If there is one way of innovation that fits with sustainability it is co-creation. It involves clients and other parties, internal and external, in the process of innovation. By sharing experiences, mutual learning and other forms of interaction new services or products are designed that create value for both your company and clients (or other stakeholders). Co-creation taps the wisdom of the crowds.
It is a form of open innovation, as you let outsiders (co)decide on what your company offers. Open source software is maybe one of the most well known and successful forms of co-creation. Other examples are online tools to design your own sneakers or the involvement of lead buyers at Hilti when developing new products.
Concepts for co-creation include:
- co-creation platforms like CMNTY and Open IDEO, provide a set of tools to host co-creation sessions;
- crowdsourcing, think of Galaxy Zoo or Robinhood, where people (informally) work together on a project or a service;
- crowdfunding, where funding new companies or products gets rewarded, not only financially but also with goods or services. A well known example is sellaband;
- matching platforms like Procter & Gamble’s Connect & develop;
- ideas competitions, where everybody can submit his or her idea. The Fiat 500 was partially designed in this way. Another example is the Smart Rotterdam Challenge;
- innovation networks can be compared to crowdsourcing and are more formal. See spineconnect as an example.
Of course, you can also start on a more modest level and begin your own co-creation process via involving clients and other stakeholders through round tables, inspiration sessions and even client safaris.