by Jack Martin Leith

“Co‑creation is not about ‘build it and they will come.’ Rather, it is about ‘bring them together and build it with them.’

Co‑creation harnesses human potential to mutually expand value. It not only views individuals as having creative capacities to forge mutually valuable outcomes together, but also that they attach meaning to their experiences of these outcomes and their very acts of creative interactions with the environments around them.

Thinking of co‑creation in this way takes us well beyond crowdsourcing and open innovation. It can include any of the value chain activities of any business, civic, or social enterprise—activities that can be opened up to more inclusive, creative, and meaningful engagement with stakeholders.”

Source: Co‑creating Development, by Venkat Ramaswamy, Ph.D., Hallman Fellow of Electronic Business and Professor of Marketing at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan | Download pdf
I am the architect of Rich Co-creation, a set of principles and practices employed in projects where stakeholders work together on an equal footing, from start to finish, in order to bring forth a mutually beneficial result. This could mean eliminating a tough problem, bringing about a desired change, creating something new, or utilising value generation potential more fully.

Rich Co-creation incorporates principles, models and methods drawn from many fields — notably innovation, problem solving, organisation development, change management, group dynamics, teamwork, systems thinking, decision making, project management, and event management.

The rich prefix indicates that this form of co-creation is full-bodied and capable of generating significant downstream value.

Rich Co-creation is the principal means by which a generative enterprise gets things done, accomplishes its mission and translates its purpose into action.

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Read about Generative Enterprise

Two types of work

In any enterprise, two types of work are carried out:

Continuous work This type of work has no start or end point. It just keeps rolling along — day in, day out.

Examples: Processing invoices, greeting visitors, driving a truck, talking with customers, running an IT helpdesk.

Project work This type of work has a clear start and end point. It is generally undertaken by a team, often with members drawn from different functions and hierarchical levels. In some cases, the team will include external stakeholders such as customers or suppliers.

Examples: Conceiving and launching a new product, improving a business process, solving an intractable problem, creating an advertising campaign, carrying out a reorganisation.

Rich Co-creation is a way of designing and conducting project work.

What’s special about Rich Co-creation?

Limited range of applications — mostly product and service innovation.Wide range of applications including product and service innovation, whole systems change, complex problem solving, and expanding value generation capability or utilising it more fully.
Limited set of beneficiaries — mostly customers and service users.Rich Co-creation is generative, seeking to generate the maximum amount of value for the greatest number of beneficiaries.
Co-creation capability resides in an organisational function such as innovation.Co-creation is an enterprise-wide capability.
Co-creation is a technique employed for ad-hoc projects.Co-creation is an enterprise-wide practice; it is the way project-based work gets done throughout the enterprise.
Co-creation meetings, workshops and large-scale gatherings employ a ‘one size fits all’ process.Co-creation meetings, workshops and large-scale gatherings are custom-designed using explicit principles.

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The linkage from the co-creation project to the enterprise’s purpose, vision and strategy is tenuous or absent.In a generative enterprise, these is a clear line of sight from even the smallest co-creation project to the overall strategy and mission, and every project team member is able to see how his or her efforts contribute to the accomplishment of the mission and, as a consequence, to the manifestation of intent (purpose/vision synthesis).
Pseudo co-creation abounds, employing the Test or Consult modes summarised in the graphic below.Pseudo co-creation is not tolerated.
Tell — Sell — Test — Consult — Co-create: elaborated model
View the Rich Co-creation principles