I love gardening. When I am juggling my work-life balance, I find that planting, uprooting, and dividing plants relaxes me and helps me get perspective. And when I decided it was time to take my garden up a notch, I turned to my Facebook friends and followers for ideas and inspiration. Through the process of co-creation, they offered new perspectives; posted ideas I had never thought of before; voted on my concepts; and helped me refine the designs.
Co-creation is a collaborative, problem-solving process that puts customers at the heart of a company's brand and marketing strategy. Through a series of steps, customers and client stakeholders work together to contribute, evaluate, and refine ideas and concepts. The result? Ideas, themes, and concepts for new products / services, product extensions, brand development, and promotions that are truly relevant to the customer and fit the client's business objectives.
Interest in co-creation is exploding as companies jump on the co-creation bandwagon. (If you Google "co-creation," you will get over 93 million hits!)
Thinking of embarking on your own co-creation project? Here are some tips on how to leverage it for success:
- Create an accepting environment. Co-creation involves a certain amount of risk taking for both customers and clients. It is crucial that participants feel comfortable enough to share their innermost thoughts and feelings. Investing time in ice breakers to get to know one another and the facilitator paves the way for participants to become more engaged in the workshop and contribute more effectively. Also, honoring individual opinions (even if no one else feels that way) will go a long way to creating that environment.
- Recruit bright, creative customers who are very familiar with your product or service. Customers are more willing than ever before to give their opinions, especially when you offer them a chance to influence how their favorite loyalty program develops. Since co-creation requires customers who articulate and share thoughts, and can build upon others' ideas, KS&R employs personality inventory questions when assembling customer teams for co-creation.
- Clients need the right mindset. Brief client participants thoroughly to ensure their active engagement and openness to working with customers. Co-creation requires stakeholder empathy for customers, and while criticism can be hard to hear, it leads to a deep understanding of what is important to the customer.
- Allow for differences in the ways people think, create and process information, whether "lone wolves", introverts, or extroverts. Use a variety of exercises -- structured, unstructured, auditory, visual, and tactile -- to encourage creativity. In a workshop KS&R facilitated, consumers and stakeholders went through a series of sensory exercises to tackle the concept of "clean" for a medical device manufacturer.
- Ensure a good balance of creativity and validation. In KS&R's co-creation workshop to design the ideal workflow process for a software provider, customers and clients paired up to collaborate in creating storyboards, using photos, drawings, and text, to illustrate the optimal experience.
The storyboards were critiqued by the workshop participants in order to improve and enrich the functions and feature requirements. Participants then "voted" to validate the best ideas, placing color sticky dots on the storyboard elements of greatest relevance and value.
My garden is an ongoing DIWO adventure... I hope you enjoy the photos!
I also hope that I have piqued your interest in co-creation. If you would like to learn more about implementing co-creation in your company, please contact us.
All the best,