I overheard a conversation the other day and the people were talking about how their company is eager to co-create so they have asked their stakeholders for suggestions. I immediately cringed. A suggestion box, or inviting people to share their feedback, is an important first step, but not sufficient a step to result in the power of co-creation.
In design thinking, co-creation is a back and forth two way exchange. It is dynamic and fluid and goes deeper than just the surface of a one way suggestion in a suggestion box. The folks talking were excited that they were going to ask for feedback. I have seen this before where companies solicit stakeholders to give feedback. But then nothing happens. And, if it does, the originator of the suggestion is in the dark. “Why did I bother?” they may think. Co-creation not only delivers better ideas it also honors the origins of that idea by involving the other stakeholders throughout.
Here is what is critical about co-creation:
1) There is a two way conversation.
2) There is doing, not just talking. So one party prototypes and demonstrates what they are thinking and the others react/make it better by showing what they think (prototyping and sketching too).
3) We respond to your direction with curiosity and an orientation of learning and this prompts new aha’s and new questions.
4) Out of this back and forth a new idea emerges that may or may not resemble the original suggestion or our original idea, but is is a better idea born from the humble beginnings.
5) This emergent idea is not just our “original agenda” recast as a response to your suggestion.
Co-creation is a hot idea these days; but to do it, we need to not mistaken it for its passive cousin, the suggestion box or feedback form.
Push out of your comfort zone and engage in co-creation on something you are working on for someone else. It can be a small thing or a big one, but the key is to let go of the control and engage together.