What is Co-Creation? The Ultimate Guide

What is Co-creation?

Co-creation is the act of involving both internal and external stakeholders in the ideation process in order to create value. It is the democratization of innovation that creates otherwise undiscovered ideas and solutions. By leveraging the power of collective intelligence, organizations receive benefits such as higher engagement and greater financial gains.

Picture an orchestra, with each musician playing their part to create a harmonious masterpiece. Co-creation is the business equivalent of this symphony, bringing together diverse external stakeholders in a collaborative ideation process.

By democratizing innovation, co-creation invites a chorus of voices and ideas to the table, enabling solutions that resonate with both businesses and their customers.



What is the need for Co-creation?

In the business world, the ability to innovate is essential for staying ahead of the competition. 

However, we often see a moat between decision-makers and innovators, hindering the flow of creative ideas and the development of groundbreaking solutions. This divide stems from the fact that decision-makers, who hold the keys to resources and strategic planning, may not possess all the insights necessary to recognize when innovation is needed or how to effectively harness the potential of new ideas.

Co-creation emerges as the bridge that connects decision-makers and innovators. This enables a collaborative environment where diverse perspectives and expertise can come together to drive innovation. 

By engaging external stakeholders in the ideation process, co-creation ensures that decision-makers have access to valuable insights from a variety of sources. 

This results in a more qualified basis for decision because the decision maker does not always possess the specific competency for every situation.

Here is an innovation quote by Maslow to symbolize the need:

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.“

Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970), Psychologist



8 Benefits of Co-creation


Enhanced innovation

Co-creation enables organizations to tap into a diverse pool of knowledge, ideas, and perspectives, resulting in an open innovation approach. This accelerates the innovation process and helps generate novel solutions that might not have been discovered through traditional methods. It can be a good idea to use cross-functional teams in order to get as many perspectives as possible when co-creating, thereby enhancing the innovation capacity further.


Better understanding of customer needs 

By involving customers and other stakeholders in the development process, organizations can gain deeper insights into their preferences, expectations, and pain points. This understanding can help businesses create products and services that better address the needs of their target audience.


Improved customer engagement and loyalty 

Co-creation fosters a sense of ownership and emotional investment among participants, which can translate into stronger customer relationships, increased loyalty, and higher levels of satisfaction.


Risk reduction 

By engaging various stakeholders in the co-creation process, organizations can identify potential challenges, risks, and barriers earlier in the development process. This early identification allows businesses to address potential issues more proactively, reducing the likelihood of costly failures.


Increased agility and adaptability 

Co-creation encourages organizations to be more flexible and responsive to changing customer needs and market conditions. By continuously involving stakeholders in the decision-making process, businesses can make adjustments and improvements more rapidly and efficiently.


Enhanced brand reputation 

Co-creation initiatives can help organizations showcase their commitment to transparency, inclusivity, and collaboration, which can positively impact their brand reputation and public perception.


Access to external expertise 

Co-creation allows organizations to tap into the knowledge and skills of external experts, partners, and contributors. This access to diverse expertise can help businesses identify and exploit new opportunities, while also fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement.


Cost savings

In some cases, co-creation can lead to cost savings by streamlining the innovation management process, reducing the need for extensive market research, and identifying potential issues before significant investments are made.



How do you co-create?

Because innovation is a continuous process, the act of co-creation can be viewed as a cycle of 6 steps that is constantly repeated in the organization.


1. Collect 

In this initial phase, ideas are gathered from as many participants as necessary. This stage is crucial for ensuring a diverse range of perspectives and fostering a sense of ownership among participants. By involving a broad audience, the organization can benefit from a rich array of ideas that drive innovation.

The more ideas that you can collect, the higher the probability of finding the optimal solution, and Vocean allows you to collect ideas from hundreds and thousands of participants.


2. Co-create 

This stage is where participants collaborate to create value together. Through activities such as liking, prioritizing, valuing ideas on a specific scale, and categorizing them, participants engage in a dynamic exchange of perspectives. They also contribute by refining and building on each other’s ideas, thereby enhancing the overall quality of the solutions generated.


3. Co-understand

With the results of the co-creation process in hand, participants must develop a shared understanding of the outcomes. The Vocean platform provides clear visuals to help track the decision-making process, ensuring that everyone involved understands how and why certain decisions were made.



4. AI-report and decision 

Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, an AI-generated report is created based on the solutions derived from the democratic participation of all contributors. This report serves as a foundation for decision-makers, allowing them to make informed choices while leveraging the collective intelligence of the participants.


5. Action

Once a decision has been made, it’s time to implement the chosen solution. During this stage, the organization translates the ideas generated through co-creation into concrete actions and initiatives.


