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What We’re Reading

Written by Mary Beth Schwartzwalder  • January 3, 2018

“Over the last decade there has been an explosion of interest in collaboration, open innovation, and crowd engagement. Many companies are moving away from a model in which products and services are created through a closed, top-down, expert-biased process and toward open, crowdsourced, user-driven strategies. Nonprofits, philanthropists, and community groups are also embracing cocreation as a response to the challenge of tackling pressing problems in an increasingly complex world.

And yet, while the language of cocreation isĀ en vogue, relatively few organizations are applying cocreative strategies to innovate boldly. We celebrate the solutions resulting from design competitions and open innovation processes, yet few of the results lead to systems change or profoundly shake up what is considered possible. Despite all the rhetoric of cocreation as an important tool for innovation, it appears that the majority of such efforts are doing little to challenge the basic structures of problem-solving. Meanwhile, our world cries out for designs that reimagine the way we do pretty much everything if we are to solve pressing problems like climate change, extreme inequality, and poverty.

After a two-year interdisciplinary research study exploring cocreative design processes in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, we have concluded that only a small percentage of cocreation efforts are actually creating systems-changing solutions aligned with the stated needs and priorities of the participants, let alone with the possibilities for innovation that such approaches offer. We were left wondering why the majority of cocreation endeavors fall short of their promise and potential, so we set out to find an answer.”

Read “Creating Breakout Innovation” in its entirety.

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