The article is originally braft in Greenhouse for Management
Anne-Mette Scheibel
Partner, Resonans A/S
Nanna Hebsgaard
Partner, Resonans A/S

Co-creation Leadership: From Visions to Impact

What is the biggest challenge facing your organization right now? Is this a challenge that you can solve on your own, or does it require you to bring different actors together?

In this article, we give you 6 tips on how to succeed in co-creation and how, as a leader, you can bring your organization from vision to impact.

In February 2017, the national Co-Creation Movement opened in the Folketing's Common Hall with amazing energy and commitment. There was broad support for the need to co-create the welfare society of the future across sectors and classical divides. On the day, we had gathered politicians from the Danish parliament, regions and municipalities, as well as top managers from central government, municipalities, the education sector, NGOs and the private sector. Along the way, we gained insight into the necessary impact of co-creation in the form of 4 citizens' concrete experiences of useful initiatives across civil society, public and private sectors as young people, as refugees, as older people and as entrepreneurs. Motivation to create more co-creative actions with value and impact in the future was high. The same was the case in the Co-Creation Arena at Folkemødet 2017 a few months later, where we, together with 20 co-organizers and a sea of committed participants, created proposals for solutions to concrete welfare issues. But how do you as a leader get started to support your visions in practice through co-creation? Read on and get 6 of our best advice.

1. Find the experience and enlarge through the strengths

First of all, it is important not to shut down the potentials of co-creation by saying: “We already do”. Instead, as a leader, you need to be curious about the details of what you are already doing well. When do you succeed in co-creation? Why? And how can you enlarge and train your co-creation muscles through the good examples? When you are not successful in co-creation, what is the reason for that? And how can you use your strengths to accelerate in the areas where you are challenged?

2. Mobilize the whole and create equal and diverse participation opportunities

As a leader, you are already strong in mobilizing the resources of your employees. Co-creation requires a broader mobilization in relation to the task or challenge to be solved, because the task is complex and therefore best solved by connecting resources and interests in and around your organization. For example, if you are the head of a kindergarten or school, then you may be curious about what hidden treasures are in your neighborhood. Hidden treasures or potentials that can play a part in working on your core task. For example, there are typically plenty of learning and development opportunities for the children at a local restaurant in terms of cooking, hygiene and doing business, about local history at the local library and care centre, where the generational meetings at the same time provide an amazing joy for both children and the elderly. In addition, there is great potential for primary schools to invite business, educational institutions and associations to open up the school and ensure both interest and renewal in the education and employment opportunities of the future.

3. Remember that reality wins and creates disturbances from the outside and inside

Most leaders have worked with innovation and innovation over the years — and the experience you have built in disrupting your organization is worth gold to reinforce co-creation. Disrupting from the outside, for example through interviews with citizens, users and partners, is an amazing force in and at the same time a prerequisite for a co-creation process, as challenges and potentials suddenly become very visible and concrete for the entire organization. It is crucial that, as the leader of a co-creation process, you support a renewed and common understanding of problems, so that you do not simply invite development around an internally defined theme.

4th. Connect the forces and facilitate the start-up

Co-creation requires that you as a leader do not control the process, but rather that you support the integration of the many resources and local forces. The management of co-creation is very much a matter of facilitating an open process in which many actors must have the opportunity to participate, define and realize. That is, as a co-creation leader, you must use your skills to ask questions and motivate the community to take responsibility.

5. Focus on the Transversal and Challenging

It is important that you put your extensive knowledge into play, for example, about your strategic and professional challenges, so that you help to focus and prioritize where co-creation is a relevant step? Co-creation is certainly not the answer to everything — but often to the cross-cutting challenges that are complex — and which we do not already solve exemplarily through everyday operations.

6. Think big and start small — and assess the impact

Co-creation can quickly grow into a big task, as there are many collaborators who are exciting to connect on the common task. However, it is important — to think big and start small so that the process does not take up too much in terms of what you want to achieve. The effect of what you want to achieve must therefore be in the center from the start. Specifically, we have good experiences of working experimentally with co-creation and drawing learning from delimited testing actions. The effect or value is assessed and measured at different levels and for different stakeholders, focusing both on the perceived impact among citizens and the intended and unintended effects.

Theme: Co-creation

Isn't co-creation just another word for collaboration across the board? No. Cross-border cooperation is a prerequisite for co-creation.

Co-creation requires an outside-from-in perspective. This means that citizens, users, associations, companies or other partners participate as equal co-creators of well-being, growth or in solving the complex challenges that are at the heart. Thus, it is not the public organization that defines the market alone. This happens in an open process, where the many perspectives unfold problem and potentials.

Therefore, cross-cutting cooperation is not equal to co-creation, but rather a crucial prerequisite for co-creation to succeed, since the complex challenges typically cross disciplines.

What does co-creation mean and what are the prerequisites for success?

Read more in the Manifesto for Co-creation, which RUC and Resonans have taken the initiative to develop together with 40 organisations.

Read the manifesto for co-creation

The 7 principles of the National Co-creation Movement:

#1 Help create new pathways to welfare across sectors

#2 Help solve societal problems and challenge habitual thinking in new communities

#3 Be part of an equal partnership where everyone brings knowledge and ideas

#4 Help increase collective action through active participation

#5 Help create public value through the mobilization of a diversity of ideas and resources

#6 Help create measurable effects through concrete interactions

#7 Be an ambassador for co-creation by sharing knowledge and experiences


More articles

We write articles that can help top managers, boards, employees, citizens and business actors to succeed better - both together and separately.

Track & Fan: New and Promising Actions Using Spur Evaluation
It is a good idea to track and fan what works in the public sector. Then others can learn from it and get inspiration for new thinking. But we need to be as confident as possible that what we have found is having a positive effect.
Politikerforum: Christiansborg should have trust representatives to ensure proper working conditions for politicians
There are plenty of wild problems that call for political leadership, where politicians set a clear direction and point out good and creative solutions. But how do we ensure our elected politicians burn through without burning out
Dear employee: Get involved in the strategy work
Employees play a crucial and central role in strategy work at work. Their active participation and commitment is essential to ensure that the strategy not only remains on the management board, but becomes a common concern.

Get the latest news on strategy implementation

If you want to keep up with the latest trends and developments in strategy realization, our LinkedIn page is the right place for you.

Visit us on LinkedIn