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Co-creation as a cross-over genre

2012 July 9
by Francis Gouillart

 Yes, there is such a thing as business methodology fashion. Big data and social enterprise are hot. They’re the Kate Perry and Lady Gaga of business concepts, drawing huge crowds to seminars everywhere. Innovation is not far behind, but like Justin Bieber, it’s hot, rising, and in need of growing up. Customer experience is still high on the charts, but its Eminem alter ego, the Net Promoter Score band, is on the way down. Process design and quality, those Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd of the 70s, now belong on NPR fund-raisers for middle-aged corporate types. Organization and strategy have long gone punk and disco and only get rotation on oldies but goldies stations featuring specialty acts by aging professors. Leadership, like Jimmy Buffet, is still drawing huge crowds of parrot heads to executive education seminars at Harvard Business School. Operations is like hip-hop, more or less always in fashion, changing form all the time, sometimes Ice T gangsta rap, sometimes Black Eyed Peas mainstream.

So where does this leave co-creation, you might wonder? I think we’re like Beyoncé. A little r’n’b, a little hip-hop, a little pop. We’re a cross-over genre. Co-creation, through its communities aspect, is often listed by Billboard as HR and transformation (employee communities), sometimes as product development (customer communities). Because engagement platforms require technology, the charts have us as an IT act. When we rock on experience, we become Marketing artists. When we sing about interactions as the new process, we end up in Quality, 6 Sigma and Lean concerts. And when we show the cost effectiveness of co-creation, we end up on the financial charts.

We sometimes confuse our public, but heck, if it works for Beyoncé…

5 Responses leave one →
  1. August 5, 2012

    Hi Patti,Greetings from Tokyo. First many thanks for the kind words on the Concord Mafia ssosien and for sharing your reactions to the co-creation concept. On your question about what is different vs. the collaborative development or participatory design approaches, I would say the main difference is probably one of depth of stakeholder involvement in the design of the new interaction, and scale/number of people involved. Any conversation between two open-minded people is by definition co-creative (consulting is a good example), but a consultant typically does not give his/her conversation partner the tools to write his/her own proposal or design his/her own solution. In co-creation, you give the person being consulted to the tools to design his/her own solution (e.g., a process. a product design, an IT program, etc.). The other challenge is one of scale. Great consultants are by definition very hard to scale up , so the ambition of co-creation is to find an interface that embeds 20-30% of the value of the consultant in the interface tool (the platform ), but engages a large population in the use of the tool (several thousand people in the case of the French Post Office), therefore bringing a larger transformational impact (albeit less elegantly than a world-class consultant) to the company.

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