How Co-creation Leads To Successful Innovation

John W Lewis's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Sep 29, 2016

This week's topic of co-creation and its contribution to innovation is chosen and framed by our guest Derek Miers, @bpmfocus.  He is a frequent participant in #innochat ("innocat") who specialises in enabling and facilitating organizations, teams, and individuals to co-create at Structure Talent.


Image from Leading Cities 

Here is Derek's framing of the topic and questions (based on a longer post, linked to below):

Innovation and Co-Creation

To me, true innovation is inherently about exploring first the ‘why’ and then the ‘how’ of coming up with new ways of creating and/or delivering value. It’s not just one or two people having a brilliant idea; it’s translating that idea or invention into something that creates value for a customer. It’s a team sport. That’s where co-creation comes into the picture.

But customers are not just those external to the organisation. Sure, ultimately, external customers provide the income that funds business operations, but thinking of “service enabling” internal business functions also represents a form of innovation. 

The point is that having a great idea is not (and was never) enough. You need to ‘operationalise’ the idea, and that means engaging customers, the people inside the business and its partners. That implies executing changes to current business operations to get the product or service launched.

It’s a bit like left and right-brain thinking—like design thinking and operational excellence, like a business vision and continuous improvement—one needs the other for long term success.

Innovation Means Change

Whether at the macro level of responding to market evolutions, the actions of competitors, and the ever evolving expectations of customers; or at the small scale of working practices, processes and organisational functions—change means needing to re-think customer value, and how to deliver this value. For innovation to succeed, the organisation, and the people within it, needs to start to think ‘outside-in’. If the scope is an internal business unit, then rethinking the role of that unit outside-in will also make a compelling difference.

And that’s where the challenges start to emerge. So for most innovators—whether internally or externally focused—rather than coming up with the initial idea, the real challenge is to overcome the road blocks associated with operationalising the concept. Firms get a much better result—richer and more compelling—when they engage the collective knowledge and expertise of the crowd.

Co-creation implies:

  • If you engage your staff to design their future, it’s theirs. 
  • Value co-creation occurs when you engage employees into re-thinking how they address their customers’ needs. 
  • Quasi-competitive teams that share artefacts at regular intervals created rapid evolution. 
  • The teams define the new services and products by working outside-in. 
  • The teams design the core of the target operating model and the change program. 
  • The key difference is that the participants then champion the new ways of working.

Your furniture (or systems) will not transform your business. You have to engage your employees to do that.

(For more comprehensive coverage of this subject, see this longer post: How Co-Creation Leads To Successful Innovation.)


Let's discuss this topic during #innochat on Twitter on September 29, 2016 at our regular time (12noon Eastern time each Thursday), based on the following questions:

  1. What does co-creation mean to you in the context of innovation?
  2. What role does exploring wicked problems have in innovation?
  3. Does co-creation apply only to customers, or is there also a place for it in internal transformation efforts?
  4. What techniques have you seen work to build engagement around innovation challenges?
  5. How can one overcome the management tendency to attempt to dictate change?


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