Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

Top-ten list of sponsors for co-creation efforts

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Periodically, I ask myself: “who are the most effective change agents when it comes to implementing co-creation inside a corporation?” Here is my list, in descending order of effectiveness:

1. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

  • Good news: The CFO’s source of power comes from controlling financial resources, often including IT money required for the development of co-creation platforms. They are often frustrated line managers who see co-creation as a means to gain influence over the operational side of the business.
  • Bad news: their analytical bias can overpower the human side of co-creation.
  • Good first step: issue cost reduction challenge to one of the businesses; suggest co-creation may be the way to reach that goal (get external people to do work for free that was previously done inside).

2. Chief Information Officer (CIO)

  • Good news: CIOs get to co-creation through the funding of engagement platforms. The role of CIO in co-creation is legitimized by the app store phenomenon (co-creation with third-party developers).
  • Bad news: CIOs often struggle with developing the human community part of co-creation (they can be too tool-focused).
  • Good first step: find a few APIs and open up some aspect of your customer-facing sites to third-party developers. Start connecting customers and developers.

3. Chief Purchasing Officer (CPO), Directors of Supply Chain

  • Good news: There is a new breath of fresh air with procurement departments; they increasingly recognize that they should be developing supplier networks rather than consolidating them. Supply chain people are often pushed to co-creation through the need to create transparency in their emerging country plants (often due to labor and sustainability issues).
  • Bad news: Supply chain people can get confused on the difference between collaborative supply chain tools that have been around for several years, and the actual development of co-creative supply chain communities that allows the constant reinvention of those supply chains.
  • Good first step: pick a particularly risky part of your supply chain (e.g., Chinese plant with labor issues), and demonstrate that you can remove some operational and reputational risk through co-creation.

4. Research and Development (R&D) Managers, Heads of Product Development

  • Good news: Many product development people know that co-creation is coming to product development and product design (also often referred to as open innovation, or crowd-sourcing).
  • Bad news: They often do not yet know how to involve their own people in co-creation and avoid the NIH syndrome. They often jump too fast to third-party platforms to generate product ideas, but fail to engage their own people in the dialogue.
  • Good first step: start inside.  Assemble your R&D people and see where they would welcome the engagement of external people. Only when you have their views will it become meaningful to engage external contributors.

5. Chief Experience Officer

  • Good news: more and more companies have experience officers.  Experience officers are natural sponsors for co-creation.
  • Bad news: many of them focus on measuring “as is” experience rather than trying to change it.
  • Good first step: pick a narrow segment (a single customer in B2B), engage the mini ecosystem involved in serving this narrow segment/single customer and see what co-creation can bring.

6. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Head of Market Research

  • Good news: CMO and market research people understand experience.
  • Bad news: they think of themselves as experience experts, and therefore see no reason to co-create any of that experience with anyone (since they know better).
  • Good first step: open up one of the brand management processes to customers and employees, e.g., advertising, and see what you get.

7. Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)

  • Good news: sustainability is one of the best fields of application for co-creation because of the multi-stakeholder nature of the problem.
  • Bad news: CSOs don’t typically have access to senior people and may not know how to engage them.
  • Good first step: team up with the sales force to embed sustainability in the sales message.

8. Performance Management, Quality, Reengineering, 6 Sigma, Lean, Transformation Officers.

  • Good news: Performance management people naturally gravitate toward co-creation as “the new tool kit.”
  • Bad news: The concept of process can be so engrained that moving to platforms and self-configured interactions can represent a mental challenge. Many struggle with the notion that the transformation path can/should itself be co-created, rather than established by experts.
  • Good first step: pick a customer-facing process, e.g., sales or customer service, and show how moving from process thinking to co-creation changes the outcome.

9. Strategy Officers

  • Good news: A few strategy officers understand the power of human experience in generating insights.
  • Bad news: most prefer an information-gathering and analytical approach.
  • Good first step: pick a self-contained strategy issue, and ask customer-facing people and a few customers how they would frame and solve the issue. Compare to the answer an analytical approach would have provided.

10. Human Resources Officers, Diversity Head

  • Good news: Of course, senior HR development people should be major players in co-creation.
  • Bad news: In practice, they rarely have access to the proverbial strategic table.
  • Good first step: co-create HR processes (e.g., training, hiring, career development) rather than tackling line processes.


Co-Creation = Ideas x Energy

Monday, December 13th, 2010

I had a Groundhog Day experience last week. I found myself interviewing the same person twice within a couple of weeks, with two different consulting colleagues, producing two completely different outcomes. The first time, the focus was on building an analytical model for a large hospital I happen to be consulting to. The solution was largely framed by the consultants: all that was needed was some data. The interviewee, who is in charge of one of the practices of this hospital, was composed and professional. He provided a lot of the requested information, but there was no warmth on either side. When the allotted time was up, it was clearly time to go.

The second time, the agenda was open. The focus was on understanding what the executive thought the company should do. Although starting in guarded fashion in light of his previous experience with the consultants, the executive progressively grew more excited, spent twice as much time as was allotted, and even got up in the middle of the discussion to print a slide that represented his vision. In the end, he asked us what we thought of his ideas and whether we could help him socialize some of these ideas with his management colleagues, volunteering that he is not very good at arguing for his vision at management meetings.

Having gone through my Groundhog Day moment, I found myself discussing with my analytically inclined colleagues what the value of our interviewee’s enthusiasm (and willingness to expose vulnerability) really is. If you are a left-brained top manager (or consultant), your answer is likely to be “not much.” The emphasis will be placed on proving (rarely) or disproving (most of the time) the validity of the vision that was expressed, and trying to remain as emotionally uninvolved as possible to avoid bias. The value of the top manager or consultant is in providing a greater level of expertise than the interviewee, which largely requires puncturing holes in his argument. If you believe in co-creation, however, you will value the emotional excitement in itself, will view your role as channeling the laudable energy, and will less likely feel the urge for intellectual one-upmanship. Of course, you will still want to validate that the interviewee is not talking through his hat, but the energy will have value in itself. This redefines the role of the top manager or the consultant as a partner in a “win more–win more” relationship, rather than as a Cassandra showing that the other person’s idea is flawed.

Of course, the two sides will happily caricature each other. Analytical minds will be tempted to describe the co-creation folks as spineless apologists for mediocre executives advancing their agenda, while co-creation people will be tempted to describe analytical types as irrelevant model-builders who will always remain on the expert sideline by failing to understand management dynamics.

What is needed is a giant ecumenical embrace that recognizes the value of both points of view. Being surrounded by engineers in my professional life, I have taken to writing a simple equation that attempts to capture both dimensions of the co-creation process:

Transformation = Ideas x Energy

The quality of ideas matters a lot. But the passion of individuals for these ideas also has value. In the end, there is a multiplicative effect between the two, i.e., the best ideas charged with the energy of the right people are the ones most likely to be transformative.

In the business world, I believe that energy is massively underplayed and analytical evaluation overplayed. The training at major business schools remains predominantly analytical (because teaching about models is easier than teaching about people and teams, although some schools are working hard on changing that). There may also be a male bias: since guys tend to be less intuitive than women about other people and continue to dominate the management ranks in most parts of the world (with some exceptions), the overall bias remains analytical. Also since business is largely about metrics (with money the ultimate one), it is easiest to think of everything else being numbers-based, which avoids the confusion of having to factor the human thing in the equation.

I gotta go now. My healthcare executive has had another thought he’d like to share. He and I, we’re now co-creating the future of healthcare.