Co-Creation

Your constantly-updated definition of Co-Creation and collection of topical content and literature

What is Co-Creation?

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:

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Co-creation – Service Design’s “Central Nervous System” 

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

How to Facilitate a Co-Creation Workshop

Follow these steps to plan and get the most from a productive collaborative workshop: 

  1. Begin with an overview of what you want to examine.

  2. Determine the goal – what do you want to achieve for your organization/service?

  3. Decide who needs to be there – only include relevant personnel.

  4. List tangible outcomes – to tightly manage the workshop and avoid getting bogged down in unrealistic pursuits.

  5. Decide when and where it will be.

  6. Work backwards to make a plan – determine what you want to achieve, then design the steps towards it.

  7. Detail each section’s activities.

  8. Warm up with improv games.

  9. Be careful with brainstorming – brainwriting is better here.

  10. Sketch out more ideas – use ecosystem maps, empathy maps, etc.

  11. Share the ideas.

  12. Keep track of the time – which also helps to keep on tangent, let everyone contribute, etc.

Tips

  • 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

Learn More about Co-creation

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/

Literature on Co-Creation

Here’s the entire UX literature on Co-Creation by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Co-Creation

Take a deep dive into Co-Creation with our course Service Design: How to Design Integrated Service Experiences .

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.

In a service design process, you use an in-depth understanding of the business and its customers to ensure that all the touchpoints of your service are perfect and, just as importantly, that your organization can deliver a great service experience every time. It’s not just about designing the customer interactions; you also need to design the entire ecosystem surrounding those interactions.

In this course, you’ll learn how to go through a robust service design process and which methods to use at each step along the way. You’ll also learn how to create a service design culture in your organization and set up a service design team. We’ll provide you with lots of case studies to learn from as well as interviews with top designers in the field. For each practical method, you’ll get downloadable templates that guide you on how to use the methods in your own work.

This course contains a series of practical exercises that build on one another to create a complete service design project. The exercises are optional, but you’ll get invaluable hands-on experience with the methods you encounter in this course if you complete them, because they will teach you to take your first steps as a service designer. What’s equally important is that you can use your work as a case study for your portfolio to showcase your abilities to future employers! A portfolio is essential if you want to step into or move ahead in a career in service design.

Your primary instructor in the course is Frank Spillers. Frank is CXO of award-winning design agency Experience Dynamics and a service design expert who has consulted with companies all over the world. Much of the written learning material also comes from John Zimmerman and Jodi Forlizzi, both Professors in Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University and highly influential in establishing design research as we know it today.

You’ll earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you complete the course. You can highlight it on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile or on your website.

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