Many roads ahead: Workshop for Business Finland

Late last year, I joined Alex Glennie of the UK-based innovation foundation Nesta on a short project in Helsinki.

Alex & I were supporting the Finnish innovation agency, Business Finland, as they explored the concept of “mission-oriented innovation”, where innovation policy is linked to societal missions.

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Using ‘fast facilitation’ methods to swiftly elicit key ideas and pressing challenges, we asked participants to consider their mission in terms of the value created by their relationships with stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem.

You can read about the project, and see what happened on our visit to Helsinki, at the Nesta website.

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Institutions at Play: Library Island coverage at the Finnish Library Association

“Eye-opening, polyphonic and above all fun” – at least, that’s how Google translates this piece on Library Island by the Finnish librarian Riitta Kangas.

Riitta focusses on the playful and collaborative aspects of the activity. Library Island allows people to jointly approach difficult issues in a safely fictional setting, before taking the lessons learned back into the real world, where they may be applied to achieve practical goals.

You can read more about Library Island here, or check out the website of the Finnish Library Association for Riitta’s article.


Teaching and testing – the Finnish case

Helsinki Panorama by Flickr user Huzhead
Helsinki Panorama by Flickr user Huzhead











A tweet from Trevor Cairney, a fellow writer-educator based in Sydney, led me to David Sirota’s recent article on Finnish education in

Sirota’s article gives the lie to claims that a culture of rigorous testing is the only way to improve standards in US schools – pointing to Finland’s success in creating a world-class education system by cherishing teachers, rather than imposing tests.

The Finns have a remarkable system which produced top scores in the last PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) study by the OECD.

Teaching staff lie at the heart of Finland’s achievement. Well-trained, well-supported and given a great deal of independence, Finland’s teachers are trusted academic professionals, choosing their methods and materials themselves. Testing is used as the teacher sees fit – for self-evaluation and development, rather than for league tables and outcomes.

The Finns’ success is a great riposte to forces in the UK and US who continually push intensive testing regimes on our schools. As I said at the House of Commons last year, the current culture of testing and targets is so harmful to learning, especially in the field of literacy.

Read more