Co-creation – how to truly involve your employees in change

Kirsty_Walden– Posted by Kirsty Walden

‘Co-creation’ (or to use the other new term ‘crowd-sourcing’) is one of those buzz words that often appears in business journals, blogs or articles in relation to the next big thing in product development or customer service initiatives. So what exactly is co-creation? And what does it have to do with engaging employees?

Put simply, the definition of co-creation is when two or more people come together as a collaborative team, to create something beyond their individual capabilities, without not knowing what the outcome will be, but trusting that the collaborative process will lead to the right outcome.

Many well known brands now use co-creation tools or techniques to develop and design new products or customer-service processes through online platforms. These platforms enable their community of members to submit contributions, activate their social networks, and rate, vote and comment on contributions. Some even provide gamification features like the ability to earn points or progress through levels to encourage community members to participate more.

For example, Starbucks use their dedicated ‘My Starbucks idea’ website (see image below) to regularly poll their customers for their favorite products and use leaderboard to track which customers are the most active in submitting ideas, comments, and poll participation.

Starbucks - my idea

Given the emphasis the recent MacLeod Report on Employee Engagement (Engaging for Success) puts on ‘employee voice’ (the extent to which employees feel able to voice their ideas, and that these views are listened to and valued) co-creation represents a huge opportunity to build employee engagement for those organisations looking to keep their people engaged and committed during change programmes.

After all, what better way to build buy-in and embed change among employees than by actually involving them in the outcome?

We’ve recently worked with a number of our clients on projects that includes a large element of ‘co-creation’ to involve their people in shaping solutions or the outcome of a change process. (Check back soon to read the case studies or get in touch if you’d like to hear more about these projects).

Our top ten co-creation tips include:

  • Create a team of champions/advocates that represent the different demographic characteristics of the employee base – try to ensure a good mix of people from different business areas, seniority and length of service
  • Be clear on the role you want them play in the programme and what will be expected from them
  • Communicate with them regularly, even if this just an informal phone call to check-in
  • Support and enable your champions with materials and resources (but try not to be too rigid or restrict how they use them or want to engage colleagues)
  • Provide a platform for the champions to connect and collaborate together (even if this is just virtually)
  • Design and deliver facilitated workshops to gather their thoughts and feedback in a structured and consistent way
  • Be transparent about what the consolidated feedback is saying from each step in the programme and how this feedback will (or won’t) be used