The Caravan of Ideas is a “bottom-up” oriented mobile consulting hub designed to find new solutions to societal challenges in rural areas.
The city of Örebro has a long tradition of shoe making. There is an old local saying: “It´s the one who wear the shoes that knows where it´s aching.” We are convinced that there are many people in the county who have ideas on how to tackle societal challenges in new, more effective and smarter ways than before. However, people from these groups or areas may not have the knowledge on how to realize their ideas. Typically when working with community development and similar topics, we organize workshops and events at a conference venue, often in a larger city with good communications. This approach works well in most cases, but there is a tendency to only reach “the usual suspects”, thereby missing important perspectives of the groups most affected. The caravan of ideas is a way to turn this practice on its head. We go to places where people’s shoes ache, with the expectation that they will have ideas on how to make them fit better.
The caravan of ideas tour is a simple idea: Put together a group of advisors from several organisations, with expertise in differing relevant fields, take a caravan and travel to the areas where shoes ache. Share a cup of coffee and listen. The group of advisors is able to consult in the development of ideas as well as on possible financial solutions. Stakeholders are citizens and communities in need of new bottom-up solutions to societal challenges.
Advisory group: 5-6 persons
Caravan and transportation
Salary costs are split between the participating organisations and can be incorporated in the regular practice of business.
Cost for 2017: 14000€ where the majority of the costs are salaries.
Evidence of success
The practice has received 15 ideas that are considered interesting and has the potential to be developed into social innovations. The ideas are in different stages of development and span over different sectors. Results include e.g. the formation of new collaborations between organisations and creation of new services and employments within existing organisations. Ideas range from improvements in medical equipment to how to convert black market jobs to regular employment.
The advisory network ideally should already exist and have a long-term commitment and cooperate In several different ventures.
Coordinating and maintaining the network takes time and effort.
Timing and venue selection for tour stops is crucial to a good turnout.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Caravan of ideas is transferable to other geographical and territorial contexts in Europe. It represents a solution on problems and challenges where there is a need to meet “ordinary citizens” or groups not usually involved in traditional forums for innovation and entrepreneurship.
County background: There are 12 municipalities in Örebro County with a total population of 300 000. Half of the population in the county lives in Örebro municipality. Several of the municipalities in the county are small and have difficulties in retaining public services and work opportunities. The situation is similar in many regions in Europe, and the Caravan of ideas is a fairly low cost solution to gain knowledge on current challenges as well as grass roots ideas on how to solve them.
A key success factor is the forming of a long term partnership/network. Without one being already in place, the startup time for the practice would likely be extended considerably.
Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.