Designing for Co-Creation article

Companies have become accustom to being self-absorbed and following precedent rather than innovating.  Traditionally, businesses set rules and rewarded individual achievement rather than shared intelligence.  But can co-creation mobilize the majority by encouraging collaboration for the greater good? The growth of digital technology can let business accomplish this by encouraging employees to interact, share and create with the people around us.

How?

Subtly redesign meetings and documents: By encouraging meetings where the team is focusing on factors they would not usually consider, it allows employees to keep an open mind and have the perspective of many world views.  Employees are encouraged to challenge other employees to see things from their point of view, regardless of whether or not they agree with their decisions or opinions.  This will the company build trusting teams and broaden existing strengths.  Instead of characterizing deep thinking as a negative action of “intellectualizing,” encouraging teams to be open to “blind spots” they may not have considered previously will create an open dialogue among a diverse group of people who may have different perspectives.

Institutionalize Innovation and Collaboration Habits Using Heuristics: Company culture has a large effect on success.  Studies have shown that company culture was the greatest determinant of profitable innovation (over R&D focus, budget, etc.).  This openness to innovation and creativity is what makes companies like Apple and Google so successful.  Behavior can be adjusted by creating a heuristic (a “rule of thumb”) that instills a standard way of doing things at the organization and encourages innovation.  Encourage new employees who will have an unaffected perspective on what could be improved and use those suggestions to create new habits.  For example, tell employees to “Never stop questioning the way we do things.”

Incentivize Inner Motivation as Much as Leveraging Financial or Professional Reward: Show employees that there are personal benefits of being innovative.  Rather than giving a bonus, which can actually discourage innovation, encourage innovation as its own benefit — the engagement it creates within the company, create motivation from the excitement that comes from problem solving and the fulfillment that comes from being challenged.  Show teams that their mistakes won’t lead to ridicule and trust them, knowing that change is risky.   Try invcentivizing a team rather than the individual to encourage collaboration rather than hinder it.

Questions:

Are these strategies more likely to work among younger generations, with smaller companies, among liberals, right-brained thinkers, etc. rather than already-established businesses that are most likely resistant to change?  Why change when what I’m doing is good enough?

Giving people the freedom to fail comes at a cost. How can managers/CEOs give permission to fail, encourage employees not to think about past failures or mistakes and celebrate risk when these things come at a cost to the business and to profits?

A focus on short-term rewards inhibits innovation.  But how do companies take the time to focus on long-lasting opportunities when the organization’s future depends on consistent financial success/pay-offs?