Co-creation has passed the hype. It is here to stay and make its permanent mark all over the globe. As such, it is a key player in an important trend that has emerged over the past few years, one that will continue to spread in 2015: the cleansing of products, producers, and the production chain. This is a trend that makes many traditionally big players in the market (for good reason) quite nervous.
The startup movement, driven by young entrepreneurs who refuse to follow the rules laid out by big corporations and governments in the past decades, is dramatically changing the way things work. Two key themes drive this change: Opportunity and Accountability.
Although dominated by economic recess, this is a time of opportunity. Opportunity for new initiatives to change the rules and shift the powers. The innovation environment has never been this favorable to independent startups that aim to improve the existing and fill in previously unmet needs in a way that serves the producer, the users, and the planet.
Never before was the access to knowledge, networks, and resources to develop new ideas as open and nondiscriminatory as it is today. Those who recognize and utilize this, such as Blink Educatie and *Bliep, claim unparalleled success. Co-creating innovative teaching methods with kids, teachers, software engineers, and education experts, Blink Educatie is successfully challenging the existing monopoly in education in The Netherlands. Similarly, telecom provider *Bliep – a new player in the Dutch telecom market, co-created and co-produced with youth – managed to quickly become the number one telecom brand for teens and young adults.
In a world where people-driven campaigns can have a dramatic impact within days, accountability is a force that cannot be ignored. Concerned consumers delve deep into the wondrous world of production behind their everyday products and services. Their verdict (whether they are technically right or not) can have immense consequences. Bloggers like the FoodBabe, as well as social media campaigns set up by initiatives such as Avaaz and Sum of Us can fuel so much social pressure that companies such as Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Kraft & Chipotle have found themselves forced to change their production processes for the better.
Do better or die
These two forces combined, Opportunity and Accountability, result in a new paradigm that centers on true value creation. In this paradigm, the ultimate wellbeing of the planet and its people is the driving force. Its adage being ‘Do better, or Die’, it is born out of a need to share, rather than a need to compete.
As such, it calls for existing chains and propositions to become entirely transparent and clean inside out, and it requires new players to start out this way – transparent, honest, and clean. Companies choosing to remain closed, screwy, and dirty, will sooner or later meet a powerful customer-driven competitor, playing the game by the new rules and therefore quickly favored by the public.
The Co-Creation Paradigm
TheCoCreators call this new paradigm the Co-Creation Paradigm. Its premise is that true value is only created by involving those you are creating for. Although it is easier for startups to embrace a new paradigm, this does not mean that existing corporations can’t change to meet tomorrow’s demands. As soon as they acknowledge that change is necessary three things need to happen.
First: extraspect. Leave the ivory tower and see the opportunity that is everywhere around us for those who are ready to play by the new rules. Be excited about it, inspired, and itching to jump on that train.
Second: introspect. Take off those pink glasses and scrutinize the organization without mercy. Change what needs to be changed in order to proudly take full accountability of what is left, and share this with the world.
Third: co-create. Invite the end-user and other relevant parties to co-create a bright future – one that is sustainable for the organization itself, its users, and the entire planet.
(And fourth: make this your 2015 new year’s resolution).