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Meta-Tool: Toolboxes to think, engage, design, learn, innovate

In recent years several tools have emerged as a new approach to procuring new ideas, solving thorny problems, and facilitating lively yet productive discussions. Online you will find various toolboxes that provide you with a range of tools for your workshops and teamwork. Trying out new methods will enhance your participants’ or team’s ability to find new and creative solutions to your most pressing challenges. 


Exploring several innovative thinking, design, learning and facilitation approaches as well as brainstorming possible use cases in current participants’ projects.


Step 1:  

Divide the participants into small groups of 2 to 3 persons, ideally putting together those working on the same or similar types of projects. Provide them with the weblinks to the following toolboxes 

  • Liberating Structures – Aims at building an engaging, inclusive, and inspiring work environment. The toolkit provides a menu of thirty-three “Liberating Structures” to replace or complement conventional practices. 
  • The Digital Society School Design Method Toolkit – the purpose of this toolkit is to enrich design processes. However, since from a holistic point of view, everyone designs processes, products, and social relationships, the presented tools are also useful for city practitioners and can be adapted to their needs.  
  • System Innovation – Toolkits based on systems thinking. A series of modular open-source toolkits for systems innovation and systems design. There is even a specific urban system innovation toolkit 
  • The loop approach – The Loop Approach brings structure to something that cannot be fully planned; it provides a clear process and yet is open enough to accommodate the specific needs of an organisation.   
  • Hyper island toolbox – This is a toolbox for anyone who wants to do things more creatively and collaboratively in their team or organisation. It’s a collection of methods and activities, based on Hyper Island’s methodology, that you can start using today. 
  • Methodkit – several kits that make it easier to work with everything from small projects to urban planning. From brainstorming in meetings to creative planning sessions. Some kits and ideas are available online.
  • Local Futures – This guide, created by Local Futures, provides tools and resources for building resilient local economies and flourishing local communities.  
  • Sense the city – uses the senses in the search for people’s ideas about the future and thus creates new spaces for thinking and feeling, including methods for more sensuality in planning and participation.   
  • Citizen Lab – the community engagement platform made for local governments. From case-studies to practical guides, several resources to get started with citizen engagement. 


Step 2:  

Allow about 60 to 90 minutes for this step. 

Participants should now browse through the toolboxes in their small groups and be guided by the following questions:  

  • In which context and with whom could this tool be useful for my work?  
  • How would I implement the tool, and would it need any adaptations to my specific context? What is the desired outcome?  

In the end, one to three tools should be selected, and the group members should discuss their implementation in more detail.  

It is helpful if they are made aware that they should first get a general overview of the toolkits before looking at individual tools in more detail. 


Step 3: 

In line with the guiding questions, each group should now present one tool that they would like to use in their work. 


Step 4 (optional):  

If there is a high level of interest in using the tools in practice, you can schedule a feedback and reflection or deep-dive session on it for a few weeks. 


Tools can be used in more than one supporting activity category.  

The toolkits can be shared broadly and also be included in a newsletter or list of resources.


2 hours


Inspiration for new approaches to thinking, working, and cooperating, as well as ideas on how to include new tools in specific projects and activities. Improve your workshops, strategy development and any brainstorming session with new tools.


Several as stated/linked above.