The Power of Co - Creation: 5 Ways to Inspire Collaboration for Innovation

Innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum, and successful companies know that the best ideas often come from the people closest to the problem.

Co-creation is the process of harnessing the collective creativity of your team to develop new ideas and solutions. In this article, we explore the benefits of co-creation and provide practical tips for how to implement it in your organization. From setting up a cross-functional team to defining clear goals and objectives, we'll show you how to unlock the full potential of your team's creativity and innovation.

Co-creation is a powerful force that has driven innovation throughout history. While one person can achieve great things, it is only through collaboration that we can truly create marvels that stand the test of time. Just as the Pyramids and Stonehenge were not built by one person alone, the most successful and impactful innovations of today are often the result of teams working together to co-create.

To inspire co-creation in today's world, it is essential to understand the value of collaboration and the power of working together towards a common goal. Here are five ways to inspire co-creation today:

To keep it simple and common sense, we have deducted the entirety of HCD to its three most important questions:

But why is trend scouting so important, and how are companies leveraging it to stay competitive? Let's dive in.

1. Encourage diversity

Co-creation works best when you bring together people with different backgrounds and expertise. In its essence, co-creation is all about creating a safe and fun environment for the team to collaborate in, providing room for extra creativity and outputs. This means that before we even start our shift towards a more collaborative organization, we need to accept the fact that we need to change first, in order to create in new ways.

Since here in Lusidea, we strongly believe all starts and ends with humans, here are our five best practice examples of how businesses can encourage diversity to boost co-creation of innovation:

  • Inclusive hiring practices: One of the best ways to encourage diversity is to ensure that the organization has inclusive hiring practices. This can include targeted outreach to underrepresented groups, using blind hiring techniques to reduce bias, and setting diversity targets for recruitment. Remember, different people bring different ideas and solutions.
  • Diversity training: Organizations can provide diversity training to their employees to promote understanding and awareness of different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. This can help to create a culture of inclusion and respect, which can in turn foster co-creation of innovation. Also, if we do not educate ourselves, how can we know?
  • Cross-functional teams: Creating cross-functional teams with members from different departments or areas of expertise can also promote diversity and co-creation. By bringing together individuals with different skills and knowledge, organizations can encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Mix people in your teams according to the project goals, and you will create a more inclusive and fun environment to work in.
  • Collaboration with external partners: Partnering with external organizations, including startups, universities, or other companies, can also bring diversity into the innovation process. These partners may have different perspectives, approaches, and expertise that can help to drive innovation and co-creation. People connected to the external partners can then become an integral part of your collaboration plans and activities as a great factor of diversification, also serving as a pool for testing your ideas in development.
  • Employee resource groups: Employee resource groups, or ERGs, can provide a supportive community for employees from underrepresented groups. These groups can also serve as a valuable resource for the organization by providing insights and perspectives that may not be represented in the larger team. For example, a company may have an ERG for employees who identify as LGBTQ+. This group may organize events such as workshops, guest speakers, and social gatherings to promote understanding and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.

Encouraging diversity is a key factor in boosting co-creation of innovation. When individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together, they can bring a wealth of ideas and approaches that may not have been possible with a homogeneous team.

2. Foster a culture of openness

Fostering a culture of openness is essential for inspiring co-creation for innovation and including as many teams as possible in collaboration. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Encourage communication: Communication is key to fostering openness in the workplace. Encourage teams to communicate frequently and openly with each other, whether through regular team meetings, informal check-ins, or online collaboration tools. This can help to build trust and encourage the exchange of ideas, especially if you reward great communication efficiently.
  • Embrace diverse perspectives: Embrace diverse perspectives by bringing together individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets. Encourage teams to seek out and consider input from others who may have different perspectives or approaches to problem-solving. Let them have a “research day” before they start working on a project, so that they can have time to explore and build their own perspectives. This can help to spark new ideas and innovative solutions.
  • Celebrate failure: Failure is an inevitable part of the innovation process, and it's important to create a culture that embraces it. Encourage teams to take risks and experiment with new ideas, even if they may not always be successful. Celebrate failures as learning opportunities and use them to inform future innovation efforts. The goal of failing early is missing all the mistakes to be made later, driving us towards higher quality outcomes.

