Customers Co-Creation Is Your New Competitive Advantage

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How do you build a product your customers want?

How do you decrease the risk of building the wrong product?

How do you increase the time to market of your product?

The answer… co-creation!

What Is Co-Creation?

Co-creation is a technique of product development that brings together the product team within an organisation and their stakeholders, which could include customers, users, suppliers, etc so they can collaborate on the creation of the product. The team is guided through a series of steps that allow the team to see the big picture as well as the information at the Requirements level in order to generate dialogue, diagrams and ideas that deliver value to both the organisation and the end-users. Co-creation is about having an active and engaged cohort of stakeholders committed to creating the right product for the right customer.

What Are The Benefits Of Co-Creation?

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. If you want to go fast and far, use co-creation.

  1. Bringing in different stakeholders from different parts of an organisation as well as external stakeholders allows a product team to access new and different ways of thinking to design and develop the product
  2. If a product team has the co-creation process fine tuned, it has the ability to decrease the build-measure-learn cycle time increasing speed to market and product-market-fit
  3. When co-creating with stakeholders, the product team is able to gather the right information, from the right people quickly to be able to then build a product that more accurately meets the needs of the end user. This significantly decreases the risk of building the wrong product
  4. With the right product team and the right stakeholders in the room, there is a higher probability that the quality of ideas are higher and that the volume of ideas specific to the pain, gain, jtbd is also more focused

How To Run A Co-Creation Workshop

In order to run a co-creation workshop, you’re going to need a few things and follow a basic process.

STEP 1: FACILITATORS

The outcomes of the co-creation workshop is, to a degree, dependent on the knowledge and experience of the facilitators. The co-creation facilitators will need to, well, facilitate. They will also need skills in leadership, defining goals and objectives, creating hypotheses and experiments, encouraging dialogue and gathering feedback. They’re also going to need to be good at thinking on their feet in situation where there may be a lot of ambiguity or contradictory opinions. It is best if there are two facilitators for any co-creation workshop; one to run the workshop and another to assist and take notes.

STEP 2: PURPOSE

The purpose of any co-creation workshop is for an organisation and it’s stakeholders to work together to discover new ideas, solutions, processes, procedures, workflows, etc in an effort to dispel any assumptions an organisation has around building the product. Co-creation is all about engaging the stakeholders to build a product quicker, more accurately and with less risk and that provides a solution to their pains, gains and jtbd.

STEP 3: OUTCOME

There’s little point spending time, money, energy and effort with no clearly defined outcome for the co-creation workshop. Further, if your stakeholders are taking time out of their day to participate and they perceive the process to be meandering aimlessly with no value being generated, then it’s likely a) they won’t be too happy and b) they won’t want to participate again. 

An organisation should have a clearly defined outcome about why it’s running the co-creation workshop. It should have a set of assumptions and hypotheses it wants to test around a specific pain, gain or jtbd.

STEP 4: MATERIALS

Ideally, a co-creation workshop would be run in an environment that was purpose built for such an event i.e. large space for collaboration, lots of whiteboard space and movable furniture for different types of breakout sessions. Along with the physical location, participants will need material such as post-its, butch’s paper, sharpies, cards, prototyping material, etc.

STEP 5: PLAN

To make the most out of the time available, it’s necessary for the facilitators to plan and prepared a few exercises. Each exercise should have a goal, a time limit, a purpose and a different way of eliciting responses from participants. One exercise might be collaborating on a whiteboard while another might be individually brainstorming ideas on to an A4 piece of paper.

Along with the actual exercises, don’t forget to schedule the introduction, breaks, actual exercises and, finally, the wrap up.

STEP 6: STAKEHOLDERS

Once the outcome is clear and the assumptions, hypotheses, pains, gains and jtbd have been identified, it’s time to invite the most suitable stakeholders to participate in the co-creation workshop. Here, an organisation is looking for about 3 – 16 participants from different areas. The ideal outcome would be participants with different knowledge and experience working on one problem and generating unique ideas and solutions. In contrast, if five software engineers were invited to a co-creation workshop, it’s highly likely the solution would be software based and technical.

STEP 7: SYNTHESIZE

Once all the exercises have been completed and the data generated, it’s the role of the facilitators to collect, distill and analyse the information in preparation to share it with the rest of the product team.

I hope you’ve found this co-creation blog useful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch or comment below.

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