Method – Integrated Planning Challenge


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The Integrated Planning Challenge as co-developed with Bolton (Greater Manchester) and Rotterdam consists of several tailor-made models.

Use in decision framework

Various steps under Phase 2 – Develop Adaptation Approaches
Various steps under Phase 3 – Prioritse Adaptation Options


Key to a successful Integrated Planning Challenge is to include participants from many policy domains, and external stakeholders.


Module 1: Shared Value Game

This game aims to raise awareness among workshop participants regarding their personal values, and those of their organisation or department and colleagues. Raising awareness is important because values are part of deeply rooted motivations that determine effective performance of any project or cooperation. Sharing values, understanding each other’s values and subsequently developing shared values is the first step towards opening up dialogue and learning on different levels. Values can be extracted from preparatory interviews and printed on cards. The value game starts by asking everyone to pick three values that represent their own and organisational values. Groups should be randomly divided into subgroups that discussed the picked values with each other. Three questions are central to the discussion:

  • “What is your interpretation of this value, how do you give meaning to it and how does it influence your daily work?
  • How do you deal with personal values that conflict with your colleagues’ values?
  • To what extent do your values conflict with the values of your organisation and how do you deal with this?”

Module 2: Synergy matchmaking

The synergy matchmaking is the second exercise of the Integrated Planning Challenge. This exercise elaborates on the shared value game and aims to develop a clear articulation of the challenges and a shared awareness of the ambitions. The synergy matchmaking exercise explicitly focusses on the opportunities for cross-siloed working that participants can bring to the table. What opportunities do they see and what ambitions do they want to realise? Starting from the individual opportunities the participants see is really key to the synergy matchmaking. What is the ‘opportunity’ they would like to offer to the group.

The discussion in the break-out groups should be intentionally divided into three stages. First, people share their ambitions for the city and the project in specific. Participants look for windows of opportunity to work together and to link in with each other’s interests. Second, an evaluation is done on the extent to which the current project and masterplan could be regarded as integrated. Lastly, the participants mutually decide on challenges they foresee and the next steps they will have to take in order to achieve the integrated ambitions.

Module 3: Integrated Planning Roadmap

During the final exercise the group is again divided in subgroups. The groups discusses what specific actions should be taken in order to achieve the formulated set of ambitions (from part 2). Now, the actions are more specific and were plotted on the Urban Innovation Framework. The Urban Innovation Frame distinguishes between five main clusters of actions. (1) Actions to improve the knowledge base of decision making and close the policy cycle; (2) Actions to stimulate cross-domain integration and cross-siloed synergies; (3) actions to improve linkages between the strategic, tactical and operational levels of local government and/or projects; (4) actions to increase the innovation capacity of the city and connect to the public-private innovation ecosystem, and (5) actions to better link policy making and decision making and to reflect on the role of government in society.

Urban Innovation Framework (TNO, 2018)

Urban Innovation Framework (TNO, 2018)

The idea behind this exercise is to explicitly link cross-domain integration with other elements of urban innovation. Cross-domain integration is just one element to stimulate innovation and facilitate sustainable urban development. Actions to stimulate cross-domain integration also relate to the other elements. Asking participants to plot their actions on this framework really shows the connectedness of the actions. If possible also a timing and lead stakeholder was added to make the roadmap SMART.

Module 4: Capturing the momentum and developing the same language

The idea behind this module is to collaboratively develop a language and a sense of urgency to work together. ‘Transition management’ can work as such a ‘boundary spanning object’. Participants can share their ideas on the current state of and need of transitions in their city.

Module 5: Integrated and systemic urban design

This module of the Integrated Planning Challenge really is focused on design. In multidisciplinary teams the participants redesign and climate proof a specific area.

Workshop 1: Participants design on area level, using the crossovers from earlier workshops.

Workshop 2: Upscaled and systemic design. How does the design of the area level fits the entire city.


The output of an Integrated Planning Challenge can either be an Integrated Planning Roadmap (steps towards better integrated organisations, plans and projects) or it can be an integrated design for an area.


In co-creation with Bolton and Rotterdam TNO developed an Integrated Planning Challenge to explore and capture cross-sector synergies in urban development programs and project. We applied two different approaches in two different contexts. The Bolton case showed a well-developed Masterplan and a very intensive 1-day challenge. The aim of the challenge was to reflect on the current status from an integrated planning perspective and accelerate the dialogue with partners that were already closely cooperating. The idea to start the challenge by sharing deeply rooted motivations worked very well to have a dialogue on opportunities, rather than creating a frame of ‘we are doing things wrong’, which is obviously not the case. In Bolton we developed the synergy matchmaking part by letting the participants pitch their own potential contribution to integrated project. This helped to sell everyone’s ideas an come up with attractive integrated goals, such as: “within five years Salmon should swim in the River Croal”. Consequently, as the aim was to accelerate current processes, the Urban Innovation Framework helped the participants to formulate their actions in a smart way and to see the cross-overs (and typology) of their actions.

Instead the Rotterdam case provided us with more freedom from the beginning: we had more time available, and the explicit aim was to explore the opportunities for an integrated approach rather than accelerating and adjusting currently running processes. This gave TNO the opportunity to design the Integrated Planning Challenge in very small steps that are close to the daily patterns and expertise of the participants: the workshops included a great deal of (technical) design. Although this helped to keep the enthusiasm of the group, it was harder to really ‘force’ integrated planning breakthroughs. The aspect that really helped in Rotterdam was to start from an attractive overall perspective. In this case ‘transition’ but it could have also been ‘innovation’, ‘inclusiveness’ or ‘future proofing’. We paid a lot of attention to set the scene which helped the participants to implicitly, and individually reflect on the question whether the integrated designs that were developed fitted the overall approach of transition. It helped to create a long-term perspective in which daily routines can be challenged.