Designing Contexts: Co-creating Services

openhealthLooking back to my previous posting about the formation of business & creative clusters today I’ve decided to randomly post about strategic spaces which will be relevant for designers (and I mean this in the broadest and literal sense!) now and in the future. While I’m only a single voice in the market I’m thankful for any help & advise on relevant topics readers of this blog might find helpful! If you follow the recent debate among design & management related blogs as well as coverage in the business press “Customer Co-Creation” is one of the keywords you come across quite often. Interestingly the concept of co-creation goes back to the 1990’s to two of the leading business thinkers C.K. Prahalad and Venkatram Ramaswamy expressed in their book: The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. So what is co-creation mainly about? I’ve found this useful description at and I take the liberty to quote from their site:

“Co-Creation, in which value is not created in the firm and then exchanged with the customer, but in which value is co-created by the firm and the consumer. Value will have to be jointly created by both the firm and the consumer. In the traditional system, where firms decide on the products and services they will manufacture, by implication they decide what is of value to the customer. In this system, consumers have little or no role in value creation. During the last two decades, managers have found ways to partition part of the work done by the firm and pass it on to their consumers. Be it self-checkout, involvement of a subset of customers in product development, or a range of variants in between. Note that Co-Creation goes far beyond being merely customer oriented.”

Connected to this notion of creating products and services it becomes obvious that in an economy where information is flowing almost boundless via various media channels consumers’ self-confidence and stakes in terms of feeling respected by all sort of organisations are increasing. Interestingly one of the leading design organisations in the world the UK Design Council has published a report about co-creation of health services last year. Under the leadership of UK Design of the Year 2005 Hilary Cottam the Design Council’s RED Unit has defined co-creation as follows:

‘Co-creation should be the foundation for services configured and organised in new ways, in which users are participants in the design, creation and delivery of services,’ …

Even though the report is focused on the healthcare industry I’m pretty sure that the report provides useful hints on how to transform clusters like the Ruhrgebiet and the Zollverein areal into a creative hotspot which represents the design efforts of a multitude of stakeholders. Coincidentally RED just released additional support material documenting the “Co-Design” and “Co-Creation” by free PDF downloads as well as a short Quicktime movie to be found here >>>

2 Responses to “Designing Contexts: Co-creating Services”

  1. Mark Vanderbeeken Says:

    Dear Ralf,
    In fact the Design Council is doing exactly that. The new DOTT (”Designs of the Time”) initiative, lead by John Thackara, is aiming at a transformation of the North-East. We recently organised a workshop with Richard Eisermann, the Design Council’s head of design & innovation, to explore what this approach might mean for a design-lead transformation of the Region of Piedmont, Italy.
    With kind regards,
    Mark Vanderbeeken
    Senior Partner, Experientia

  2. Zollverein School Blog » Blog Archive » Aggregator Blog from the Olympic City of Turino Says:

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