At Limelights, we believe that the only real way to accelerate sustainability (or any other change management initiative) is to empower people within organizations to act. While sustainability involves sophisticated technical solutions to help us live within our planetary boundaries, it also requires (wo)manpower and collective learning. In other words: co-creation.
What is co-creation?
Co-creation is a form of collaborative innovation in which ideas are shared and improved upon together, as opposed to siloed between teams. While most innovation or change management initiatives are carried out top-down, co-creation intentionally involves people at all levels – because the best ideas are with the people who are doing the work first-hand. Co-creation can even bring in fresh perspectives from outside an organization, from groups like (prospective) customers, suppliers, competitors, and industry experts. In our work, we’ve also found that co-creation gives employees a sense of (co-)ownership, in which they feel that their ideas belong to them as well as the business. This, in turn, gives them the freedom to drive creative change.
In short, co-creation is the opposite of “directing” change and expecting people to do what they are told. This way of working is disempowering, anti-innovative, and frankly, out of fashion.
Benefits of co-creation
💥 New and creative ideas
💥 Better products
💥 Stronger financial performance
💥 Makes co-creators (i.e. your people) feel heard and valued
💥 Removal of barriers between teams (also known as the “silo effect”), resulting in higher levels of inclusion
The biggest human achievements, from the first moon landing to the invention of the internet, have been a result of co-creation (and dreaming big). Unfortunately, many of us have lost the habit of co-creation, letting our creative and collaborative muscles deteriorate. But, not to worry! Co-creation is in our nature – and it’s easier to pick up than you might think.
An example of co-creation in action: IKEA 🇸🇪
In 2018, IKEA launched “Co-Create IKEA,” a digital platform allowing customers to develop and test new products in collaboration with IKEA, akin to open-source development in IT. In 2020, the company opened its first Co-Create Hub in the IKEA Home of Tomorrow in Szczecin, Poland, giving everyone a space to co-create better living futures with IKEA.
By crowdsourcing product ideas and suggestions and connecting with innovation labs around the world, IKEA can continuously innovate and drive its mission of providing affordable, environmentally-friendly products for customers around the world. It also has a nice added benefit of enhancing satisfaction and building deeper relationships with customers and collaborators.
The smartest organizations have built-in co-creation in their core culture.
How to kickstart co-creation within your organization to accelerate sustainability
- Present a specific challenge to get even better solutions. 🎯 While it might be tempting to ask your people for general ideas and suggestions, we’ve found that it’s more effective to use a targeted approach and ask people for specific solutions to specific problems. This way, you are more likely to receive feasible suggestions from people who know their stuff.
- Lay out the process in clear detail to build trust and transparency. 📝 Being upfront about your process and end goal will help to create trust with your people, as they will see your clear intentions of collaboration. Better informed teams result in better solutions.
- Organize your co-creation in a facilitated space. 🌐 While co-creation often harnesses the power of serendipity (and, let’s face it, a little bit of magic), it requires more facilitation than you might think. Most co-creation activities happen in workshops, meet-ups, and meetings – facilitated conversations where people can share ideas, suggestions, and best practices. Facilitated spaces not only create the best space to generate ideas, but also to get yourselves organized (prioritizing, structuring, making decisions, etc.). Organize your co-creation efforts in an organized manner to make the most of your collaboration.
- Make the work meaningful to employees. 💎 Find ways to intrinsically motivate each employee and stimulate their curiosity so they can identify unique ways to be part of the change. Give your people a purpose and make the challenge personal to them.
- Make it fun! 🎢 Understandably, accelerating sustainability can be a daunting prospect. By focusing on all opportunities and possibilities and making the work fun, you can build an exciting work environment that encourages creative thinking and inventiveness. At Limelights, we design brilliantly interactive sessions with large groups to really inspire everyone to start doing instead of talking.
Co-creation has evolved from hype into a respected way of working. If you’re looking to make large-scale transformation for good, don’t forget: sustainability starts with people.
👉 Need some help? Get in touch with us today to activate your people to accelerate sustainability!