What is Co-creation? A definition, some background and how it’s done

We define co-creation as the collaborative development of new value (concepts, solutions, products and services) together with experts and/or stakeholders (such as customers, suppliers etc.). Co-creation is a form of collaborative innovation: ideas are shared and improved together, rather than kept to oneself. It is closely connected to – and mentioned alongside – two other buzz-words: ‘open source’  and ‘mass-customisation’.

Some background on co-creation

Over the past decade or so an enormous amount of knowledge has become accessible, changing traditional business processes and the way companies innovate. Also, educated consumers have become more involved with the products they buy. On top of that, the ‘1% Rule’ is now emerging: it is found that 1% of people in any community generate the majority of the creative output in that group. Many co-creation initiatives have been launched to deal with this changing world and some have been successful for some time. For most companies though, it still is a pretty new topic to deal with.

Opening up and co-creating can be scary: most companies hesitate to share ideas and strategies with people that are not on their payroll. Quite a natural reaction, but in the end it’s the results that count: new products, new profit pools, new ways of thinking, new energy benefit from sharing perspectives and collaborating.

Unfortunately though, co-creation is not a silver bullet. There is simply no such thing as a fail proof innovation process: there’s no guarantee that ideas will succeed. Chances are very small you’ll get a 1 Billion Dollar Idea in one day (a start perhaps…). What you will always get out of it though, are great meetings of minds, fresh perspectives on business and inspiring ideas that will guide you in the right direction.

So why not:

  • Tackle your toughest strategic challenges

  • Get a fresh perspective on your business

  • Get in touch with key trends and business drivers

  • Unlock the world outside and bring it inside

  • Cross-pollinate with other industries

  • Connect and bond with partners, customers, consumers

  • Identify good stuff out there

  • Develop breakthrough new ideas

  • Reduce risks; test products while developing them

  • Bring excitement to the floor

  • Work with the 1% most creative people

Collaborate or Die (2022)

Fronteer's Founders Martijn Pater and James Veenhoff collected fifteen years of co-creation experience in their book Collaborate or Die: The Changemaker's Handbook for Co-Creation.

Fronteer Whitepaper #1 (2016)

Co-creation’s 5 guiding principles or what is co-creation made up of?

There are many ways to go about co-creation, and which to choose depends on the challenge and objectives at hand. Read more about the ‘4 types of co-creation’ and the ‘5 guiding principles in doing co-creation right in our Whitepaper #1.

Fronteer Whitepaper #2 (2016)

9 Ways to get your team ready for co-creation

There are 9 ways to overcome the barriers within your organisation and energise teams to take up the challenge. Read all about it in our Whitepaper #2.