Co-creation is a core aspect of the service design philosophy. It can involve anyone from staff, designers, executives or customers working collaboratively in order to examine and innovate a given service experience.
Why is it used?
In one sense, co-creative exercises are a way to incorporate an open source development philosophy. This does not mean, however, that the design of a service becomes a “group decision”, as the ideas and solutions proposed will always be iteratively filtered so that only the strongest, most resonant themes are developed into new prototypes and innovations. The co-creation session aims to explore potential directions and gathers a wide range of perspectives in the process. The results of the session will then be used as inspiration for the core design team, who need to develop and refine it further in the next stages of the design process. An additional benefit of co-creation is that it facilitates future collaboration, as it brings groups together and thus creates a feeling of shared ownership over the concepts and innovations that are being developed.
When is it helpful?
Brand experience is enhanced by co-creation. Research participants noted that co-creation with consumers leads to better experiences, in turn leading to greater customer satisfaction, more referrals and word-of-mouth, new customer acquisition and repeat business.
How is it applied?
Co-creation is a principle that can be used in conjunction with many other tools in the service design toolset. Almost all of the methods in this toolbox can be adapted for use in a co-creative setting, and many of them are designed for precisely this kind of collaboration. Incorporating co-creation into an exercise successfully, however, still requires service designers to address a number of issues when planning the session. Various initial barriers to participation — fear of saying the wrong thing, reluctance to disagree with a superior, unfamiliarity with co-creation principles — must be overcome, whilst the designer will often have to moderate the session in order to ensure that it generates the type of results that can be incorporated in the next stage of the process. This moderation can be achieved at least in part by structuring a co-creation session effectively. The focus here should be on producing materials that can set the boundaries for a discussion, without constraining the possible responses of the participants. Knowing when to ask a generalised question in order to open up a discussion, and when to press a specific point in order to bring the focus back to the service under review, is essential in ensuring that co-creation sessions run smoothly.
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