Stage 3 in the Design Thinking Process: Ideate
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Co-creation is the practice of collaborating with other stakeholders to guide the design process. Participants with different roles align and offer diverse insights, usually in facilitated workshops. Designers can therefore get more holistic views of what a product or service should include.
“An individual can’t create anything itself. All of our dreams come true with the cooperation and co-creation of other souls.”
― Hina Hashmi, Intuitive Empowerment & Happiness Coach, International Speaker & Clinical Psychologist
See how co-creation is vital to working towards the best solutions:
In service design, you’ll typically find yourself working with (or towards) an intricate ecosystem that contains many factors and actors operating at different levels and in different ways. That includes all the supporting roles of other services and the hard-to-see limitations and cause-and-effect chains as systems communicate behind the scenes to help delight—or provide the most relief to—service users in their contexts. For example, customers’ experiences of a bank go across various touchpoints as they use it for a variety of purposes. The bank offers them a wide array of services, including front-door security, deposit services and savings plans: all the many frontstage and backstage parts that combine to make each customer experience. If you wanted to improve that experience or develop your brand’s version of it, you’d first need to get a precise understanding of all the actors and the nature of the relationships between their various systems before you could empathize properly with everyone involved. That means empathizing with the customers and the service providers, including all the people you’d need to collaborate with to find the right problems to define and address. That’s why design thinking is essential to co-creation. It’s vital to get the clearest understanding of the various constraints, workflows, processes and more that services involve before you can make the most accurate customer journey maps and personas, and move your design process forward.
Co-creation is particularly about alignment between participants and cross-pollination of expertise and viewpoints. A highly interactive agile approach is how you gather the clearest insights and collaborate progressively with stakeholders and others. That way, you can cover all the angles regarding how the service can be delivered to maximize value to customers and the business. First, it takes insight and diplomacy to get to the level where you and (e.g.) stakeholders can move forward as a unified group of decision-makers under a common vision. This means you start to work with stakeholders, other teams, etc., to get them on board by embracing their strengths — not isolating their faults — and pooling your knowledge towards solving smaller problems before you try to tackle large ones.
Moreover, co-creation goes deeper than user research. It’s about making the best of a culture of service design where organizations foster an environment in which design teams and stakeholders can comfortably cross-pollinate, get on the same page and achieve congruence in execution as a core strategy. It also means considering the entire organization, instead of isolating important points by working backwards from the customer needs alone. And to tap the sheer variety of viewpoints, information, solutions and levels of ownership that everyone who should be co-creating with you possesses, a well-facilitated workshop is the way to go.
© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0
Follow these steps to plan and get the most from a productive collaborative workshop:
Begin with an overview of what you want to examine.
Determine the goal – what do you want to achieve for your organization/service?
Decide who needs to be there – only include relevant personnel.
List tangible outcomes – to tightly manage the workshop and avoid getting bogged down in unrealistic pursuits.
Decide when and where it will be.
Work backwards to make a plan – determine what you want to achieve, then design the steps towards it.
Detail each section’s activities.
Warm up with improv games.
Be careful with brainstorming – brainwriting is better here.
Sketch out more ideas – use ecosystem maps, empathy maps, etc.
Share the ideas.
Keep track of the time – which also helps to keep on tangent, let everyone contribute, etc.
Ensure your workshops are interactive and build on design thinking methods.
Invite stakeholders from across the board, provided they can contribute.
Work to discover what’s viable, what’s a direct need and what will benefit the customer and the business.
Work with domain experts.
Stay curious and keep listening – it takes time to become collaborative partners.
Use techniques such as the 5 Whys to stimulate collaborative efforts.
Remember, co-creation is a chance to combine skill sets and knowledge to cover all the bases early on and, ultimately, co-design even the most complex services and systems more successfully. You can bring customers into co-creation with service staging, to test your prototypes. As design is often termed a conversation and service delivery happens inside the organization as well as outside to the customers, co-creation is the way to speak to everyone involved.
©Fauxels and Pexels, CC BY-SA 3.0
Take our Service Design course, examining many aspects of co-creation and collaboration: https://www.interaction-design.org/courses/service-design-how-to-design-integrated-service-experiences
For some good tips about co-creation, read this UX Collective article: https://uxdesign.cc/empowering-and-engaging-through-co-creation-389c41904efc
This Smashing Magazine piece offers thought-provoking insights on collaboration and co-creation: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/05/fast-ux-research/
Here’s the entire UX literature on Co-Creation by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
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Services are everywhere! When you get a new passport, order a pizza or make a reservation on AirBnB, you're engaging with services. How those services are designed is crucial to whether they provide a pleasant experience or an exasperating one. The experience of a service is essential to its success or failure no matter if your goal is to gain and retain customers for your app or to design an efficient waiting system for a doctor’s office.
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