The four types of co-creation

February, 2022

Now you know what co-creation means (if not read our latest Tools & Tips: ‘What is co-creation?’) it’s time to introduce you to the four main types of co-creation.

Two axes define the four types of co-creation:

  • Who is invited to contribute? (Can anyone join in or are contributors selected?)
  • Who owns the outcome? (The initiator or all contributors?)

Putting contribution and ownership together gives us a lovely 2×2 matrix, the “weapon of choice” for consultants and professors the world over. What follows are four types of co-creation. Each type has its own specific pros and cons, so choose wisely.

1. Crowdsourcing. Where an initiator invites “everyone” to contribute ideas towards the challenge he or she has. It can be an open call for concepts, designs, ideas, solutions… The initiator “owns” the outcomes;

2. Community co-creation. Where communities (groups of people who share an interest, identity, or benefit) contribute towards a shared purpose. Everyone within the community (could be everyone) benefits from the outcome;

3. Coalitions. Where groups of selected individuals/organizations join forces to realize a shared goal that none of them could achieve individually. Outcomes are owned/shared by all contributors;

4. Expert co-creation. Where specific experts are handpicked to synthesize perspectives and solve an initiator’s challenge. Interactions between participants are generally deeper than in Crowdsourcing cases, and the outcomes are “owned” solely by the initiator.


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