Co-creation is an approach, a philosophy, a tool. It is not an end in itself. If we don't know why we co-create then we are blind. What meaning and utility does it have? In the service of what, of what issues do we wish to co-create? It is only by answering these questions that we can think about the tools, methods and conditions that will create the conditions for a successful co-creation process.
There is a singular difference in knowing the others and building something with them. To build together is to make a common work, it is to link our stories in an indelible way. Whether the co-construction is ephemeral or not, it is inscribed in time, sometimes in space. Participation has been stripped of one of its most important ingredient. The power to act and to contribute to the decision. Taking part in the decision-making process, is one of the elements that gives meaning to participation. It is a form of recognition of one's place in the community. But participating in the decision means first of all identifying disagreements as well as agreements. It means accepting that a decision is not the strict reflection of our personal will. Associating is the first step towards sustainability.
How to think and collectively realise solutions?
How to make them effective and sustainable in longer terms?
How to act locally thinking globally?
How to share resources fairly and multiply benefits?
Step 1: How to create the conditions for a successful co-creation process
The identification of the key stakeholders active on the territory (cf Reconnaissance), the development of a strategy to engage the local community (cf Engagement) and the the spread of inhabitants stories by the ceation of a common history (cf Storytelling), are the required ingredients to create the conditions for a successful co-creation process, with an active and sustainable participation.
From these 3 first steps, the issue here is to identify the social challenge with the stakeholders to turn global strategy into local actions, based on shared values (cf Tool 1 : Stakeholder Engagement Strategy)
Tool 1: Stakeholder engagement strategy
This scheme helps you identify potential partners and strategize how to best motivate them and encourage them to work with you. Learn how to identify what you have in common, what’s in for the potential partner and how to go about the relationship : turn strategy into action !
This diagram should be used as a hopscotch, step by step, and can be drawn in life size to make its use more playful.
Planning the relationship with your stakeholders
What is the current stage of the relationship with your stakeholder ? Analyze what phase of partnership you and partner are, so that you can move through the next phases and build a strong partnership together.
You can use “pre-relationship : initial stages : developing key details : mature relationship : stakeholder involved at the core of my project / …
How will you interact with these stakeholders to ensure long term commitment ?
Building partnerships takes a lot of effort from all those involved. They often take considerable investment of time to build high quality working relationships that underpin effective collaboration. You might want to think about how frequently you will interact, how you will measure the effectiveness of the interaction, the results you want to get, the people you will appoint to this task…
What is the social challenge you are tackling ?
What difference are you trying to make ?
What are the common values you have in common with stakeholders that are facing the same social challenge as you ?
Choose the 3 most relevant stakeholders between : media partners, peers /similar project, communities you work with, institutional partners, sources of funding and identify common values.
Tool 2: Social Canvas
Created by Social Innovation Lab (2013), this Canvas is commonly used by social organizations and takes into account all the necessary components needed to achieve both social and economic sustainability.
You can reapply this canva for a social project and realize it with the stakeholders.
As you can notice, it comprises twelve building blocks, providing details on how an impact organization creates, delivers and captures value. Each block strictly relates to the other ones, since organizations are ecosystems made of intertwined, interconnected components.
Social Impact : Socially-oriented organizations all aim to change society for the better. This block is meant to highlight the ultimate social change the organization aims to generate.
Beneficiaries : With the term “beneficiaries” we usually refer to the persons mostly affected by the social problem tackled. In other words, people whose lives the organization wants to radically improve. In this block, it’s important to clearly identify target groups through segmentation criteria such as demographics, geographics, psychographics and behaviors.
Core Intervention(s) : An organization may have one or more core offerings or services. It’s important to list them all in here.
Value for Beneficiaries : When we talk about “value”, we usually refer to the main benefits provided to beneficiaries thanks to the core intervention.
Customers : Sometimes beneficiaries are able to pay for the product or service offered. When it happens, they are also the actual customers of the organization / the project. But most frequently, beneficiaries can’t afford doing that. Thus, third (paying) parties are needed. They can be companies, individuals, foundations, public authorities, just to name a few. This block shows who the ultimate payers truly are.
Value for Customers : When we talk about “value”, we usually refer to the main benefits provided to customers thanks to the core intervention.
Channels :This block lists all the main channels used in the project to get in touch, communicate and engage with the public, as well as to sell and deliver its solution. They can be either physical or digital, owned or indirect.
Key Activities : This section highlights all the mission activities needed to keep the business up and running. Community engagement may be an example of that.
Key Resources : Generally speaking, fundamental resources can be physical, intellectual, human, technological or financial.
Key Partners and Stakeholders : In this block, we include those players (public and private) that provide key external resources or support for the business model to actually work. You shouldn' confuse partners and stakeholders as they are not the same.
Cost Structure : Creating and delivering a product or service results in costs and expenses. In this block, we consider the major elements of cost impacting the project / the organization.
Revenue Engine : A project usually rely on a mix of different revenue streams to become (and remain) financially viable. You have to lists all the different ways your organization generates such revenues.
Surplus : Finally, this block explains how to intend to use the surplus, if and when generated. Examples of that may include reinvesting it to further increase the reach of impact or even donating it to related causes.
Step 2: How to associate the stakeholders in decisions
Co-construction is also about making compromises, finding one's place, one's complementarity, one's usefulness, one's meaning. Co-constructing is a practical exploration of oneself as much as of the others.
Participation has been stripped of one of its most important ingredients. The power to act and to contribute to the decision. Taking part in the decision-making process is one of the elements that gives meaning to participation. It is a form of recognition of one's place in the community. But participating in the decision means first of all identifying disagreements as well as agreements. It means accepting that a decision is not the strict reflection of our personal will. Associating is the first step towards sustainability.
Tool 3: Imagine your idea as a platform
This tool is about how accessible is your project is to the participation of your stakeholders and beneficiaries. It helps to clarify relationships between stakeholders and to identify what sustainability means for the project (human, financial).
Doers and makers : Set of players that are involved in the realization of the production of the idea / platform.
Beneficiaries and users : Players interested in accessing and utilizing what is created by the project and eventually do something with it.
Partners : Entities that create additional effectiveness to your mission. Partners can also facilitate, cater, enhance your mission by acting as facilitator and connectors.
External partners : Entities that have a specific interest in the platform, its success or failure, in controlling effects and outcomes of the project, in regulating it or exercising rights in the way the platform is run.
Your Organizational Model
How will your team be structured ? Think about what will the team dynamic be / horizontal vs. hierarchical structure
How is your organization structured ? Think about how stakeholders and beneficiaries are involved in the structure of your organization. Are they informing / consulting / (co-designing) / (co)producing / (co)managing ?
Is your organization open at its core ? Think about whether stakeholders can be integrated into the design, production and delivery of your project, especially if they will have a role at the core of it and if they will be taking on roles of management and governance.
If your project will be run by volunteers, how will your ensure their (human) sustainability ?
What’s in for your stakeholders ? What benefit do they get from participating ? What is the mutual benefit ?
What resources will you need from stakeholders to run your activities ? People, finance, infrastructure ?