I agree with Tim Davies overall comments where he notes that the process assumes one particular model of engagement, which may not be appropriate for all contexts. And where Tim also makes note of the unexplored IAP2 spectrum, which misses opportunities to describe multiple ways to different levels of co-creation.
There are other emerging models of engagement that come from a creative problem-solving or design orientation. For example, the IBM Center for the Business of Government has a report on Engaging Citizens in the Co-Creation of Public Services, which discusses the phases of co-design, co-produce, co-deliver. This is more nuanced and offers more opportunities for meaningful inclusion.
In the City of Austin, we’ve been using a model of co-creation that combines design with creative problem-solving. You can see this model in the Appendix on page 20 of our Action Plan. Our process starts with problem-finding or problem-framing, then proceeds to idea or solution framing, and then to solution implementation. In this we we alternate between learning and creating — together with civil society.
From the perspective of the Danish MindLab, Christian Bason discusses a co-created design approach to public sector innovation. The social impact firm Reboot offers yet another co-creation method, as described in their Users Manual for Open Government Programs
When you restrict the only acceptable maturity model to the stages of “inform, consult, involve, collaborate,” you miss opportunities for a) active and genuine asking/listening and b) for the demonstrated inclusion of what was learned into what is being created. These phases miss explicit feedback loops. When you involve design-oriented methods, you incorporate feedback loops at every stage of the process. It is difficult to describe a design-oriented method when restricted to these IAP2 stages of engagement.
In the creation of the City of Austin Action Plan, we let the community frame the problem that our Action Plan would attempt to solve. We did not begin our Action Planning process with large multi-stakeholder involvement, because the previous year had plenty of this type of engagement, and we regularly heard “less talk! more action!” So we found pain points that if solved, would apply to a broad group of the community, and then we found projects that would be likely to solve the pain point. And during the projects, we will continue to engage clarify and frame the root problem to be solved, adaptively iterating and testing along the way.