Playdale: Using KTN's Innovation Canvas to review business strategies

Posted on: 12/12/2019

KTN introduced Playdale to the Innovation Canvas which they used internally to review their 5-year strategy.

Playdale is a British family-owned manufacturing company based in Cumbria who design and manufacture children’s playground equipment, installing products globally.

What makes them stand out as a business was the quality of the products and the passion of the individuals who worked for the business. Although they are 100 people strong, they think of themselves as a family business, from their Directors to their production staff and even to their customers.

The business has been around for 40 years and in 2015 the company faced a financial crisis and realised they needed to transform their business to ensure they kept trading.

Looking at the business at the time, they could see the UK market share was plateauing and decided strategically it would make sense to increase their international reach. Some of the biggest challenges they had to overcome included changing the organisational culture, improving their financial position, growing the range of products that were market aligned, upskilling internal staff to get them ready for digitalisation and attracting new talent as they are located in a rural area.

How did KTN help?

KTN introduced Playdale to the Innovation Canvas which they used internally to review their 5-year strategy. In their first two years after the business transformation, they were only 60% successful in delivering projects. With the help of the Innovation Canvas, Playdale looked at different aspects of the business from people to innovation and customer care to culture. They were working on 24 individual projects from the adoption of a 3D printer, delivery an AutoCad project, Laser Pipe Cutters to CNC machines and were struggling to deliver even one of them. This was down to inconsistency in their delivery approach.

Using the Innovation Canvas they reviewed each of the projects and identified the barriers and risks. The Innovation Canvas provided them with a streamlined, standardised approach for all members of staff to review and assess each project separately, provide a cohesive vision of the project and find the most appropriate solution to move it forward.

We realised that managing 24 projects was a huge challenge for Playdale. We needed a standardised approach to ensure we could consistently and effectively deliver each of the projects, on time and on budget and the Innovation Canvas provided that structure.  We are delighted that only 2 projects won’t come on board this year and the reason for this is because other projects have taken priority. We are not project managers so having a standardised process to follow has helped us understand the problem and risk areas as well as defining a solution to take us to the next stage.

Lynne Metcalfe, HR Director, Playdale.

The Innovation Canvas helped Playdale in specific ways. It helped them understand their key challenges and gave them a focus on delivery. It helped them become much more innovative and overcome internal barriers around finding the time and expertise to create new products and strategies. It helped significantly in terms of cultural change within the organisation to give them a common goal and help breakdown barriers between departments. It also gives staff across the business more engagement with their managers and a platform to challenge their thinking.

We are currently in the middle of developing our strategic goals for 2020/2021 and will be using the Innovation Canvas to help identify the challenges and problems and deliver the strategy. For Playdale the Innovation Canvas helps us manage risk and identify the skills, resource, financial and external factors we need to consider for each individual project and to help move the business forward. It helps us ask the right questions upfront. KTN has also been instrumental in connecting us to a wide network of individuals and organisations including an introduction to the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) by the KTN Manufacturing team to resolve some of our challenges. We believe we have become much more innovative as a business. 2020 is the year for us to take our digitalisation and visual management plans to the next level and the Innovation Canvas will be instrumental in making this happen. The business is now at a stage where we can guarantee job security and we are now £1m more profitable.


  • Using the Innovation Canvas, Playdale was able to assess risk, identify problem areas and find the right solutions to move the business forward.
  • The Innovation Canvas has provided a standardised, streamlined process to managing projects which has helped make the business more profitable.
  • The KTN provided a third-party validation of Playdale’s innovation process and helped provide a structure on how to improve.

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