The Fountain Institute

Co-creation is an approach...not a method

published6 months ago
2 min read

Dear Reader,

When I started hearing about co-creation in design, I mostly heard about co-creation sessions or workshops...which got me really excited.

It was an idea that I had already researched and used in museum education, working with the local community to understand how we could create experiences that benefited both the community and museum.

But co-creation is not a one-size-fits-all method. It won't work in every situation.

Co-creation is a way of thinking, a process, and a system tailored to the needs of the specific project at hand.

What is Co-creation?

Co-creation, in the context of a business, refers to a product or service design process in which input from consumers plays a central role from beginning to end. -Wikipedia

Co-creation is not just workshops.

Although workshops are critical to the approach, co-creation is a whole mindset shift. Collaborating with users and working with them from ideation to development is a new way that teams can approach the design process.

When to use co-creation?

Designers can use co-creation at any time in the design process (surprise: you're already doing it). Here are four opportunities for co-creation:

Research - interviews, ethnographic research, personas, and web analytics (it's standard for UX designers to interact with users in this stage)

Ideation - sharing your initial idea with users during brainstorming, problem framing, and synthesis

Creation - prototyping solution ideas through creative, knowledge-sharing, and constructive activities

Handover - sharing the solution with users, user feedback, and usability testing

How to facilitate co-creation

Because co-creation is a process that involves meaning-making, negotiation, and consensus from small groups, it's crucial to have strong facilitation skills.

A good facilitator is neutral. They are not there to make decisions for the group. They help the group members to make decisions for themselves. You, as a designer, need to guide participants from planning to implementation.

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The Workshop

A workshop is a powerful tool in co-creation, particularly in the ideation and creation stages. It’s all about getting the creative juices flowing. You need to create a safe environment for participants (this is where your facilitation skill really can shine). Workshops are fun and exciting but also super impactful.

Co-creation workshops are a time for you to be creative with the activities. So go outside your comfort zone. Try something you have never done before.

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these toolboxes

Until next time, get creative with your users!

Hannah Baker
Educator & Co-Founder
The Fountain Institute

P.S. We just announced the dates for more courses in 2022:

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