The more spiritual amongst us believe that when we visualize our dream on the horizon, we will ‘automatically’ manifest it. The adage of the more pragmatic is: “It’s all about having a good plan.” Both are right to some extent, but both fail to fill in the details of how to get to that dream, or how to break up that broad plan into sensible steps. To forget about the details of the plan is dangerous, for however beautiful the dream, it will never come true if you don’t know how to get there. This is why many brilliant ideas don’t manifest into value propositions that their intended target groups really want and why many a promising startup ends up failing.
Basics and core
Experience has taught us that manifesting a dream, or having a good plan comes down to two things: planning the ‘basics’ and planning the ‘core’.
Planning the ‘basics’ includes setting up social media, a website, sales channels, logistics, etc. These are hygiene factors that need your careful attention as they can cause your success or failure later on, but will not actually help you get to a great value proposition. Planning the ‘core’ is all about creating the heart of your offer: a product or service that your future customers really want to buy or use. In order to be successful in the long run, you need to take care of the basics as well as the core, preferably starting with the latter.
We believe that Complete Co-creation is the most effective and most efficient way to help you get to the core. While co-creating the core, you will find yourself simultaneously shaping the basics, which are a logical extension of the core.
Getting to the core can be challenging. Most importantly, it requires formulating a key insight that is a universal truth for your target group. Insight flows from a deep understanding of the drivers and barriers, dreams and fears of the target group. In order to get to such a deep level of understanding, you need to literally get under your target group’s skin. This takes time and requires certain skills and tools. Then, once you have your insight, you need to get together with your target group and other relevant parties, and co-create a relevant, credible proposition with unique benefits that flows straight from the key insight. Again, this will require time, skills, and tools. And it can’t be planned in detail.
Forget about spreadsheets defining each and every step; Complete Co-Creation is a journey that should be allowed some space to unfold. Although from a helicopter view it does follow the logical development phases (research, development, fine-tuning, launch, follow-up), in reality it is a process that goes from diverging to converging and back, involving many small loops between the phases. There will always be surprises on the way that call for a different approach, different tools, different participants, and an ever adjusted timeline. It is important to accept this beforehand, to be willing to learn all the time, and to keep an open, playful attitude throughout the process. It is equally important to explain this to your stakeholders and keep them happy with in-between reports and small victories.
For many, the process of getting from understanding to insight to proposition in Complete Co-Creation is unknown territory. It may seem daunting to have to master and use new skills and tools and to trust a process that can’t be planned ahead in detail. It may seem impossible to convince stakeholders of this path. And it may seem appealing to just skip the insight and co-creation parts and dive right into putting together an offer, safely done with colleagues behind closed doors, following well-known spreadsheets.
But beware. This safe old process won’t help you manifest the loyalty of tomorrow’s customer. Complete Co-Creation will give you the key insight you need to be relevant, while allowing you to adapt the development of your offer to the whims of your audience, manifesting a dream that is not only yours, but also theirs.
Authors: Maarten Pieters & Stefanie Jansen, Copyright 2014