Today, more than ever, customers from different organizations are able to engage in the development and use of “things” that companies have to sell or propose that may end up becoming co-creators.

We can say that co-creation with customers (collaborative creation) is open innovation with customers, but it is not the same freedom offered to customers as a revolution of thoughts, desires and needs or want.

There are limits! There are boundaries! There are directions!

Most often there is almost always a set of constraints and legal, environmental, economic or social barriers.

Co-creation is not a clear path for everyone and everything. Organizations and their leaders establish a strategic line and define the boundaries of performance and possible contours for successful interaction.

We can create value by employing creativity, knowledge, experience and skills of people (internal and external to the organization) but for that we have to respect certain rules and principles.

Venkat Ramaswamy and Francis Gouillart describe “The four principles of co-creation” that is a great starting point to a successful path in co-creation. They say:

1 – “Stakeholders won’t wholeheartedly participate in customer co-creation unless it produces value for them, too.

2 – The best way to co-create value is to focus on the experiences of all stakeholders.

3 – Stakeholders must be able to interact directly with one another.

4 – Companies should provide platforms that allow stakeholders to interact and share their experiences”.


Although these principles are a good starting point, because they are liberators, they don’t cease, however, to provoke some questions which I leave open:

How to motivate stakeholders to participate?

If employees feel threatened, how can we create value and avoid value destruction?

On the other hand we know that the sharing of experiences of all stakeholders promotes a deeper understanding of the issues and the interactions developed could enhance the experiences of all.

So how can we develop and maintain a desirable dynamic in interactions?

Co-creation is certainly a way that organizations must go but this also requires an agile processes and rapid learning cycles that the available platforms should allow.

The interactions that occur in co-creation with customers should also, in a agile and clear way, serve to correct deviations from the objectives and clarify the boundaries of performance.

So I like to think that some of the assumptions for moving ideas to services or successful products are:

The possibility of technical implementation of an idea (feasibility).

There is technology available to realize this idea?

The organization is prepared for execution?

The time required for its implementation fits the organization’s guidelines?

The economic viability.

Does the result fit the client’s budget?

Does the result fit the organization’s goals?

The return on investment is it satisfactory or good?

Your ability to express desire to users or consumers.

What is the impact on the lives of customers?

Does it meet the customer’s articulated needs?

It’s good to remember, by one hand, that the non-articulated needs, i.e., those that exist but that users or consumers failed to clearly display contains a message that needs help to translate into understandable language. The interactions, that are made possible by platforms, are based on a duality, the organization with its structure, its rules and resources, and customers, who are mutually influenced, often don’t clarify the real needs.

On the other hand, the “hidden needs” which are the types of “things” that people really want, but are unaware of or do not feel that need. These needs will manifest only in future plans and are often the result of a change in surroundings or in the evolutionary process of each person.

In conclusion, although it is tempting to be really creative, ignoring the restrictions, to be able to see the restrictions as liberators is to reach another level of wisdom and it is also motivating.

The ability to execute (feasibility), economic viability and the clear identification of desire of (need or want) of consumers or users, should not be considered steps of a process.

It is at the intersection of these constraints that we must seek a solution to a problem.

These constraints are the pillars of execution that simultaneously serve to filter all possible interactions in organizations that promote co-creation projects with their clients.

What do you think about this?


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