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Instilled a Problem-Solving Culture at a Public Property Manager

intrapreneurship programme

We helped a publicly-owned property and asset manager instil a problem-solving culture to help hit their ambitious strategic goals.


Places for London (Places), Transport for London’s property arm previously known as TTLP, is crucial in shaping London’s urban future. Managing complex public property assets requires not just traditional methodologies, but innovative problem-solving approaches to overcome unique challenges and achieve broader commercial objectives.


With ambitious strategic goals and a complex portfolio to manage, Places identified the need for more adaptive and creative problem-solving approaches.

Recognising that the traditional methodologies might not suffice in addressing the multifaceted challenges they face, Places sought a more dynamic approach. 

Places approached Studio Zao to instil an innovative problem-solving culture within their teams and senior leadership.


To elevate Places’ problem-solving capabilities, we formulated a two-pronged strategy, ensuring a comprehensive understanding and application of innovative thinking:

Problem Solving Clinics

Across one full day, colleagues worked in multi-disciplinary teams through gamified activities to learn the principles behind being “problem-led”. They did so by focusing on real topics being looked at around the organisation.

The day broadly covered the following topics:

  • Evolving Places

    Underscored the importance of problem-solving skills for meeting Places’ commercial goals.

  • Innovation Problem-Solving 101

    Introduced participants to the foundational theories, enriched with real-life innovative examples.

  • Hands-on Exercises

    Interactive sessions guided teams through problem understanding, framing, and ideation. Further, teams delved into the nuances of validating solutions efficiently and cost-effectively.

  • Sustained Learning

    We provided the teams with Problem-Solving Question Cards, ensuring a consistent application of their newfound skills.

Innovation Enablement Workshops for Senior Managers

During a half-day session, senior managers from across Places divisions worked in mixed teams through a number of exercises to learn, reflect and challenge each other on how they enable and lead their teams to be better problem-solvers.

They did so by focusing on practical ways in which to guide and coach teams they manage to be better problem solvers, including solving the right problems, influencing the right stakeholders and taking into account the right organisational forces:

  • Setting the Stage

    Highlighted the organisational benefits of a robust problem-solving culture.

  • Guided Learning

    • “How Might We” Problem Framing: Equipped leaders to help their teams frame problems more effectively.
    • Enabling Teams: Focus was on ensuring innovative solutions found their foothold and gained momentum.
    • Contextual Awareness: Explored the strategic forces, risks, and goals that play a pivotal role in decision-making.
    • Commitment to Action: Leaders pledged actionable steps, reinforcing their commitment to fostering a problem-solving ethos.


All participants affirmed the value of the skills imparted during the Problem Solving Clinics. Feedback reflected an appreciation for the methodical approach and emphasised the importance of reframing and understanding problems before diving into solutions.

Quantifiable Achievements

  • Engaged over 30 team members from Places in rigorous, immersive collaborative activities.
  • Clearly defined 24 unique problem statements, laying the groundwork for structured problem-solving.
  • Generated 100 solution ideas, indicative of the program’s potential to spark innovative thinking.

Future Focused

The impact was such that participants saw the immense potential for such clinics to benefit Delivery teams, Strategy & Planning teams, and even the Senior leadership team.

This enthusiasm culminated in Places posing significant strategic questions post-program:

  • How might we enable more teams to be Problem-led, consistently applying problem-solving skills to address challenges and opportunities in BAU?
  • How might we look at the bigger picture of Innovation and align on the roadmap and purpose?

Some of our work

Problem-Solving Culture - FI

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