8 Helpful Hints… for Co-Creation

8 Helpful Hints… for Co-Creation

By Maz Amirahmadi · 30 August 2019 · 7 minute read


This edition of Helpful Hints follows our last post on Customer Journey Mapping (CJM). The outcome of a CJM project is typically a series of “How Might We…” challenges that are designed to overcome customer pain-points. Companies are increasingly using co-creation to find solutions to their customer pain-points.

The key principle of co-creation is that ideas are generated with a broad group of stakeholders (can be cross department, customers, KOLs, experts and so on) rather than in a singular silo.

Whilst there’s no single definitive process for co-creation, most of us would agree with the two key reasons why co-creation works so well:

  • None of us is as smart as all of us – pooling knowledge and experience from a wider base is better than coming up with ideas by oneself
  • Getting buy in for change – we all love our own ideas and so involving more people in their generation leads to better buy in down the road

Having been involved in co-creation for more than 10 years, we are hoping these hints will be helpful when you are considering a co-creative process. Good luck!

#1 - Before anything else, set very Tangible Outcomes

Setting tangible outcomes is critical to ensure everyone in the process is on the same page. I’d strongly recommend creating an ‘outcomes template’ and completing an example that will help guide everyone as to what is needed. One of the most important benefits of having an outcomes template is that the key stakeholders are aligned before the start.

To make this more practical consider the difference between an ‘objective’ and an ‘outcome’. Objectives are general and broad. Outcomes are specific and tangible:

  • Workshop Objectives: Create breakthrough ideas for shampoo packaging
  • Workshop Outcomes: Develop 4 x shampoo pack designs that are fully illustrated and include a list of unique selling points

#2 - Think Digital First

Workshop co-creation is traditionally the more common approach and may in many cases be the most appropriate option. However, with benefits of speed, scale and agility, we should start by thinking digital.

That said, workshops have their benefits too (facilitated in person, very focused attention, often done in a day, good for building empathy across teams).

#3 - Engage with internal cocreators

The first stop in selecting your co-creators should be internal. Getting a cross functional team involved helps get different perspectives and buy in for ideas generated. It’s helpful to organise the internal team into three groups:

#4 - Select external cocreators

Getting external people involved helps broaden the thinking when it comes to idea generation. Consider including some of the following:

  • Consumers or Customers The core target for our products or services
  • Tribes More extreme sets of consumers, for example Vegans
  • Opinion leaders (KOLs) – prominent social media personalities
  • Experts – Industry experts with specific knowledge on a topic
  • Creative Thinkers Arts students, designers                                                                               
  • Trade Stakeholders shop assistants, suppliers, technicians etc.

#5 – Avoid making it “them and us”

Co-creation can sometimes feel more like a question and answer session, rather than ideation. For example, we may invite customers and start asking them ‘what they want?’, or ‘what they think of our ideas?’. That’s all fine, it’s not really co-creation.

To avoid falling into this trap, make sure that everyone (including you) is considered a co-creator. We’re all in one team, with one objective, brought together because we have our own specific skills. Like The Avengers, kind of. Uhum.

Anyway, one way we’ve overcome this in the past is by having everyone wear co-creator t-shirts. Something about all wearing the same gear helps bond us into a team.

#6 - Use creativity tools

We should be realistic in what we can expect from co-creators. They are unlikely to turn up and come up with the next i-phone. Remember the famous faster horses comment from Henry T Ford?

Creativity tools can really help us come up with new ideas. Whilst there are lots of tools readily available (just Google it), keep a couple of important things in mind when selecting the tools:

  • There are different tools for ‘divergent’ and ‘convergent’ thinking… you usually need both for a cocreative process
  • For divergent thinking, some tools are good for ‘incremental innovation’ whilst others are good for ‘blue sky innovation’

#7 - Make it Fun

It’s a proven fact that we are more creative when we have fun. ‘Nuff said.

#8 - Look out for community creatives

If you have a community, you’ll be able to identify creative customers through live chats, blogs and forums. Keep a track of them, build a relationship with them and utilize them as a valuable resource

But if not, there are some easy ways to screen people for natural creativity or lateral thinking. Try asking your community these questions:

  • Apart from clipping paper, name 5 things you can do with a paper clip?
  • What has an elephant and a carpet got in common?
  • Which three animals of any species would you mould together for a new super animal?

Once you’ve identified the creatives, bring them into the office, train them on creative thinking,  think of them as a very valuable asset….they are your Creative Crew!