There’s a lot to said for co-creation in innovation. And I believe that it’s absolutely crucial. But only at the right time. You need to start by knowing what your end-user needs and wants. Base your ideas on this, then use co-creation to complete the idea. Together with your end-users, you can co-create propositions that integrate perfectly with their lives.

Co-creation rounds can costly and time-consuming, but they do add a great deal of value to your end proposition. We see so many products appear on the market which makes you think – “Great idea but how many people will really buy this?”
One example of this is Philips Living Colors. A lamp that allows you to change its colour whenever you choose, is a great idea and people do indeed love it and went out to buy the product.

But when we did some lighting work a few years ago, we interviewed owners of these lamps in their homes and we noticed that most women hid the lamp behind a couch. They like the colour lighting but didn’t necessarily like the way the lamp itself fitted into their living rooms.Philips has since then improved the design a lot, but I’m convinced that they would have sold even more if they had co-created the initial idea untill the final design with their end-users.

How do you co-create?

To give you an idea of how this works in practise, here is a fictitious example of a solution based on beer.

Let’s start with some background – It’s a fact that there is a direct correlation between the availability  of cold beer and the consumption of beer in a households. In other words, if people have cold beer readily available in their homes they tend to drink more beer than if this wasn’t the case. So the challenge is: how do we make sure poeple always have a stock of cold beer available?

OK, this isn’t exactly something that’s going to purposefully change the world, but it works to illustrate the merits of co-creation 🙂 .

So imagine that one of the ideas was to create an ‘outside fridge’. A branded fridge bearing the emblems of, let’s say, Heineken or Budweiser, that you can purchase from them, perhaps for a very attractive price.  You can simply put it outside on your balcony or in your backyard. It can hold one crate of beer and is completely weatherproof. This way you don’t need to keep the beer in the house or in your kitchen fridge, but still always have a cold stock available in a place where it’s not in the way.

Good idea. Now after this ideation we could start designing a fridge, test the concept and create the product. I’m pretty sure a bunch of people would like one. Or we step into co-creation first to see if we can expand the impact.

We now go back to families and discuss the idea. We ask them to improve it for us, not to judge it. How could it better fit into their lives? What do we need to change and improve?

The men might intuitively love the idea of fridge branded with their favorite beerbrand in the yard. But  women could argue that they are not that keen on a branded green or red fridge on their balcony. So how would you like it ladies? “Well garden wood would be nice! And I’d like to be able to paint it any color myself.”

Heineken schets

So we re-scetch the idea this way and go into a second round of co-creation.

New drawing Round 3.“Well”, say the women, “Could we not put it on its side? And give it a cushion on top? This way it could double as a seat?”

The men wonder about the crate that is now on it’s side. “The beer will fall out”. So we tilt the crate sideways.

The women wonder about the weight of their new garden seat: “It’s quite heavy to move around”. So we add wheels.

“Now we need a long power cord”. Create a cord.

“For this power plug I need to drill a huge hole in my wall”. So we enable the plug to be unscrewed, now you only need drill a small hole for the cord and re-attach the plug on the other side.”

Finalise the idea into a real concept

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Can you see where this is going? From a branded fridge we came to a total solution – we now have created a fully functional unflawedstoragesolution that men love, that doubles as garden furniture that women really do not mind.

In this process of 3 or 4 co-creation rounds we turned an idea with potential into a concept with real pull.

Again this example is completely fictional, just to illustrate the point  that co-creation is such a powerful way to get Full Pull. Simple, intuitive and rewarding.

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