6. Evaluate and renew 

Since innovation is a continuous process, it’s essential to assess the results of the implemented solution and use this evaluation as a basis for generating new ideas. By learning from the outcomes and iterating on the process, the organization can ensure ongoing improvement and adapt to the ever-changing needs of its stakeholders.

After completing the evaluation and renewal stage, the cycle begins anew with the collection of fresh ideas. By following this six-step co-creation process, organizations can effectively harness the collective intelligence of their ecosystem to drive innovation and become a thinking organization with a culture of continuous improvement.



Examples of Co-creation


1. The City of Gothenburg

In the end of 2021, Gothenburg, Sweden, played host to The World’s Largest Workshop in partnership with Vocean, focusing on crafting the most conducive environment for children and young people. An impressive 330 ideas were generated during this creative endeavor.

The residents of Gothenburg were urged to scan QR codes dispersed throughout the city, enabling them to access Vocean’s innovation platform, contribute their ideas, like three other ideas that they agreed with, and encourage their friends to participate in the process as well.

This collaborative effort ultimately led to the conception of the “Future Bus.” This innovative vehicle traversed the city, serving as a meeting space for young individuals to gather, seek homework assistance, or simply socialize in a nurturing atmosphere.


2. LEGO Ideas

LEGO Ideas is a prime example of how co-creation can lead to successful product innovations. In this platform, LEGO enthusiasts from all around the world can submit their unique designs for new LEGO sets. Other members of the community can then vote and provide feedback on these ideas. 

Once a concept reaches a certain threshold of support, it is reviewed by the LEGO team, and if approved, it becomes a part of the official LEGO product line. The creator of the idea is credited and rewarded with royalties from the sales. This approach allows LEGO to harness the creativity of their passionate fanbase while also strengthening customer loyalty and engagement.


3. Hofors Municipality

Hofors Municipality is using the digital platform Vocean to get ideas from citizens and improve decision-making. Vocean helps gather thoughts from employees and people living in the area, making it more open and welcoming. 

The platform uses an AI to translate everything the user types in, meaning that people who speak different languages can share their ideas with each other. It even lets users speak their ideas instead of writing. Hofors uses QR codes to make it easy for residents to give their opinions on different topics, like what to do with a community building or what kind of food they want in school. This way, politicians can think about more views and make better choices. Using Vocean shows that Hofors is a leader in trying new, people-focused ways to keep getting better and involve everyone in the community.


4. BMW Co-Creation Lab

The BMW Co-Creation Lab is an online platform that allows customers, fans, and employees to collaborate and share their ideas on the future of mobility and automotive design. Participants can submit their concepts, provide feedback, and vote on ideas submitted by others. 

BMW uses this input to gain insights into customer preferences and expectations, which helps the company make informed decisions about the development of new products and services. Some of the outcomes from this initiative include innovative concepts for car interiors, new technologies, and sustainable materials. By involving their customers in the design process, BMW not only benefits from their collective intelligence but also fosters a deeper connection with their brand.


5. Unilever’s Open Innovation Platform

Unilever, a leading consumer goods company, has embraced the concept of co-creation through its open innovation platform. This initiative invites innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers to collaborate with Unilever on developing sustainable solutions for various challenges faced by the company. By leveraging the expertise and creativity of the global innovation community, Unilever can accelerate the development of breakthrough products and technologies. The Open Innovation Platform has led to numerous successful collaborations, resulting in more sustainable packaging, resource-efficient manufacturing processes, and innovative products that meet the evolving needs of consumers.



Co-creation is a collaborative approach to innovation that fosters collaboration among various stakeholders in the ideation and problem-solving process. By engaging a wide range of individuals, including customers, partners, employees, and external experts, organizations can harness the collective intelligence of their ecosystem. This collaborative effort leads to more innovative, relevant, and effective solutions tailored to the needs of both businesses and their customers.

The co-creation process empowers organizations to be more agile, adaptable, and responsive to changing market conditions and customer demands. Involving stakeholders in decision-making ensures that the ideas generated are aligned with the target audience’s preferences, expectations, and pain points. Furthermore, co-creation helps to bridge the gap between decision-makers and innovators, creating a more inclusive and transparent environment.

Overall, co-creation is a valuable approach to innovation that promotes collaboration, diversity of thought, and shared ownership of the solutions, enabling organizations to stay ahead of the competition and deliver products and services that truly resonate with their customers.


Start co-creating with Vocean

Are you interested in co-creation and using the power of collective intelligence?

Co-creation can be difficult but by using a platform for innovation makes it easier. Vocean’s platform enables idea generation, collaboration and understanding among diverse stakeholders, meaning you can co-create efficiently.

Are you ready to start co-creating? Check out the use cases of Vocean or contact us here!

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