Continuing the conversation about co-creation, here was my definition of it last year on Brandshift. This may address several of the comments in the last post concerning what types of products and services could benefit from co-creation. As the following post was written over a year ago, now's the time to update it and perhaps give more examples within each category. Ideas and comments welcome! A lot has been written in the past year on the topic, but I find it more fun to co-create the idea of co-creation.
"An open, ongoing collaboration between employees and customers to define and create products, services, experiences, ideas and information."
Open brings in the idea of transparency, so that non-participants can easily see the collaborative process. This, in my mind, eliminates traditional customer research from the definition.
Ongoing implies that it's not a one-time shot at obtaining customer input and then taking the rest of it in-house. Anyone can participate at any time.
Collaboration brings in the spirit of teamwork. Employees and customers are peers in the process. In many cases, the company simply serves as a facilitator of the process.
Products are probably the most clear-cut application for co-creation: open-source software, Lego Factory, Google's API. We could add Wikipedia to this list as a co-created encyclopedia (although it would also apply to information and ideas).
Experiences: This gets a bit more fuzzy. A good example is probably Apple iTunes/iPod customized playlists... the company provided the tools to allow customers to create their own music experience. We could get really fuzzy here and say that because a brand is an idea in the minds of customers, then all brands are co-created. But I won't say it, because I think it's confusing the issue. Any more tangible examples of co-created experiences?
Services: This is another tough one. Typically a service company exists to do something that a customer doesn't want to do. Again, would love some ideas on how service companies could work with customers to co-create.
Ideas: What we're doing now, co-creating this definition of co-creation.