Co-design: A Powerful Force for Creativity and Collaboration

We can all agree that creativity and collaboration are good things, but not everyone is in agreement on what they look like in practice or the best way to support them.

In a world of increasingly complex problems, collaboration is king. The impetus to work together to create innovative ideas in areas such as healthcare, education and governance is more pressing, and exciting, than ever. These problems require multiple stakeholders (internal and external) to come together and actively create, in order to improve the systems and services.

Collaboration is more than just tapping into the individual knowledge that internal and external stakeholders possess. It is about discovering their unique, and collective perspectives on the systems in which they live, which makes it vital to create together.

Let’s start by talking about some key definitions:



Many human-centered design firms design for people. At Stratos, we put a major emphasis on designing with people. There’s a fairly big difference in terms of approach. As much as possible, co-design practitioners should bring the people that the outcomes will serve into the design development process. But what does this actually look like in practice?

Why Co-design?

What Value Does Co-design Bring?

• For a multinational financial services company, business leaders, the innovation team,UX teams and consumers were brought together to create the ideal experience for a new insurance rating model.

• In today’s rapidly changing media environment, a media outlet engaged Stratos to help break down company silos that hindered production time and effectiveness. This was made possible using co-creation techniques to facilitate collaboration around their future working practices.

• A national industrial product brand minimized risk by co-designing customer engagement ideas, with a new market segment, before investing large amounts of money.

• For a garden products manufacturer, the time needed to develop a mobile engagement solution (app) was significantly reduced by adapting a co-design approach. Researchers, designers, consumers and business sponsors were brought together for a rapid three day test and redesign cycle.

How is Co-design Facilitated?

Where does Co-design Fit in the Design Development Process?

Who Should be Involved?

If we are to take a co-design approach to this challenge, we need to bring the different people and organizations together to get a full picture of the opportunity landscape and to co-create new solutions. For example, this group of participants might include: type 1 diabetics, their personal circle of care (parents, siblings, friends), healthcare practitioners (endocrinologists, nurse practitioners, diabetes educators), schools (teachers, school nurses, bus drivers), and payers and pharmaceutical companies (to name a few). Ultimately, the scope or scale of the project will determine how many stakeholders are represented as well as where in the process they will contribute.


Co-authored by Monica Weiler, Ph.D., Anthony Weiler, & David McKenzie, MFA.

Have you used co-design methods, before? If so, we would love to hear about your experience and any thoughts you would like to add. Feel free to drop us a line at or @TheStratosGroup on Twitter to learn more about co-design. As always, you can find more on our website (

Design Research & Service Design; Columbus, OH. Our focus on human/outcome-driven design is propelled by co-creation research methods.

Design Research & Service Design; Columbus, OH. Our focus on human/outcome-driven design is propelled by co-creation research methods.