Why host a CoLab?

Gain clarity | develop ideas | test solutions

Collaboration and innovation are our specialty.

We help you develop the innovative, collaborative side of your company culture, in a visually engaging and supportive way.

Innovation is a popular buzzword. To many, it’s a lightning strike, a eureka moment in the shower, the next amazing idea. It happens in an instant. The universe aligns and a problem is magically solved. We disagree.

There is a logical framework for innovation. We help you create and use that framework by finding problems worth solving, setting up the structure, building the team and supporting your initial success so that your organisation can continue to innovate long after we’re gone.

We know that innovation happens when you have an incentive, but also a challenge. It’s when the right people are in the room, with a problem to solve and the motivation to solve it. We combine the right perspective, with the specific competencies required. We will help you assess the risk, and then take the initiative.

CoLabs can help you innovate.

Jetboats: a Kiwi innovation story.

Innovation Magic

Here’s where Hamilton Jet Boats comes in. Back in the day (bear with us here), a South Island farmer, Sir William Hamilton, had a Station that was both vast and inaccessible. His stock roamed far and wide, and getting to them was a major problem. On this Station, he had a braided river. It was too shallow for a normal boat to use, but it ran through the parts of the Station that were hardest to reach.

The farmer had an incentive. He needed to reach his sheep with minimum effort and expense. He also had a challenge – the nature of the river. Here’s where the innovation happens – and it requires the right combination of perspective, competency, risk and initiative.

In this story, the farmer had a particular perspective he could lend to his problem. He was a hydraulic engineer. He had a competency as a machinist, with a workshop and the right tools to build what was needed. He was prepared to take a risk – using both his time and his money to build the solution to his problem, facing failure after failure in the process. He also had the right initiative. Not only did he have a problem that he knew how to solve, he also acted on his ideas and made them a reality.

The first jet boat was born. It wasn’t a eureka moment or a lightning strike. It was a man who faced a challenge with an incentive to solve it. He had the right perspective, the right competencies, and he was prepared to take a risk. He made it happen.

It bears mentioning, that the final product was only born after a series of failed attempts, and iterative improvements to the design. True innovation doesn’t just happen overnight!

Our Approach

We are not here to solve your problem. CoLabs is not about pushing solutions. It’s about collaborating to help you identify your problems – the pain points in your workflow, or the areas your customers complain about. It’s about creating a culture of problem-solving and giving your team the skills and the confidence to do it themselves. We know that if you can understand a problem, the solution will become clear.

Once you understand your problem, we can help you develop ideas that might solve a small part of it. Bit by bit, we can help you test those solutions, iterate on them, and arrive at the best outcome for your team, your company, your organisation. It’s not about huge scopes of work, year-long projects or major financial risk. It’s about innovating, one step at a time.


You don’t need to have a particular outcome in mind. That’s what CoLabs is for.  We can host workshops, prototype solutions and create visual representations that help your organisation understand the problem without reading pages and pages of reports.

As the host organisation, it’s all about upskilling your team. It’s your work, your people, your strategy. We will guide you through the process. What we focus on is culture change. Your team can solve its own problems. You can work with other departments, companies or organisations to effect change. Teach them what you’ve learned to ensure your wider organisation gets maximum value from your CoLab. You can create a team of people who feel confident in diagnosing problems, understanding why they happen, and testing ideas to solve them. If we find a solution along the way, we can work with you to build it, or we can connect you with the people who can.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do.

What we're working on


NZ Spinal Trust: CoLabs worked with this charitable organisation which advocates for people with spinal impairments, to help communicate the challenges faced by their clientele. They needed a striking, high-impact visual they could use to explain their work and gain support for their initiatives. NZST calls their work “The Happy Path” which represents the discrepancies in the support provided to people with spinal impairments from ACC and the Ministry of Health. This visual was used to gain support from Central Government for initiatives that help narrow the gap between these pathways.

Environment Canterbury: CoLabs works with a number of regional council departments. We recently helped the Business Information Services team map their role in supporting the wider organisation. We collaborated with them to nail down the integral part they play, and the value they add to every department internally and externally. By representing this in an engaging visual model, BIS is able to clearly demonstrate their purpose in supporting ECan’s business information lifecycle, including infrastructure, services, portfolios and stakeholders.


A workshop is not a meeting. A workshop is a time and place where all participants agree to work towards a common goal. It’s a bringing together of minds and competencies, and motivating them to collaborate. A CoLabs workshop gets all the players around a table with a specific agenda and a willingness to work together. We will do all the legwork before you walk through the door. Your team will participate in a professional, tailored workshop that uses the minimum amount of their time to make big things happen.


This is where we test solutions. You’ve done the hard yards digging into your problem. You’ve put the right people in the room, and you’re innovating. Now, we can help you test solutions incrementally.

Do you need an app? A website? A database? Maybe you just need a pathway to change – a plan to help people work together or a framework for your workflow going forward. The solution doesn’t need to be expensive or high-risk. We’re about problem solving with minimum spend, maximum value.