in Business Design

Co-creation and business

Migrating the practice of multidisciplinary collaboration from the product design world to the business design world can be tricky. This is especially true if taken to the level of “co-creation” — making everything together as much as is possible. There’s a bit about this in the literature (e.g. Co-Creating Health Services, HR & Management, and Fifth Generation Management), but not a lot.

Take a simple example: creating a document. Co-authoring a document with colleagues is straight-forward enough, but co-authoring it with a client is something else. The consultant is traditionally viewed as the domain expert who descends from on high to present THE DELIVERABLE (the word itself contradicts the idea of co-creation). There’s two points here: One, design thinking doesn’t rely on domain expertise, it relies on ways of doing things, such as collaboration. This allows for a productive pairing of the client’s domain expertise and the business designer’s process expertise. Two, co-creating a document goes against the grain of 100 years of consulting convention, so education is required along the way.

Something as simple as co-creating a document requires carefully balancing the roles of collaborator and trusted advisor. This isn’t your father’s consulting practice.