Co-creation and how to go about it

Co-creation and how to go about it

2 Mar 2017

DHL are using it to innovate and increase efficiency, creating a “smart glasses” and augmented reality that has resulted in a 25% efficiency improvement in inventory and warehouse picking. The NHS is using it to improve self-management for patients with long-term conditions. Social enterprises and charities are using it to better tell the stories of their beneficiaries.

Co-creation has been around as a term for several years now, but it's still the only the most strategic and open-minded organisations that are using it well.

What is co-creation?

Co-creation basically means collaborative creation. This could be for anything - a new product, a way of delivering services or an advertising campaign. At Co-relate, we define co-creation as an activity with a creative output designed to listen to, involve and empower communities.

This could be:

  • older people co-designing a support service that meets their needs
  • people with disabilities building an accessible website
  • young people researching future jobs and producing an infographic (see our project with Creative and Cultural Skills.)

More than a focus group

Traditional focus groups get people together, test some ideas and usually leave it up to the creatives to accept or ignore the feedback. In co-creation the ideas and content are generated, tested and approved by the group. They retain collective oversight of the product or service through the development process.

Top creatives will be involved with the process so they can hear from the audience first-hand and bring in the professional view..

In addition to creating something that they care about, participants will also gain or practice skills in communication, team work and pitching/presentation.

The process

1. Meet with audience members. Often this will be a mixed group of different audience members, including staff and stakeholders. The workshop looks for consensus on the following questions:

·      What do we know about the issue and audience?

·      Why does it matter to us and what matters most?

2. Find the message, media and channel. Planning is the key to any successful communications project and this stage provides the foundation for PR and distribution plans. The group explores the following questions:

  • Where will our audience be, how do we reach them?
  • What’s it about? How would you say it to a friend?
  • What does success look like? How will we know when it’s good?

3. Get creative. Often this stage will take place with creative professionals – eg. writers, designers, filmmakers or photographers in the room. It will:

  • Look at what’s already out there, research content.
  • Design/write/film/photograph/create social media.

4. Critical feedback. This is the point where the creative is tested with different audience members.

  • Participants will ask the following questions: Does this work? What do other people think? Are we missing something?
  • Feedback and input from stakeholders/experts.
  • Amend and seek sign off.

5. Launch and promote. This stage is all about getting the product out to the right people through the right channels and enlisting the help and contacts of everyone in the group.

6. Evaluate and feed back. Involving the group in evaluating the success, based on criteria agreed in stage 2, is crucial for the learning process and also to improve future products.

Co-creation techniques

Co-creation from Poached Creative starts with an audience group and a brief or theme. We facilitate groups using a range of techniques to engage them in the creative process over anything from two to twelve sessions.

Some of these techniques include:

  • open discussion, brainstorming and mood boarding
  • creating audience personas
  • future basing
  • SWOT and PEST analysis
  • distribution and PR planning
  • action planning, assigning roles and tasks
  • presentation/pitching and critical review
  • documenting progress and building networks through social media.


“Co-creation is not a customer advisory board on steroids or a clever sales and marketing tactic.



For more information visit:


Telling The Story of Camden's Youth Hub Project Board


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