As a third part of our interview of The Palladium Group consultant Professor Venkat Ramaswamy, one of the fathers of co-creation, we propose you two questions about co-creators and success factors of co-creation initiatives. Check it out !
eYeka: Are there specific characteristics that individuals should display to be good co-creators?
Prof. Ramaswamy: This is a good question. I use the metaphor of colors to characterize co-creation: Think of the enterprise (ecosystem capability based sensibilities) as the color blue and stakeholders (experience based sensibilities) as the color yellow. The goal is to blend the two to get green (where the co-creation opportunities lie). Good co-creators should have both. As people on the enterprise side connect as users (e.g., in the case of mobile devices), and those on the user side connect as platform providers, there is more effective co-creation.
One of the examples I use is Tom Hanks in the movie “Big”. Tom is a child who wishes he were an adult, becomes one, and ends up as a product manager in a toy company. In the movie, he still has the mind of a child (yellow) while acting as an adult (blue). Now, there’s a good co-creator.
eYeka: Would you give us an example of co-creation failure? Why can co-creation fail? What errors must be avoided?
Prof. Ramaswamy: Well, let us go back to the movie “Big”. There’s a scene of a new product launch meeting, where Tom Hanks doesn’t “get” the new product. Despite his not being included in the new product development process, when he “expresses why he doesn’t get it”, it is interesting to see that the rest of the people sitting in the meeting, “don’t get what Tom doesn’t get”.
The point I’m making is what is the culture of the organization? Are they co-creation ready? The reality is that while consumers and all other stakeholders are ready to co-create with enterprises, intended co-creation can fail if enterprises do not have the capabilities to embrace and execute against it. In most cases, the resistance and breakdowns occur because participants’ concerns haven’t been meaningfully addressed, and there is a lack of dialogue building on issues of transparency and access of concern to participants.
Co-creation principles should be utilized in both the means and the end. So, for instance, in designing an open innovation platform, it is important to enhance co-creative engagement with stakeholders in the design process to reduce chances of failure. The whole point of co-creation is not to « build it and they will come », but « build it with them and they are already there ».
eYeka would like to thank The Palladium Group Asia-Pacific for making this interview happen. Prof. Ramaswamy is a Fellow of The Palladium Group Asia-Pacific and spoke on two international conferences this year: The 2011 Strategy Execution Forum in Sydney (May 17th) and in Auckland (May 20th).