Cocreation: beyond collaboration

I’ve just touched down in Adelaide from my South-East Asian trip, including the Ci2i Global Lab.

Creativity is an essential ingredient in cocreation - photo and workshop by Carolina
(Co)creativity! Photo and workshop at Ci2i by Carolina. More photos on FB

There are too many ideas and amazing experiences to share, but I can offer a few thoughts before I launch myself back into it all.

In particular, there were some insightful discussions at Ci2i about the Great Big Question – what on earth is this ‘cocreation’ thing anyway?

I don’t bring back clear answers— but I can report strong agreement in thinking about cocreation.  This surprised me, given our diverse projects and backgrounds, from Ugandan community projects to the boardrooms of McDonalds.  You can see this common ground for yourself by looking through the session notes, exploring cocreation vs collaboration and the core values of cocreation.

Natalie and Christina

Natalie and Christina – photo by Carolina

I loved the way that Nathalie described cocreation.  She worked for decades in knowledge management, enabling collaboration in organisations.  She watched collaboration spread through management practice (and theory), taking the way we work up to a new level.  And she has the feeling that now, cocreation is the next level.  But it’s early – we are still trying to understand what that really looks like, and how it differs from the present.

That’s certainly not the only way to think about cocreation though.  At other times the discussion was not so much about methods as about philosophy.  We talked about things deeper and more fundamental, intricately interlinked, and much more global that I had realised.  This will be worth writing about when I get the chance to process thoughts.

Whatever way you look at it, there is definitely something ‘to’ cocreation.  It might not be a silver bullet, but it definitely has deep implications.  Ci2i has given strength to my conviction that it is worth the effort.

With such hosts, how could one's conviction not be strengthened?  Christina, Kathryn and Irma aren't in the shot

With such hosts —see event page— how could one’s conviction not be strengthened? Christina, Kathryn and Irma aren’t in the shot. Photo c/o Jean, on the right, but I have a feeling she didn’t take it herself… 

Which brings us to next steps!

As we wait to see what formal plans emerge for the Ci2i network, I am focused on articulation.  Even those who ‘get it’ use the word in different ways.  It’s harder still for those for whom cocreation is just one potential concept among many relevant to their work.  I don’t want to try to be definitive, but something useful is not too much to ask.  Right?

I need to do this for the sake of my own business and the people I work with, but if there’s interest I’d be pleased to facilitate collaboration on something that represents a broader articulation.  So I am waiting to see what people say. ; )

3 thoughts on “Cocreation: beyond collaboration

  1. lilian

    Wikipedia: “Co-creation is a form of marketing strategy or business strategy that emphasizes the generation and ongoing realization of mutual firm-customer value.”

    I always felt wikipedia’s definition was extremely narrow and I’m happy to see the definition you produced together. I really resonate with that.

    Time to hack Wikipedia 😉

    Looking forward to read more of your thoughts and reports from the Ci2i lab.

  2. lilian

    More thoughts after a good night of sleep:

    I enjoyed reading these docs. As you say, those using the word co-creation have different meaning for it but although I never met any of you, my definition would come pretty close.

    Indeed it’s very similar to the characteristics I identified in co-creative events:

    Maybe one extra ingredient I had listed is fun: co-creativity is playful which probably helps to have “space for failure” and “Creative, out-of-the box thinking”

    I enjoyed particularly these parts:

    “In co-creation : “create” is the most important word. It makes the difference with “working together”. We need to approach the world differently, a transformation process.”

    Co-creation is future-oriented, and a questions-based model. It’s a collective imaginative artistic process. It’s almost an “anti-space” : a real “let-going” space for emergent.”

    “Collaboration features : sense of present (time) and known (environment)
    Co-creation features : sense of future (time) and unknown (environment). It includes fear and uncomfort.. ”

    Emergence is a key value/concept ”

    This systems view of cooperation/collaboration is very important to me. I always thought this emerging process was key of my own approach to cooperation which I call “open cooperation”.

    That’s where I see the patterns as core building blocks/ingredient to design emerging systems. They don’t add up linearly but resonate with each other to produce something that is more than the sum of the parts.

    1. John Baxter Post author

      Indeed there is definite resonance in perspectives! I thought you may have actually written that after looking through the Ci2i documents… But after seeing the degree of congruence at Ci2i, I shouldn’t be surprised!

      Thanks for commenting on the ‘values’ document re ‘fun’. It’s a good place to get the thought for it to get seen by the right people.

      I definitely agree with the systems perspective… and while I tend to bring that perspective into the centre as something fundamental, I know many practitioners don’t have the same angle – so while some of the concepts like emergence were important, the systems angle nevertheless wasn’t emphasised too strongly.

      I’m not how I feel about cocreation without a systems-angle – at least at the level of developing the models, even if individual participants and practitioners don’t draw on it themselves. Do you have any thoughts?


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