Saying things online

Fuck it, I’m gonna start saying things online! I’ve been really enjoying reading these from various people I work with or used to work with or just know of and it seems like a useful way of reflecting on what you’re doing. This, combined with an idea for a fun layout (this isn’t it, I need more content) was a perfect storm, so here we are. Gonna talk about work because not much else happens and because it’s been pretty all-consuming. Not sure how often I’ll do this or if it’ll even happen again.

I work in Homes England with some really great people on interesting problems. We’ve not been talking a lot about it and most chats include someone saying “we should work in the open more” at some point. Lots of reasons for why we haven’t but they’re not very interesting.

At the moment, I’m focusing on improving how we decide on whether a site-based opportunity, like a piece of land somewhere in the country that could totally have homes on it but doesn’t, is worth our time. We think we can make this process better and believe that teams using consistent processes to do things are an important enabler for some bigger improvements.

We prototyped a set of questions that one must answer about a site-based opportunity, is it in a flood zone? is there a housing need in this area?, and will take it to users next week. This got me thinking about the concept of market failure, which is an important part of this process.

You get market failure when something that’s mostly governed by free market rules, like buying and selling of homes, isn’t achieving advantageous outcomes. It happens a lot in the housing market, for example when a piece of land needs infrastructure to be viable, and developers aren’t incentivised to provide it because it’d cost them too much.

I’ve been wondering how this concept can accommodate things that the market can do, but if the state would do it, it could lead to better outcomes? Does saying that we only intervene when there is market failure limit our ability to make things better? This was stirred up by an article about the BBC from Mariana Mazzucato, who talks a lot about public value. I like this bit:

“Rather than viewing public institutions' role as being limited to fixing market failures, organizational structures like the BBC are also market shapers”

In other news: I can’t be bothered to run at the moment, counting down the days until we can do things again, and wow was it fun to mess about with some CSS this week.

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