Rich Co-creation

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What is Rich Co-creation?

Originated by Jack Martin Leith, Rich Co‑creation is a purpose-led, egalitarian way of getting things done in which all necessary ecosystem members (stakeholders and beyond) work together from the outset and on an equal footing to bring forth a mutually-beneficial result and generate maximum value for customers or users, other stakeholders, wider society, and, as a natural consequence, the enterprise itself.

The mutually-beneficial result could be a new product, service, facility, establishment or event; a renewed sense of purpose; a new vision, business model or strategy; a new organizational design; a new way of working; a solution to a complex or persistent problem; or just about anything.

In a generative enterprise—one that seeks to enrich the world—every team uses the Rich Co-creation principles and practices to plan, launch and expedite projects that contribute to the accomplishment of the enterprise’s mission, thereby manifesting its intent.

Read about generative enterprise

Co‑creation vs. collaboration

Mostly I talk about co‑creation rather than collaboration, for the following reasons:

When used as a short form of Rich Co‑creation, co-creation indicates that people work together on the project from inception to completion. They are not invited or co‑opted to help implement someone else’s plan, which is often the case with a collaborative project.

Co-creation is a coherent set of principles, methods and tools, whereas collaboration is a nebulous concept consisting mostly of motherhood and apple pie statements (“We must work together with stakeholders” etc.), sensible team working practices that date back to the 1980s, and technology that may hinder as much as it helps.

For example, see How Structured Project Management Software Blocks Collaboration, by Scott R. Schreiman, on Medium, and this:

Many years ago I made the following statement — “The individual is the new group” — and the tools that we see arising today start there, focusing on what Cal Newport, the author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, calls ‘deep work’:

“Deep Work: Cognitively demanding activities that leverage our training to generate rare and valuable results, and that push our abilities to continually improve.”

He contrasts that with ‘shallow work’:

“Shallow Work: Tasks that almost anyone, with a minimum of training, could accomplish (e-mail replies, logistical planning, tinkering with social media, and so on).”

I maintain that much of what social collaboration tools are designed to support is shallow work, and the stuff of managerial oversight.

Source: Understanding the failed promise of ‘social collaboration’, by Stowe Boyd, on Gigaom website.
Co-creation indicates that people are doing creative work — they are bringing into being something that did not exist previously.

We can say something was co‑created, but we cannot say it was collaborated.

For those Europeans who were alive during the Second World War, collaboration continues to mean “the act of cooperating traitorously with an enemy that is occupying your country”. This is why the word was taboo in the United Kingdom until quite recently. We must thank the people of the USA for its rehabilitation.

Having said all that, I know there are many times when collaborate, collaboration and collaborative are the right words for the job.

The business case for Rich Co-creation

Mission focused, enterprise-wide co-creation is a new proposition and hard evidence of its effectiveness is not yet available. However, I predict the benefits listed below.

Rich Co-creation is an enterprise-wide methodology for planning, designing and expediting projects in the areas of problem solving, innovation, change, development, and potential realisation. Everyone is employing the same principles and practices to achieve the same ends.

The five categories of co-creation project: problem solving, innovation, change, development, and potential realisation

Understanding the difference between development and potential realisation: Imagine a company that operates bus services. The company’s value generation capability could be expanded by buying more buses, or by replacing single decker buses with double deckers. In both cases, the company would be a undertaking a development project. Getting more people to use the buses would be a potential realisation project.

Robert C. Jones

Credit: Robert C. Jones
Rich Co-creation harnesses the knowledge, wisdom and creativity of a large number of people.

Ideas are conceived that have the potential to generate significant value for customers and the wider ecosystem.

Insights are revealed that might otherwise remain undiscovered.

As joint authors of the project plan, people are fully committed to bringing it to fruition.

People give of their best, because their work has purpose, it is fulfilling, and their creative potential is liberated.

Productive relationships with colleagues, customers and other ecosystem constituents are fostered.

Innovation and change endeavours produce the desired results quickly, without so-called ‘resistance’. If the proposed project meets the value requirements of all constituents of the enterprise ecosystem, the relevant people within these constituent organisations will support the project, or — at the very least — will not hinder its progress.

Resistance is what happens when you have messed up the design process. Not only do we need to we need to stop talking about resistance—we need to stop seeing resistance.

Source: Resistance to change, by Jack Martin Leith.

The desired state of affairs is accomplished quickly, smoothly and without any unwanted consequences.

Ecosystem value is maximised and anti-value is minimised.

The elusive objective of alignment is achieved. The work of every enterprise member, from the CEO to the most junior employee, contributes directly or indirectly to the manifestation of intent (i.e. the animation of purpose and the realisation of the enterprise’s vision of realised potential).

The pursuit of greatness is encouraged. Mediocrity is not tolerated.

Download the article Creating Greatness in the Realm Beyond Systems Thinking, by Jack Martin Leith (pdf)

See also: Why transform your organization into a generative enterprise?

Read more about Rich Co-creation

Additional Rich Co-creation resources

Cultivating the creative learning organization

Enterprise ecosystem



The origins of Rich Co-creation

Rich Co-creation principles

Rich Co-creation methods, models and tools

Value and anti-value

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