Inspiring Co-Creation

A key theme of Inspired By Learning is Co-Creation.

Co-Creation is increasingly referred to in literature and in the media, and claims made about the benefits it brings and its efficacy.

What is Co-Creation, how does it work and why should we engage in it?

Since 2010 co-creation awards have been presented by the Co-Creation Association (CCA) based in the Netherlands (see

co creationThis I suggest, is an indication of the importance now being given to the concept. On the award website it is stated that the aim of the awards is to increase our knowledge and understanding of the co-creative process and encourage further  innovation (see

Co-creation awards recognise inspirational or innovative co-creative practices.

Awards have been given to Nike, for their ID range of running shoes, which the customer can personalise, ‘The Movie’, a crowd sourced movie, and the Christ Central Development Unit for their sharing of recovery development ideas, following the earthquake in Christchurch in New Zealand in 2011. Effective co-creation is occurring in a variety of very different contexts.

Because we are inter-connected and we rely on each other all the time, arguably everything we do is co-creative act. This is true, however co-creation is the consciously aware, intended or deliberate act of creation between two or more people.


The phrase ‘Co-Creation’ was coined by authors C K Prahald and Venkut Ramaswamy in their book ‘The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value With Customers’ (2004, Harvard Business Review Press). Prahald and Ramaswamy describe co-creation as a marketing or business strategy which emphasises company-customer interaction.

Today’s technology, in a business context, allows customers and consumers to be much more interactive than in the past, not only in selecting products and services, but in personalising and co-creating them. Increasingly customers are no longer content to be passive consumers. Purchasing is an experience.

Co-Creation often occurs at the product design phase prior to purchasing. A company gives consumers the necessary tools, usually online, to engage in product design or creation, as with Nike’s ID running shoes (see Another good example of product co-creation is open-sourcing. A product, for example software, is freely distributed and user changes and adaptations are openly shared. As well as in software development, open sourcing processes have been applied to the development of technology and to drug discovery. There is even an Open Source Software Institute! (

Businesses see benefits from co-creation as well as consumers. By learning from the experience of co-creating with the customer, companies are able to develop more appealing and appropriate products and services. Furthermore, customer or brand loyalty may increase.

Co-Creation is about much more than business and buying and selling. It occurs in different situations – in a group, in a community, in a club, in a coalition, and through one-to one or one-to-group interaction. Wherever and however it occurs, openness and ownership are always key aspects of co-creation. Openness in that the interaction between those involved is always honest. Ownership in that freedom of expression and creative control is retained by the creator(s).

With Inspired By Learning (IBL), co-creation does not focus upon the purchasing experience. And whilst the outcome of IBL co-creation is a product that is marketed – a book or other publication – neither is product development the focus. At IBL we go beyond a business mind-set (although we have that too!)

bookCo-Creation at IBL is about individual and collective growth, empowerment, expression, inspiration and sharing. It is focussed upon the writing process, interaction between people and the subsequent development or enhancement of what we do, professionally or otherwise.

Authors are supported to write and publish on subjects of their choosing. During co-creation, the author is always in control.  Advice and feedback are offered but the author decides how they will (or will not) respond.  In this collaborative and iterative process, the author and IBL begin by sharing and developing ideas and possibilities. They then go on to work together through each of the stages of writing, creating, designing and publishing. The result is a unique publication which aims to fully engage readers, to disseminate ideas, to stimulate thought, and to develop practice.

The IBL co-creative process enables people – educators, parents, students –  to communicate and share, both virtually and face-to-face. What is shared may be their practice, their thinking or the knowledge and insight that they have gained through their own learning. Being small scale, IBL gives individuals a publishing opportunity which may not otherwise be possible. Interaction is personalised and responsive.

This sharing occurs not only through publications on the IBL website, but also through communication between like-minded people, including IBL registered members. IBL is a creative community. Dialogue happens through blogs such as this, newsletters, videos, Twitter and Facebook. IBL also runs events such as book launches and seminars, where the themes and topics of IBL publications are presented by the authors and discussed. In this way, others are brought into the co-creative process.

It is not an exaggerated claim to say that IBL co-creation results in new writing, publications and events, that would not otherwise happen. And uniquely, this sharing of ideas and practice is multi-national and international. At the time of writing, there are registered members of IBL from 19 countries, from China to Canada!

At the end of the day, experience and personal and professional growth are as significant in co-creation, as product or outcome.

Was Co-Creation an open and equitable experience? Was it empowering?  Was it expansive? Was it collaborative? Was it worthwhile and purposeful? Was it as easy as possible? Was it successful?

If you have thoughts about or experience of co-creation…in any context not just education and publishing…we’d love it hear from you…please post a response…… 

If you wish to co-create with Inspired By Learning, please let us know at the IBL website, . See the ‘Co-Create’ box and the ‘contact us’ button. 

For some ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’ of co-creation, see the interesting article by Stefan Stern at