How to carry out co-creation sessions and not die trying
Novemeber 17, 2021
Have you heard the saying “practice what you preach”? Well, inside Byld we also apply innovation methodologies for solving different challenges. This way, we can be sure that we’re actually adding value for our partners.
In this article I would like to walk you through an innovation tool that is not “new” but due to its scope of action and ease of use, can be very handy. Without further ado, let me introduce you to the co-creation sessions.
Co-creation sessions become relevant as part of a larger discipline: design thinking. The advantages that this discipline entails are huge, so I won’t dwell on this, but I highly recommend taking a look at it, especially when it comes to developing innovative solutions from a human – centered approach.
But, when to perform them?
Whenever the company has a challenge to be solved, for which it’s not easy to find a solution and there’s the need to approach it from a non-conventional point of view.
These sessions are not supposed to be complicated, but instead systematic and structured. Based on previously established parameters of the company or work group, the outcome expected should be new concepts that allow the improvement of existing capabilities, products & services or the design of internal processes.
So, in terms of execution, how does it work exactly? Here are the steps to follow:
- Be clear about the challenge to be solved.
Keep in mind that this should be wide enough. From this point onwards, look for trends and / or agents that are related to this challenge. Very important, don’t be biased when doing research. You’ll be surprised by the information you can get when you integrate opposite and/or diverse perspectives.
- Build a stakeholder map and prioritize the top problems.
This map helps to have a clear picture of all the different stakeholders when addressing the challenge (here you should include all related sectors, cultures, diverse profiles, disciplines, etc). In parallel, you can begin to identify and prioritize the top problems revealed through in depth conversations with your stakeholders map.
- Define User Personas.
These are the people who use your product or service and ultimately those who you will be focusing when solving the problem. Having a right definition of the User personas allows the team to empathize with their specific motivations, needs and desires and becomes a relevant input for the ideation phase. For user personas, it’s very helpful to establish scenarios. In order to exemplify behaviors and dynamics, synthesize information and identify insights. This stage is the starting point for the ideation phase.
- Say “Hi” to the ideation phase.
It’s time to come up with ideas for solving the challenge, in other words, turn problems into opportunities. For this step, keep two things in mind:
– Creativity also needs to be exercised. I highly recommend warm-up activities at the beginning of every session in order to unlock creativity potential. Here are some good ice – breakers examples. Also, be as visual and dynamic as possible. Post-its, canvases and frameworks can be useful to put ideas together.
– The golden rule: There is no such thing as a bad idea. It’s really common to kill the ideas of others, especially when you have a pre-conception of how things should be or work. In this regard, facilitators are the ones in charge that this rule is fulfilled. You’ll be amazed by all of the ideas that can come up together when all brains work, limitless. Remember to diverge and then converge.
- Vote for the winning ideas.
This is the final step. Before voting, you can make clusters of ideas that have a common basis. With that group of ideas that came up from the ideation exercise, the team can prioritize those that solve a problem for a specific target and select the winning ones.
Classify carefully those concepts that are an innovative solution and those that are somehow already in the market. Your company will have a big plus if the winning concepts have the “wow effect”. This means that they have potential to create memorable experiences for your stakeholders. In the end, we are in the era of “experiences”.
Knowing the steps to be followed to carry out the co-creation sessions, you may want to take a look at the following tips that will help you run the sessions smoothly.
- The ideal team is a diverse team.
The attendees to the sessions should come from different departments and roles inside the company in order to assure the multidisciplinary factor when it comes to ideation. For companies that have a strong diversity culture, this is a “natural” step, so to speak.
- The importance of choosing the right environment.
Establishing engagement with the team is crucial. For this, it is recommended to spare the time of all attendees with various days in advance. Also, choose a neutral space where participants don’t have “other work” distractions.
- Avoid team frustration.
Before starting the session, the facilitator must set and share the objectives for each exercise, as well as the available tools and time expected for each time block. At the end of the activity, participants should know the outcomes and next steps.
Lastly, I’d like to say that “co-creation sessions are like crème Brulé! They never go out of style”. Wondering why? The answer is simple. You don’t need to rack your brains to do it. Most of the time, you have the elements at hand. Just follow each step and the result will be a fine blend of flavors, or speaking in terms of innovation, “a fine blend of solutions”.
Now that you know the basics, you can always improve the recipe.