5 guiding principles for Expert Co-creation

We work for various brands and industries: from beers, bread and cheese to insurance, mobility, airlines and education. However, our unique approach to crack complex challenges remains the same: expert co-creation.

Expert co-creation provides the right answers by bringing great minds and expertises together, but only if done properly. Our co-founders already defined the guiding principles of expert co-creation nine years ago, the early days of Fronteer. These strongly defined recommendations are still applied on a daily basis by our growing team of dedicated expert connectors. Here are the 5 guiding principles of expert co-creation:

1. Inspire participation

Most people care about the products and brands around them and want to contribute. But you still need to show them what’s in it for them; open up and trigger them by showing a clear benefit. Three key elements to do so are to:

  1. Show them who you are,
  2. Explain why you need their help and
  3. Share what will be done with the results.

Understanding why people participate is key but just as important: setting the scene. Create an open and transparent environment where people feel welcome to contribute.

2. Select the very best

After you have inspired people to participate, you want to select the very best. Because you need the best ideas and the best people to deal with your complex challenge. This selection process is crucial. The whole point is to involve individuals whose backgrounds and experience somehow connect to the challenge at hand.

You can search for those great individuals online, use your own and your colleagues’ network, or through good-old detective work. At Fronteer, we have our own team of expert connectors, specialised in finding and selecting the best. They consider thought leadership, proven expertise, creative and constructive thinking, great communication and social skills to be key indicators in selecting someone for our expert co-creation sessions.

3. Connect creative minds

One of our mantras is ‘stand on each other’s shoulders and not on each other’s toes’. In expert co-creation this means sharing information, ideas, experiences, dreams, strategies, successes and failures in order to learn from each other. The holy grail is to establish common ground and build a sense of equal participation. Be sure to drop the ‘us vs. them’ approach we know from traditional research. Holding back information or having hidden agendas is out of the question. And last but not least, expert co-creation needs the best environment to create, share, respond to and improve ideas. This is not limited to the space you’re in, but also concerns your toolbox, involving visualisers and energetic and inspiring moderation of the workshop.

4. Share results

‘Giving back’ is crucial – as well as ‘how’ you do it. Co-creators add value to the challenge and acknowledging this is important: there should always be something ‘in it’ for contributors. This compensation can be monetary, but more often, something less tangible can be considered a greater reward – in any case it should be clear and fair. Some examples: recognise people as contributor (status) or invite them to join more challenges (appreciation). And don’t forget even the most basic step: keeping experts informed of progress and developments concerning the challenge.

5. Continue development

What comes out of co-creation can be anywhere between 20-80% in terms of completeness. The idea is usually a rough diamond and needs serious cutting and polishing. The expert co-creation output will become part of the company’s innovations process and will go through the innovation process, but with one big main difference: the link is made with the outside world. Leverage this link in all steps of the process: use contributors to align, iterate, enrich and get constant feedback. Involve internal sponsors to drive implementation forward and tackle the ‘not invented here’ syndrome if it rears its ugly head.
And from a contributors point of view: open innovation includes an implicit promise to keep them in the loop. It’s a way of showing respect for time and effort they have put into it: communicate regularly with status updates. They will be very well received.

Opening-up to external experts can be scary, but in the end it’s the results that count: new products, new profit pools, new ways of thinking, new energy. What you will always get out of co-creation, are great connections between kindred spirits, fresh perspectives on your business and inspiring ideas that will guide you in the right direction.

Do you want to learn more about what co-creation can do for you? Talk to us!


Download our extensive white-paper on the 5 guiding principles of Expert Co-creation here