Simon Terry

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Three Levels of Co-Creation

As we begin to explore the collaborative potential of connection, co-creation is becoming increasingly important solution to problems. Organisations are increasingly looking to employees, partners and suppliers to be a part of efforts to co-create solutions to complex problems. Collaborative co-creation is a key part of the Solve phase of the Value Maturity Model. As we practice co-creation, we discover bigger opportunities to create value.

Co-Creating Ideas

Most co-creation begins with some kind of crowd-sourcing of ideas to solve problems. Diversifying the sources and inputs into the creation of a solution can enable big steps forward. Often new stakeholders have solutions to hand, see potential to reuse capabilities or bring opportunities to do things in new ways. Crowd-sourcing can be a fast and effective way to gather inputs from a large group of people towards a solution.

Efforts at crowd-sourcing solutions need to plan for two main challenges:

  • Lack of Connection: To contribute meaningful solutions, people need to feel connected to the problem and to each other.
  • The Volume of ideas overwhelms Execution: ideas are great but the exercise to sift and integrate diverse ideas can be a drain on execution. This is why many efforts at crowd-sourcing turn into a show of ‘engagement’ with no traction on the ideas submitted.

Co-Creating the Work

The next level of co-creation is when people come together to take a solution and execute it. The challenges of a problem don’t stop when you have an idea. People need to solve all the little issues and manage the idea until it is successfully implemented.

Make sure the expectation in you co-creation community is that work will be done to solve the problem.  Give the community the autonomy to follow their ideas. People will contribute better ideas if they think that they have to see them through.  Co-creation is more meaningful to a community that has been asked to work the problem together. Challenge them to take their ideas and see them through to implementation.

Co-Creating the Problem

The final level of co-creation goes back to the start and looks at the system from a higher view.  This level removes the constraint that the problem definition is externally imposed on the community. At this level of co-creation, the community has responsibility to find, create and implement its own solutions. To do this the community is going to need to start to ask questions about Purpose, the scope of the system and what goals they have for the system.  Bring a diverse group of stakeholders in to shape the problems and you may discover new problems and that some of your current problems aren’t such a big issue. The third level asks the community to own co-creation from Purpose, through Diagnosis, and then to the Design and Execution of any solutions.


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