Designing cocreation

Guiding collaboration

Cocreated products, services and experiences are everywhere.
Your photos on facebook make it more interesting to your friends. Amazing videos you`ve watched on YouTube were produced by people like you and me. Johnny Cash is probably proud [check this link later]. Kiva enabled more than $ 700 million in loans. Lego let kids [and adults] be creative building their own customized toys and the recent successful coloring books for adults let people give birth to their joyful art pieces.

Cocreation is powerful.
Meaningful customization, engagement and diversity are few of its great benefits.

But wait, think again…
Adults don`t usually draw just to color their own drawings. I can honestly say that if I had to craft my own “lego” blocks to play with when I was a kid I surely would not have done it. Regular people usually do not borrow money to entrepreneurs. Many people were not used to publicly share videos and photos before the huge success of services like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and more.

Each organization behind the mentioned products and services made its best to attract people.
All of them created platforms upon which customers and stakeholders can develop unique outcomes.

When designing this kind of platform/product/service, organizations must define:

First, space of action: this is all about what customers and stakeholders can do.
E.g. post video [YouTube], share knowledge [Wikipedia] and build machines [Arduino hardware and software].
There will be technical constraints [e.g. video length and format] defined by the organization and a sea of possibilities to be explored [e.g.interactive storytelling through video and theYouTube Symphony Orchestra]

Secondly, behavior limiters: what customers and stakeholders cannot do.
E.g. sharing offensive or illegal content.
Algorithms/methods will be placed to track and avoid what the organization believes to be inappropriate. Customers and stakeholders will push these limits technically [e.g. posting GIFs on Facebook before its permission] and conceptually [e.g. blocked period photos on instagram].

Finally, what is commonly overlooked, the set of phases and environments: how the cocreated experience is provided; in other words, what the platform/product/service offers and what is customers and stakeholders` role.
E.g. Lego gives us nice building blocks, coloring books draw for us, AirBnb had a huge positive impact when it started to offer free professional photography services to its hosts.

In the words of Joe Gebbia [AirBnb`s cofounder and chief product officer] “The photos were really bad. […] People were using camera phones and taking Craigslist-quality pictures. Surprise! No one was booking because you couldn’t see what you were paying for.” “A web startup would say, ‘Let`s send emails, teach [users] professional photography, and test them” explains Brian Chesky [AirBnb`s cofounder and CEO]. “We said, ‘Screw that.’”. The pair rented a $5,000 camera and snapped high-resolution photos of as many New York host apartments as they could. Bookings soared. By month’s end, revenue had doubled in the city. “Rinse and repeat,” Gebbia says. “When we fixed the product in New York, it solved our problems in Paris, London, Vancouver, and Miami.” [adapted from Fast Company].

Focused on the two previous aspects [space of action and behavior limiters], organizations tend to be careless when designing this one.
It is essential to mention that an organizational may absorb phases which were originally meant to customers and stakeholders. Or the opposite.
What these organizations do is to take out the “bad” part. They help us on phases that would require skills and time that we are not keen or able to invest.

By giving the possibility of engaging ourselves on self-expression and creation, of customizing and being active cocreators of something, this type of platform/product/service becomes meaningful. Thus, we build stronger relationships with them compared to the standardized ‘just to consume’ ones.

If you do not involve customers and stakeholders on building cocreated experiences, you strongly should consider it.

If you do, try to improve your cocreation design on these three aspects
1. Space of action
2. Behavior limiters
3. Phases and environments


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I work with organizations to make innovation happen.
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