Co-creation engages users directly in creating innovative solutions to meet their needs. Co-creation engages, equips and empowers users or the whole community to personalize their own experience. Not only is a community far more likely to adopt a practice or service that it helped create, but you’ll also gain valuable insight into many aspects of a solution that might not normally emerge. In some cases, you may identify existing innovators within the community who can benefit from getting direct funding and support to develop innovative solutions. 

The challenge this method often encounters is how to translate innovations from individual benefits to market-based gains which may be attractive to investors, such as financial viability, sustainability, efficiency and scale. While enabling users to innovate can be empowering, addressing societal barriers to real change for poor and vulnerable people may also be difficult.

Co-creation method can be beneficial to be used in conjunction with human-centered design methods, to increase efficiency in uncovering user-driven ideas, and to broaden their applicability.



User Involvement Users are invited to play an active role in creating and crafting the solution in collaboration with the experts, or on their own with support
Key Expertise Selected users who can substantially contribute to, or lead the innovation process with their deep understanding of their community and personal motivation
Key Roles Users/beneficiaries: Provide ideas and develop solutions
Designers: Work with users to guide ideas to suit program goals and conditions
Moderators: Facilitate participant group interactions
Essential Tools Recruitment profile: Identify the most suitable users/beneficiaries to actively involve in the creation process
Implementation Resources:
Place, tools & other resources to design, build & test new ideas
Means for participants to engage and / or develop solutions
Outputs Innovative solutions led by or co-created with users (from ideas, concepts, & prototypes; to finalized products, services, or practices) Refined concepts or solutions based on users’ deep insights & creativity
Cost & Time Cost: Expert moderators, development of prototypes, venue hire and expenses for co-creation workspace, supporting users’ livelihood.
Time: Depends on the scale of engagement and the intended final outcome, such as fidelity of the prototype.


Problem Framing 

Co-creation works best when solutions to your problem require intimate and deep knowledge of users and their environments which may not be effectively acquired through ethnography or human-centred design methods, and when there are motivated and knowledgeable users who can contribute. You need to decide if it’d be best to support key users to lead the process, or to form a team with other expertise including key users to work on your problem.


Identification of Key Users

You may have decided to pursue the co-creation method because you have already identified eligible key users who can lead or substantially contribute to the development of innovative solutions. If not, you may need to scan target communities to look for existing innovators, or those who qualify for conditions you have identified.

Set your expectations on the type of outcome and the duration of engagement with participating users, which need to be negotiated and agreed with them. If you require users to take on a lot of responsibilities, you may need to consider supporting their personal livelihood during the engagement period to get their commitment.


Design and Development

Co-creation method can be used for a simple workshop, as well as the whole process of ideation to implementation of a solution. Regardless of the length, it is important to provide a platform and tools for participants to easily turn their ideas into tangible solutions. Other participants with complementary skills can play an important role in boosting the confidence of participants, such as designers who can visualize their ideas and iterate along with their input, or engineers who can propose suitable technical solutions to build a working prototype.

Plan for Next Steps

The outcome from the co-creation are user-led, but it often requires further steps to scale up, especially as it may not be directly applicable to wider user groups.

There may be also issues with patents or regulatory rules that need to be considered in order for the innovation to scale up. It is also important to agree with users how to continue or discontinue the engagement once the period of co-creation is over.