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Overview and purpose

This tool uses the concept of a magnetic compass to help people combine their ideas to come up with creative new solutions to challenges and problems.

Instructions for use

This tool is suitable for use with both adults and young people. The tool itself below contains detailed instructions on how it should be used.

How it works
The Ideas Compass is a variation of the bisociation approach that you may already be familiar with. The power comes from combining two ideas that initially may not seem related, yet when joined together provide an innovation solution.

The Tool:


Kathryn, a head of geography, was looking for ways to bring additional money into her department to buy some fieldwork equipment for student use. She came up with four ideas:

  • A sponsored walk
  • A presentation by students (with coffee and cake for ticket holders) on the important geographical features of the local area
  • Corporate sponsorship from a major engineering firm
  • An evening slideshow by a famous mountain climber who lives locally.

She combined the second and fourth ideas to organise an innovative ‘Geography and People’ evening, which involved both the students and the climber. The evening began with the students and climber giving a joint presentation on how geographical landforms help to shape people’s lives. This was followed by an interval during which food and drink was served by the Parent-Teacher Association. The second half of the evening consisted of the climber giving a retrospective of his life on the high peaks, following by a question and answer session. Signed copies of his books were available throughout the evening, with 30% of the proceeds going to the school.

The fundraising evening raised over £1,000 which was enough to buy an excellent range of fieldwork equipment for students to use. It also raised the profile of geography at the school and enabled students to display some of the high quality work that is produced in the department.

Follow-up work

You could try the following when you’ve worked through the main tool.

Imagine that the magnetic needle in the Ideas Compass has its polarity reversed, enabling you to look at the situation from the ‘opposite’ pole. This could be:

  • The other person’s or people’s viewpoint(s)
  • From the perspective of doing less, not more
  • By decreasing inputs not increasing them
  • By changing course and aiming for an alternative goal rather than remaining on the same course.
  • If you take one of these different perspectives, what might you get?

Will Thomas is running our Level 2 IEC Accredited: Advanced Skills Coach training in Birmingham on 6/7 February 2015. This forms part of the full award of Accredited Coach Practitioner with Masters Credits. For more information or to reserve a place email or call Teresa: or call 07904287065.