Innovation Toolkits

Just over two years ago, Cida Co partnered with DC Flanders, based in Leuven, Belgium, with Creative Tampere in Finland  and with Cambra Terrassa in Spain, to undertake a project funded by the EU Leonardo programme.  Essentially, the partners came together to combine different methodologies that they had created to work with businesses, and to develop them to be more widely useful to other organisations across Europe.   It turned out to be more complex than I think anyone imagined – dealing with the different cultures, the different expectations and the different processes proved demanding – dealing with the different personalities was a whole other story in itself!

Nevertheless, through hard work and sustained commitment, the partnership achieved its goals and the Toolkit, as it is now known, is ready for distribution.   Access to it is via website.

In Cida Co, the ‘tool’ we used was our Creative Entrepreneur Self Assessment Kit.  Some years ago, I was challenged to explain what made a Creative Entrepreneur different from other entrepreneurs.  Of course, there are many similarities – entrepreneurialism has specific characteristics that you can find in every field of endeavour – but there are a few that seem particular to the creative sector.  Importantly, the context in which they work is often significantly different.  So I responded by creating a presentation about this which I now give all over the world and which, more interestingly, receives the same excited reception in whatever country I am working.  Creative entrepreneurs across the world all march to the same drum and it’s exhilarating to uncover those same values from Bogota to Singapore, from Albania to Nigeria.

Over the years, the presentation has been enhanced and polished, and we added a self assessment checklist that allows the audience to see how they match up against ten key attributes for success.   It was this that the Leonardo programme allowed us to develop into a really useful and thought provoking toolkit.  It’s been published and now looks very smart and is in four languages, along with the other toolkits in the package.  Cida Co commissioned Lee Corner, with whom I work regularly and who was with me when I first created the presentation, to represent us in the Leonardo partnership and she has done a fine job in making the whole thing chunkier and more challenging.  Both she and a few other colleagues (Keith Evans, Jo Wilkinson and Chantelle Brandon Reeves) have now taken it on as well and deliver the whole thing as part of courses that they run for us.  Importantly, they also get great responses from their audiences so that feels pretty good – it’s clearly earning its keep!

Tampere’s contribution was a number of creative thinking/problem solving techniques – there’s a fabulous one which I now use all the time – Challenge:  What’s good about an aeroplane landing upside down?……………….  I’ve had some great answers put forward to that, especially from people working in more traditional business sectors:  once they realised imagination was the key, their ideas kept coming!  Mind you, I  have just done it recently for a course for creative practitioners in the UK – of the 4 participating groups, only one ‘got it’ and the other three groups sat there looking at me in complete bewilderment: how could a plane landing upside down ever be good?…………..

Terrassa’s contribution was a very useful handbook about setting up a business, and the offer from DC Flanders was a board game that gets people thinking outside normal parameters.   We’ve tested them all with independent consultants using them with clients and the board game has aroused particular interest – I haven’t used it yet but I look forward to trying it out.

So, in the end, I think the project brought together some interesting ideas and has resulted in an unusual set of tools that anyone can use.  Now all we need to do is to let people know!

For more information, please contact Dawn at or go to