Co-creation Examples to Inspire Product Innovation

Product managers are often tasked with driving innovation within their organizations. Could co-creation be a source of inspiration to find your next “big thing?”

Co-creation invites people to shape their own product experiences

Co-creation is becoming increasingly common in product management, with organizations inviting external stakeholders to help increase their efforts toward innovation. It’s the process of including outsiders in the ideation and development process of a new product or service. But would a co-creative approach work if your need for open innovation is connected to improving an existing product?

It’s possible to drive product innovation through co-creation. In fact, as a product manager, you’re probably already practicing some co-creation techniques in your everyday work. Before we dive into some co-creation examples, let’s review the basics.

What is the meaning of co-creation?

Co-creation is a value-based, context-driven, and collaborative effort to develop new ideas, products, or services that will satisfy your customer's wants. In other words, co-creation happens when two or more people bring their expertise, needs, or experiences together to solve problems and create new things.

What are the benefits of a co-creation approach?

Since co-creation is a naturally collaborative process, the first major benefit is building a solid relationship between producers and consumers. It explores the various ways a product creates value and makes customers more aware of the product benefits than what is predicted by an organization. Here are some of the other advantages:

🌤️ Uncovers new perspectives - Every individual brings a different perspective to a problem. Co-creation gives more insight into finding the right solution for a product question. Ducan Wardle, the former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, endorsed using naïve expertin the innovation process, reasoning that “our own expertise is our biggest barrier to innovation.” Fresh viewpoints lead to even better products.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Cultivates community - Co-creation isn’t a destination, it’s a collaborative journey. Meaning that keeping stakeholders engaged, even after the initial challenge is resolved, is an important part of gaining customer trust and loyalty. When you build community around your product, you’ll find success in future challenges.

🤗 Enhances customer experiences - Producing a product that is tailored to your target group ensures customer satisfaction and a positive customer experience. A co-creative community allows your customers to feel heard by being involved in the process. They can see how their feedback and ideas are implemented and fully understand the “why” behind your product.

What does co-creation entail?

As a highly interactive agile approach, co-creation requires communication, knowledge sharing, mutual respect, and collaboration.

Communication -  Co-creation happens in interactive environments where communication aids creative problem-solving. To ensure communication, consider your leadership strategies: Do you foster two-way discussions? Are you giving the right type of feedback? Do you schedule check-ins and team events?

Knowledge sharing - To best understand customer needs, it’s important to exchange critical information across involved parties. For the most successful co-creation, people should be encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise instead of keeping it distributed across silos.

Mutual respect - A company culture that supports mutual respect, empowerment, and trust is necessary to foster an environment of innovation. Everyone has value for who they are and what they bring to the discussion, so respecting people’s unique contributions is integral to co-creation practices.

Platform for collaboration - Communicating, sharing knowledge, and driving innovation are difficult to do when resources are scattered throughout different applications. Having a central hub where you can combine all these elements and still productively collaborate is key to co-creation. Collato is the place for product managers and teams to do just that!

Got 99 problems, but collaboration ain’t one

Connect with stakeholders on Collato so you can co-create epic products.

Three co-creation examples

Now that you got the basics covered, let's look at three different examples of co-creation.

Example 1: Lego uses customer input

Lego’s “Idea” platform is the most famous example of co-creation. Ideas call for customers to post their own design ideas for new playsets. The designs that receive over 10,000 votes are considered for production. Additionally, the winner receives 1% of net sales on the kit, giving people a monetary incentive to participate.

By involving customers in the innovation process, Lego noticed multiple advantages. First, the product team saw what kinds of playsets customers would like to see, which led to a plethora of creative ideas to circle back to in future product designs. Additionally, co-creation developed value for customers who submitted or voted on a product design because they were a part of the decision-making process.

Example 2: Nespresso uses competitors

Nespresso worked with external stakeholders to discover that waste was a growing concern for their customers. In response, the company conducted a benchmark study on its product development waste compared to its competitors. They adjusted their processes accordingly and launched a campaign around sustainability. The plan was successful because Nespresso gained a loyal and expanded customer base and is seen as the trailblazer for environmentally friendly coffee pods.

Example 3: Xiaomi uses community

The Chinese tech company Xiaomi embraced co-creation from a community standpoint. They created a forum called MIUI, which has over 10 million registered users and more than 100,000 daily publications. Xiaomi fans convene to share knowledge, discuss technology, and voice their opinions about certain gadgets. Over 200 Xiaomi employees monitor the forum, looking for feedback and product improvements. In addition to an inside perspective on its customer base, Xiaomi benefits from the forum by creating a loyal following in the community.

You don’t have to be a major corporation to practice co-creative techniques. There are smaller ways to welcome co-creation to your team:

  • Feedback sessions
  • Partner events with other organizations
  • Inclusive messaging
  • Relationship-based business

Whether you're a big company or a small team, there are many different approaches to co-creation. You just have to find out which way works best for you.

Way to go, team!

Co-creation is a helpful methodology to drive innovation, especially for product managers. While it may seem that adding stakeholders to a project adds an additional layer of complexity to work, if you equip yourself with the right communication practices, knowledge-sharing techniques, leadership skills, and collaboration platform, you’re sure to see value in the approach.

More about co-creation

FAQ

What is the difference between co-creation and crowdsourcing?
While co-creation and crowdsourcing are powerful product strategies (and are sometimes both considered a “type” of creation), the main difference is in practice. Co-creation takes more time and resources and usually requires buy-in from internal creative teams. Crowdsourcing is a collaboration between brands and consumers on a larger scale.
Can you co-create outside of product development?
Yes, co-creation has been applied to design and marketing teams, and is also used by consultants and even professors in management studies.
Where can you find more resources on co-creation and collaboration
Co-creation is a methodology rooted in managerial and business sciences. Here are some additional resources used in this blog: Co-Creation and Learning: Concepts and Cases by K.B. Akhilesh and Building the Co-Creative Enterprise by Venkat Ramawamy
Content Writer
From California, Lillie is passionate about personal development and the Future of Work. She enjoys writing about New Work concepts, leadership solutions, and productivity hacks, all with a sprinkle of quirky humor.
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