Complete Co-Creation Defined

Guest AuthorMarch 16, 20184 min

What is complete co-creation and what is it not?

Recent years have witnessed an increase of people thinking and writing about co-creation. To the seemingly unequivocal label of ‘co-creation’, authors appoint many different things. These vary from market research to crowdsourcing, from design thinking to open innovation, and from participating research to organizational collaboration. Aiming to create clarity for brands in this conceptual swamp, we coined the term ‘complete co-creation’.

Definition And Premises Of Complete Co-creation

Complete co-creation means actively involving end-users and other relevant parties in a development process, from the identification of a challenge to the implementation and tracking of its solution. Complete co-creation is foremost a procedure which may evolve into an organizational principle, and potentially even a co-ownership. It is the transparent process of value creation in ongoing, productive collaboration with, and supported by all relevant parties, with end-users playing a central role.

A central premise of complete co-creation is that neither the various organizations in a value chain, nor the end-users can reach the ideal solution to any challenge without collaborating. This is because involved organizations and end-users have complementary knowledge and skills. The knowledge of product development and design, markets, suppliers, and sales channels is embedded within organizations.

In addition, end-users possess the key to their deeper motivations, dreams, and fears. Moreover, only end-users can provide a competitor analysis from a client’s perspective, know better than anyone how their decision making tree works, and can start word-of-mouth for the solution. This means that if all relevant parties – including the end-users – will work together on a given challenge, the solution will not only optimally serve the end-users’ needs, but will also gain acceptance and involvement of all parties responsible for its success.

Direct And Indirect Influence During Complete Co-creation

Complete co-creation does not mean that organizations share all decision making with end users and other relevant parties. Boards of directors are responsible for the choices of the organization, also when it applies complete co-creation. Complete co-creation does imply, however, that end-users and other relevant parties are actively involved in different ways and in various organizational processes. That means they are of direct and indirect influence on decisions and developments.

Indirect influence works through information and inspiration provided by the diverse parties involved, each from their own unique perspective and knowledge frame. Direct influence works through concrete ideas and advice, as well as through active involvement in the primary process of the organization.

Complete Co-creation As Related To Other Types Of Creation

The main difference between complete co-creation and other ways to solve challenges is the productive collaboration between one or more organizations, end-users, and other relevant parties throughout the development process.

Unique Characteristics Of Complete Co-creation

The most distinguishing characteristic of complete co-creation is the central role of end-users. Activities focused on value creation that fail to involve end-users, do not qualify as complete co-creation. End-users can add to a co-creation process in different ways, online as well as offline. Think active participation in creative sessions, optimization sessions, creative briefs, presentations to stakeholders, etc.

Another distinguishing characteristic is productivity. That refers to the premise that complete co-creation always leads to an implementable solution. When end-users and other relevant parties were involved, but failed to implement a concrete solution, the process does not qualify as complete co-creation.

Design Thinking And Complete Co-Creation

The popular movement of design thinking focuses on a creative, out of the box approach of challenges. User experience is its vantage point. Qualitative exploratory market research is the usual tool for gaining understanding of user experience, followed by concept testing.

Although design thinking is definitely a customer-centric approach and can very well be used to shape a complete co-creation trajectory, end-user involvement does not automatically make it co-creation. Only if end-users play an active, co-developing role in every step of the development process does design thinking fit the criteria for complete co-creation.

What Are The Three C’s For Effect Maximization?

  • Customer connection – an ongoing relationship between organization and end-users – is a precondition for complete co-creation.
  • Customer insight – a deep understanding of end-users’ motivations – is the central guideline for complete co-creation.
  • We refer to customer connection, customer insight, and complete co-creation as the three C’s for effect maximization.

Customer Connection, Customer Insight, And Complete Co-creation

There are three reasons why consistent implementation of the three C’s leads to effect maximization.

First: organizations that maintain continuous contact with their end-users through various online and offline channels know the unmet needs in their market and can respond to these faster and with greater relevance than their less customer connected competitors.

Second: organizations that take customer insight as a basis for their decision making are recognizable and attractive to their end-users.

Third: organizations that structurally embrace customer connection, customer insight, and complete co-creation create maximum relevance for their end-users, which often comes with sympathy, resulting in end-user loyalty.

‘The Future Isn’t Created, It’s Co-Created’ ~ Nilofa Merchant

We are in the middle of a paradigm shift. For decades, our world followed the rules of what we call the ‘Power Paradigm’.

Recent years, however, reflect a growing realization that we can accomplish more together than alone, and that sharing leads to better solutions, better experiences, and ultimately to a better world. This is driving more and more individuals, groups, and organizations to change their ways. The ambition to work towards a better world not only gives rise to fierce criticism of the singular focus on profit growth that characterizes many large corporations, but also to a new paradigm: the ‘Co-creation Paradigm’.

Contributed by Branding Strategy Insider by: Stefanie Jansen and Maarten Pieters, the authors of The 7 Principles of Complete Co-Creation.

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