Tackle dampness and mould with the power of Design Sprints

Given a recent report by the regulator regarding how the sector manages dampness and mould, its initial findings indicated the following:

The strongest responses from landlords demonstrated robust data on the condition of tenants’ homes, as well as processes for investigating and remedying the root causes of damp and mould, and robust oversight from boards and councillors. Poorer responses relied more heavily on reactive approaches rather than proactively looking for evidence of damp and mould, and had weaker data and evidence about the condition of tenants’ homes.

So allow us to demonstrate how your organisation can quickly address this urgent problem by following our straightforward, step-by-step guide outlined below using our proven approach – Design Sprints.


Why use Design Sprints

  1. Efficiency: The design sprint process is designed to be completed in a relatively short period, usually five days, allowing quick problem-solving and decision-making.
  2. Improved collaboration: The design sprint brings together a diverse group of people with different perspectives, encouraging collaboration and creative problem-solving.
  3. User-centred: The design sprint process is user-centred, which means that the solutions generated are based on the needs and feedback of the people who will be using them.
  4. Rapid prototyping: The design sprint allows for rapid prototyping and testing of ideas, which allows for quick iteration and improvement of solutions.
  5. Cost-effective: The design sprint process is relatively low-cost and can save money in the long run by identifying and addressing issues before they become major problems.


How to use Design Sprint to improve the process of identification, monitoring, and elimination of dampness and mould.

Design sprints are a method for quickly solving complex problems through focused brainstorming, prototyping, and testing. The process is typically five days long, and is broken down into the following steps:

Day 1: Understand and Define

 The first day of a design sprint is dedicated to understanding the problem that needs to be solved. This includes researching the issue, identifying key stakeholders, and defining the problem statement. For example, a housing association might begin by researching the causes and effects of dampness and mould in their properties and then identify key stakeholders such as tenants, maintenance staff, and housing managers. They might define the problem as “how can we improve our process for identifying, monitoring, and eliminating damp and mould in our properties?”

Day 2: Diverge and Ideate

 On the second day, the team will engage in a brainstorming session to generate as many ideas as possible for solving the problem. This is known as the “diverge” phase, as the goal is to come up with as many different solutions as possible. Use brainstorming techniques, such as mind mapping and sketching, to generate a large number of ideas. Encourage wild and crazy ideas, as these can often lead to more practical solutions. For example, you might brainstorm ideas such as installing moisture sensors in properties, providing tenants with education on how to prevent dampness and mould, or creating a dedicated team to handle dampness and mould complaints.

Day 3: Converge and Decide

On the third day, the team will begin to narrow down the ideas generated on day two. Use a voting system to select the top ideas. Choose the ideas that are most viable, feasible, and desirable for the stakeholders by evaluating them based on a set of criteria such as feasibility, impact, and alignment with the problem statement. This is known as the “converge” phase, as the goal is to identify the most promising solutions to move forward with. For example, you might decide to move forward with installing moisture sensors and creating a dedicated team, as these solutions are both feasible and will have a significant impact on damp and mould problems.

Day 4: Prototype

On the fourth day, the team will create a prototype of the chosen solution. This can be as simple as a sketch or as complex as a working model. This prototype should be a simple, low-fidelity version of the solution that can be tested with customers. The prototype should be designed to test the core assumptions of the chosen solution. The goal is to create a tangible representation of the solution that can be tested with users. For example, you might create a prototype of the moisture sensor system, including a mobile app that tenants can use to report damp and mould issues.

Day 5: Test

On the final day, the team will test the prototype with users to gather feedback and identify any issues that need to be addressed. This is known as the “test” phase, and it is an essential step in the design sprint process. Gather feedback from the customers and use it to iterate on the solution. Use the feedback to make improvements to the prototype and to validate your assumptions For example, the housing association might test the prototype moisture sensor system and mobile app with a group of tenants to gather feedback on how well it works, and how easy it is to use.

After the Design Sprint, the team should have a clear understanding of the problem, a viable solution, and feedback from customers. They should now be able to move forward with implementing the solution and continue gathering feedback from residents to improve the solution over time.

It’s important to note that this is a high-level overview of how a Design Sprint can be applied to this problem. There may be other factors that need to be taken into account, depending on the specific context of your social housing organisation. Additionally, the 5-day time frame may vary based on the size of the problem, the complexity of the solution, and the resources available.


Technology Solutions

We have identified below as you would expect from a digital expert consultancy several technologies that could be used by a housing association to identify, monitor, and eliminate mould in its properties. Some examples include:

  1. Thermal imaging cameras: These cameras can be used to detect temperature variations in walls and other surfaces, which can indicate the presence of mould. For example, a housing association can use a thermal imaging camera to scan the walls of a property and identify areas where mould may be growing.
  2. Moisture meters: These devices can be used to measure the moisture content of walls, floors, and other surfaces. A housing association can use a moisture meter to identify areas where mould is likely to grow, such as in bathrooms or kitchens.
  3. Air quality sensors: These sensors can be used to measure the levels of mould spores and other allergens in the air. A housing association can use air quality sensors to monitor the air quality in a property and identify areas where mould may be present.
  4. Drones: Drones equipped with thermal cameras, cameras and sensors can be used by the housing association to inspect and survey the exterior and roof of the properties for mould growth.
  5. IoT devices: Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smart thermostats, humidity sensors, and air quality sensors, can be installed in properties to monitor mould growth in real-time. The housing association can use this data to identify areas where mould is likely to grow and take action to prevent it.
  6. AI-based software: AI-based software can be used to analyze data from cameras, sensors, and other devices to identify patterns and trends that indicate the presence of mould. This can help the housing association to identify and monitor mould growth more effectively.

By using these technologies, a housing association can identify, monitor and eliminate mould in its properties more effectively and efficiently.

To find out more details about how Design Sprints can work for you, download our free guide or drop us a line at peter@goldenmarzipan.co.uk

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