Co-creation is today’s most accepted model for innovation
Innovation has been around since the early days of civilization, and the processes have evolved from lone crusaders – Edison comes to mind – to the independent teams holed up in the back rooms of medium- and large-scaled organizations, such as early adopters like Ford. And lately, having customers actively participate in coming up with new ideas. Indeed, innovation approaches have changed and taken on many different forms very rapidly over the past 150 years.
The latest approaches have evolved into what we call “innovation co-creation (ICC),” where all the relevant stakeholders are participating across the value chain. And this approach is not just about a one-sided contribution model — as in “give me your ideas and then we will figure out what to do with them” — but a more collaborative engagement, with greater interaction and intensity of participation among creators, from generation, selection, incubation, and eventually, even to marketing the new product or service.
The evolution of these approaches is driven and, in turn, is impacted by several factors. One of them is the increase in the number of collaborators and the numerous interactions among them, across each stage of development. The numbers and interactions have grown from one innovator with a small team, to multiple large (few tens of members) teams within an organization, to larger (several hundred members) external participants, particularly customers, and so on. Today, we see a greater diversity of individuals, functions across organizations and stakeholders (companies, academia, government, NGO’s, etc.) across the ecosystem getting involved. And finally all of these newer interactions are occurring at the boundary intersections of individuals and organizations.
This evolving model needs several new ways of managing the creative chain. There are several unanswered questions. We will need to figure out how to keep the large and diverse set of participants engaged, how to share the risks and value of innovation, how to manage complexity of this system without laying out too many constraints, and how to manage flow of information and activity across the boundaries where the degree of trust is yet to be established.
Do you have answers to these questions? Would love to hear your view on this.