By following these best practices, organizations can foster a culture of openness that inspires co-creation for innovation and includes as many teams as possible in collaboration. Here are three best practice examples:

  • Google's "20% time": Google famously encourages employees to spend 20% of their time working on projects that interest them, even if those projects aren't directly related to their job responsibilities. This practice encourages employees to explore new ideas and collaborate with others in the organization.
  • GE's FastWorks program: GE's FastWorks program is a methodology for innovation that encourages cross-functional collaboration and embraces failure. The program has helped GE to speed up innovation efforts and bring new products to market more quickly.
  • IBM's Innovation Jams: IBM's Innovation Jams are online brainstorming sessions that bring together employees from around the world to collaborate on new ideas. The Jams are open to all employees, regardless of role or location, and have generated hundreds of innovative ideas over the years.

In short, if you want someone to give you something, the shortest way to it is to give them something first, right? This is why it is critical to give more liberty, time and space to your employees, before asking them to change or improve more.

3. Provide the right tools

Have you ever seen a blacksmith forging a sword using just his or her hands? Ever made phone calls without using any devices? Or started a fire with just a bunch of ice cubes? Neither did we, as we believe that trying to achieve different results using the same tools and methodologies stands only as a definition of insanity.

Providing the right tools is crucial to inspire co-creation for innovation and include as many teams as possible in collaboration. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Invest in collaboration software: Collaboration software can help teams to work together more effectively, regardless of their physical location. Tools like video conferencing, shared project management platforms, and chat apps can help to facilitate communication and collaboration between team members. This can help to overcome barriers to collaboration caused by geography or time differences.
  • Provide access to data and analytics: Providing access to data and analytics can help teams to make informed decisions and drive innovation. Tools like data visualization software, customer feedback platforms, and business intelligence tools can provide teams with valuable insights that can inform the innovation process.
  • Create a shared workspace: Creating a shared workspace can help to encourage collaboration and innovation. This can be a physical space where teams can work together, or a virtual space like an online forum or collaboration platform. Providing a shared workspace can help to facilitate communication, build trust, and encourage the exchange of ideas.

By following these best practices, organizations can provide the right tools to inspire co-creation for innovation and include as many teams as possible in collaboration. Here are three best practice examples:

  • Miro: Miro is a collaborative whiteboarding platform that enables teams to work together visually. It offers a range of tools for brainstorming, diagramming, and organizing ideas, which can help to facilitate collaboration and innovation.
  • Slack: Slack is a communication and collaboration platform that provides teams with a centralized hub for messaging, file sharing, and project management. It can help to streamline communication and facilitate collaboration across different teams and departments.
  • Ideanote: Ideanote is an idea management platform that enables teams to capture and collaborate on ideas. It offers a range of tools for ideation, prioritization, and feedback, which can help to drive innovation and foster collaboration across teams.

Co-creation requires the right tools to facilitate collaboration. Ensure that your team has access to the right technology, communication platforms, and project management tools to enable seamless collaboration.

4. Set clear goals and objectives

Setting clear goals and objectives is essential to inspire co-creation for innovation and include as many teams as possible in collaboration. We advise you to start setting goals and objectives of your long-term strategy only after investing in the first three steps. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Define specific, measurable goals: Goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable within a given timeframe. Teams should have a clear understanding of what they are working towards and how their progress will be measured. This can help to align efforts towards a common purpose and ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives.
  • Involve all stakeholders in goal setting: Goals should be set in collaboration with all stakeholders, including team members, managers, and customers. This can help to ensure that everyone has a stake in the success of the project and is committed to working towards the same objectives.
  • Communicate goals and progress regularly: Regular communication is key to keeping teams motivated and engaged. Managers should communicate goals and progress regularly to keep everyone aligned and engaged in the project.

