Nice landing, wrong airport: lessons learnt the hard way in co-creation

A 45 minute Case Study by:

Philippe Martens

Antwerp Management School

Remco Lenstra

Antwerp Management School

Theme: Design in practice: case studies, tools & techniques

About this Case Study

In this 45-minute session, Philippe Martens will introduce his findings from a career in researching and facilitating co-creation and service design thinking processes. Rooted in a case-based research project on the adoption of co-creation (with the university of Antwerp) and drawing from personal experience (and failure), Philippe has developed several strategies for keeping co-creation projects on track.

He will share 3 strategies:

1. It's not the process, but the input that determines the output: how to manage shared ambition and vision in co-creation processes

This focuses on the management of expectations within the group, but also on the role of design as an agent for problem setting rather than solely problem solving. Two main areas are highlighted: the development of a shared vision on what the project entails (and therefore the consequences related to the conscious decision of discarding irrelevant input), and the opportunity for co-creating shared vision and insights with stakeholders. We briefly touch on the importance of the function of design skills throughout the process.

2. Availability is not a competence: managing team composition and competencies throughout co-creation projects

This focuses on how to compose and manage a team on a mission. We look at how we can turn a top-down generated project plan into a self-organising project with an engaged team, actively looking for changing roles and additional knowledge, based on assets and competencies rather than hierarchy and structure. We highlight the importance of having a mandate when participating in co-creation.

3. Nice landing, wrong airport: how to create ownership and continuity in shared projects

Ownership is a difficult topic in co-creation. Depending on the composition of the team and the setting of the problem, each project starts with different degrees of ownership and personal motivation. Nevertheless, you want - as a facilitator - to leave the room knowing that everyone's efforts will find continuity. In essence there are 2 strategies that are important when it comes to playing with ownership: taking ownership away, when it impedes or limits the process, and creating new or shared ownership when participants are eager to join the process, but reluctant to take a role in the implementation of the results. Open design processes have an interesting way of creating solutions for someone else. If the result of your efforts is a brilliant concept, that is irrelevant for the team - you failed.

In demonstrating these strategies, Philippe will introduce several tools and methods that have proven very valuable, and explain why and how these tools are conducive to reaching the goal of a co-creation project. This doesn't mean this session is solely about solutions and fail-safe approaches to innovation. It is the experience of a team that has tried to become better at co-creating, so you don't make the same mistakes.

About the Speakers

Philippe Martens

Philippe Martens graduated from the University of Antwerp in 1996 with a master's in product design. In 1999 he was made laureate of the Design and Enterprise Fund of the King Baudouin Foundation. He then spent over 9 years with Belgian high-tech company Barco as design manager.

Since June 2009, Philippe has been consulting organisations on service design, business design and design management for the Antwerp Management School.


Remco Lenstra

Trained as an industrial designer, Remco started his career in the R&D department of a renowned furniture company, quickly growing into R&D and design management.

In 2008 he joined Flanders Inshape, the Flemish design council, where he coordinated a €4000k research fund aimed at translating academic knowledge in the field of design into applicable, relevant knowledge for businesses. This is also when he started teaching in several technical colleges and universities throughout Flanders. Within Flanders Inshape, Remco got introduced to service design.

In 2016 Flanders Inshape merged with Antwerp Management School, where service design and exponential thinking have tremendous possibilities in training the thought leaders of future businesses.

Throughout his career, Remco has spent at least 20% of his time consulting various companies (form SMEs to multinationals) on how to apply design thinking and introduce design capabilities at a relevant scale within their specific business context. As an academic director, Remco currently designs and delivers executive masterclasses in the field of business design and innovation.

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