Co-Creation Rules!

asdfThere’s a quiet revolution overtaking large organisations that is changing how they innovate. This is mirroring what is happening to how we connect in our social lives and how the world is shrinking.  Social media networks enable us to connect with old friends and make new ones and also help us be more creative, sharing fresh content and ideas with each other and the wider world.

And so it is in businesses and NGOs. At 100%Open we are seeing the power of helping companies and charities to co-create with entrepreneurs, suppliers and customers. Cultural barriers are coming down and a more relaxed attitude to creating new value with ‘outsiders’ is appearing.   As Procter and Gamble have put it, organisations are transforming the ‘Not invented here syndrome’ to ‘Proudly found elsewhere’.

Can you provide a few examples of organisations that have used co-creation to dramatically change their approach to innovation?

LegoLEGO is a true pioneer in the space of co-creation with many famous successful examples already including LEGO Mindstorms, Design By Me, Cuusoo and LEGO Architecture.  Their new site develops this open culture one step further. They are asking for their fans and customers to come up with new ideas for LEGO sets, using the online platform to get 10,000 supporters for their idea. For LEGO this reduces the risk of launching a new product as they know it will be popular in advance.  There is a special business model here too – 1% of the total net sales of the product (including third-party intellectual property such as a game, TV show, or movies) goes to the inventor. It is no coincidence that the 2 highest selling new products ever were produced in this way. Co-creation is often done through an online platform like ICRC’s new site called the Jellybean Jar.

What are the main advantages that online ideation platforms provide?

Such platforms are an efficient way of briefing large numbers of potential partners and co-creating with them in real time.  They help organisations innovate better, faster and cheaper.


Companies like LEGO, Procter and Gamble and Orange realise that co-creation gets them more original ideas. As Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems says. “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else”.  When you’ve got the whole world to choose from why restrict yourself to you innovation department or your agencies?


Co-creation is often much faster than grow-your-own innovation too. It sidesteps internal systems and slow process and often finds new products and services that are closer to market.


Co-creation is a cost-effective way of developing innovations.  The underlying model is all about sharing the risks of innovation as well as the rewards.  So organisations get to share R&D and other costs with their innovation partners.

You’ve alluded to numerous examples from the private sector, are there similar experiences in the humanitarian field?

There are many examples of co-creation platforms being used in the humanitarian sector.  Here’s a current example of how USAID are mobilising the fight against the Ebola virus.  And as they say, “You don’t have to be an expert in healthcare or infectious disease to contribute your insights and ideas  in fact, some of the brightest solutions may be found in the most unthinkable corners.” 100%Open has worked with Oxfam looking at how to share experiences from the field and innovate their practices to the highest global standards – all mediated via an on-line innovation platform.

Ultimately Ideation platforms are but a tool, what other ingredients are necessary for successful innovation and co-creation to take place?

Such tools are only as good as how they are used.  Owners of platforms need to pay careful attention to three major factors in their design and deployment.

1.  Do they have ‘interesting questions’ that engage the outside world’s imagination?

2. Are they well facilitated so that new connections happen and participants feel involved?

3. Does the owner of the platform commit to actually doing something with the ideas and feedback?

If you’re interested in more do’s and don’ts, please check out the 100%Open’s Crowdsourcing platform free tool here. It would be good to see you online.

What are your initial impressions regarding ICRC’s new co-creation initiative?

What’s exciting about ICRCs new initiative is that it enables a healthy mixture of ICRC and local Red Cross staff, corporate partners and ultimately members of the beneficiary community to come together and innovate in true partnership.  What’s not to like? See you online!

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David Simoes-Brown (Co-Founder of 100%Open)  & Guy White  (Founder of Catalyx)