By following these best practices, organizations can set clear goals and objectives to inspire co-creation for innovation and include as many teams as possible in collaboration. Here are three best practice examples:

  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs): OKRs is a goal-setting framework that helps teams to define specific, measurable goals and track progress towards them. It is used by companies like Google, LinkedIn, and Airbnb to set and communicate goals across teams.
  • Agile project management: Agile project management is a methodology that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and iterative development. It enables teams to work together in short cycles, with regular check-ins and reviews to ensure that progress is aligned with goals. Adding Trend Scouting to your agile cycles will enable you to stay ahead of the curve of market trends.
  • Design thinking workshops: Design thinking workshops are collaborative sessions that bring together cross-functional teams to solve complex problems. They encourage creativity, ideation, and collaboration, and can help to align teams towards a common goal.

Co-creation requires the right tools to facilitate collaboration. Ensure that your team has access to the right technology, communication platforms, and project management tools to enable seamless collaboration. In short, if you want warriors, you will need some new swords, but also armors and shields, for their specific purposes.

5. Celebrate successes and learn from failures

Celebrating successes and learning from failures is the ultimate way to inspire co-creation for innovation and include as many teams as possible in collaboration. It is most often forgotten or misused in practice, so here are some best practices for doing it better:

  • Create a culture of celebration: Celebrating successes can help to build morale, boost motivation, and reinforce the importance of collaboration. Managers should recognize and reward achievements and encourage team members to do the same. Company can organize events like Innovation fairs and Spin-off Incubators to spark celebrations even more.
  • Foster a culture of learning: Learning from failures is essential to improving processes, refining strategies, and fostering innovation. Managers should encourage team members to experiment, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. Empower your employees to learn by dedicating an education budget and letting them pick their own fields of study.
  • Conduct regular debriefs: Debriefs are reviews that take place after a project or initiative has ended. They provide an opportunity to assess what worked well, what didn't, and what can be improved in the future. Managers should conduct regular debriefs and involve all stakeholders in the process. If you use a fun collaboration tool like Miro, Slack or Ideanote, it will facilitate your debrief.

By following these best practices, organizations can celebrate successes and learn from failures to inspire co-creation for innovation and include as many teams as possible in collaboration. Here are three best practice examples:

  • Innovation awards: Innovation awards recognize and celebrate successful collaboration efforts. They can be used to reinforce the importance of collaboration and motivate teams to work together towards a common goal. Awards can be categorized aligned with the objectives and results from the prior step to scale your innovation according to the plan.
  • "Failure Wall": Set up a designated "Failure Wall" where teams can post notes detailing their failed attempts, along with what they learned from them. This serves as a reminder that failure is a natural part of the innovation process and encourages risk-taking and experimentation. Additionally, seeing the failures of others can help teams feel more comfortable sharing their own. Ultimately, you can even reward the best fails to inspire more creativity.
  • Success story campaigns: Create a campaign to celebrate successes and share the stories of teams or individuals who contributed to the achievement. This can be done through videos, blog posts, or social media. By highlighting the people and processes behind the success, you can inspire and motivate others to collaborate and innovate.

In conclusion, the best way to inspire co-creation for innovation in your organization is to invest in your people, embrace new and different perspectives, utilize best practice tools, implement an all-inclusive co-created innovation strategy, and celebrate successes and failures. By investing in your existing, empowered people, you can leverage the talent and expertise within your organization to drive innovation. Additionally, seeking out new and different perspectives from partners and consultants can provide fresh ideas and insights. Providing best practice tools can enable effective collaboration and communication, while an all-inclusive co-created innovation strategy can ensure that all stakeholders are involved and invested in the process.

Finally, celebrating both successes and failures is a crucial part of fostering a culture of innovation. Remember, humans are humans, and we all love a good party from time to time! So, take the time to recognize and celebrate the hard work and achievements of your team, while also learning from failures and using them as opportunities to grow and improve. By investing in these five key areas, you can create a culture of openness, collaboration, and innovation that will drive your organization's success now and in the future.