How can we make co-creation in community less exhausting?
I don’t know about you, but I find co-design of community awesome and often absolutely exhausting. It’s crucial that we — as a community — come into conversation and shape the group together. But there is a balance to be found. Often these processes can go on forever. They suck up all the energy out of the room. In an effort to be inclusive, we keep circling and circling about the same issues. And at the end we end up exhausted, often with a result nobody is too excited about and we’re just glad the process is over. It feels like we are draining the enthusiasm of some key members and I’m not sure if this is a smart trade-off in the long run.
Here is what I’m learning about making the process more energizing:
We shouldn’t assume that everyone wants to or should co-create.
There is usually a small sub-group of people who actually enjoys co-creating a group’s strategy or experience. Most people don’t really care and are way more excited to just be the community, enjoy the community, engage in the community, not talk about it in theory.
With a clear invitation we set expectations what it means to be part of the co-creation process.
The wise Adria Goodson recently spoke about her experience co-designing part of the Ford Global Fellowship and she reminded us that the process needs to be time-bound. People are busy. They need to know what their time investment will be. These processes should be quick sprints rather than long-winded marathons. The invitation should also clarify what commitment is asked to be part of co-creating: how many sessions, how many hours, any work between the sessions?
Co-creation still needs leadership.
Actually, it needs a lot of leadership. Who will facilitate the process? Who will take the ambiguous pieces after each co-creation session and try to integrate them into a next draft? Often groups work much better together when there is a concrete proposal to discuss. Who creates it?
We are clear what the ultimate decision making process will be.
Will the sub-group decide themselves or will they create a proposal that then gets voted on by the bigger whole?
An example for an invitation to co-create
We want to clarify our shared purpose, principles & who this group is for. We want to sharpen them together and we are doing an open call for anyone who is energized to join the co-creation process. Who wants to actively help shape this? We propose to do this as a journey with 6 calls of 90 minutes spread out over three months. The invitation is to actively participate in 5 out of 6 calls. The calls will happen on the following dates… The calls themselves will be hosted by A and B, who will facilitate the conversations and take the lead on creating proposals. At the end of this process we’ll share a proposal with the whole group and then we’ll decide by consent decision making. We’ll wrap this cycle up by April 2023. Would you be energized to co-create? Or maybe you’d be interested to help host the process? Let us know and we’d love to include you.
How does this resonate with you? What have you learned about making co-creative processes in community energizing? Thanks for sharing!
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