from disparate backgrounds, locations and timezones all sharing a common goal.
If you’d like to contribute to the work of the Lab then register here.
Soon you’ll be able to keep track of everything that’s going on in the Lab here.