I was talking with a Professor of Local Government in Stuttgart recently about co-creation in the public sector. (Note: More often known as co-production in the public sector rather than co-creation as in the private sector). Apparently, central and local government is starting to experiment with engaging citizens directly in the design, inplementation and operation of services for the public. There have been some successes and some failures. He pointed me to a number of good resources about co-production.

Have you been involved in or seen any good examples of co-creation (co-production) in the public sector?

What made them successful or unsuccessful?

Graham Hill
Customer-centric Innovator

PS. I have attached three files on Co-Production from the UK Cabinet Office, nef and Nesta. 

Maybe you have seen other ones that might interest Wenovski members.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Graham,
Can you share the resources he pointed you to ?
Hi Graham
There is a lot of work being done in Finland (and for sure other parts of Scandanavia) much of which originates out of the tradition of participatory design.

In particular you might want to take a look at work by Andera Botero and team at the Media Lab, University of Art and Design Helsinki (TAIK) http://mlab.taik.fi/. They have been focused on co-design in civic contexts and working with their local government (amongst many other partnerships).
As I understand it the Urban Mediator project was developed with the local government and members of the public.

Some documentation here
http://mlab.taik.fi/urbanmediator/?page_id=5 -

Also you might be interested in the Living Lab projects - they are across Europe but here is one example

Also there is another very interesting case study in helsinki with a group of seniors completely redesigning their own living arrangements for "growing old", with support of local government they have built an entirely new community + housing based on their own needs. not sure if it fits into your original query, but perhaps worth sharing anyway, some info here

Hi Penny

Thanks for the leads. I will duly follow them up.

I will be particularly interested to see if the projects look beyond participatory design to the nitty-gritty of value co-creation at individual touchpoints.

Although we are still far from it, the co-creation of public services based on a Design Thinking approach should really be table-stakes. But that is not enough. The real win:win comes when participants stop looking at services, or even experiences, as something that are delivered to and consumed by citizens, and start looking at service from a 'service-dominant logic' perspective as something that is co-created at the point of consumption. This is what will drive tomorow's value co-creation.

Thanks once again.

Graham Hill
Customer-centric Innovator
Hi Graham

Can you elaborate more on what you are looking for in the "to the nitty-gritty of value co-creation at individual touchpoints" - this might help me to direct more appropriate examples.

Although it is largely driven by academic examples Participatory Design is one of the areas of design that has always understood the process of design as intimately entwined with use and the role of people in actualising design. This is in part conveyed through concepts like 'design in use' and 'design completed in use' which are central to PD. This thinking is now being more widely recognised and taken up in different ways through disciplines like Service Design - which is great.

When you say beyond PD - do you mean beyond the initial creation process to the ongoing "co-creation" over time?

Hi Graham,

Thanks for opening up this group - the change really comes from within the community (and is pretty much the public sector;-)) We are all part of the public sector and it drives in some subtle ways our daily life.

That makes it reasonable to focus on it more when talking about co-creation.

Engaging people within a community will depend strongly on the trade-off between spare time and benefit that my personal efforts to change will give me back. In the beginning of the initiative the benefit are probably still a bit fuzzy and intangible. Just building up the network that will eventually lead into the groups that drive the change in various areas doesn't bring direct benefit (in conventional money terms). So if the free time I have available to do that extra activities is little so will be my personal activity in the non-work field.

If however I manage to "create" more free time through lean (through lean thinking) my current work processes so I don't have to do overtime then I get more spare time for the change activities, which will lead to higher positive feedback and results, perhaps even attracting more new people into the group.

...just as I write I see a nice case to why the change is often seen as to be so difficult and slow;-)

Learning by writing I woudl call that.

How do you see what I have described in short words? Does that make sense?

Best regards, Ralf
ThinkPublic would be another example too would they not?
And Participle http://participle.net
Hi Ralf

Thanks for your post.

We do have a real challenge in attracting people to work with us on co-designing and co-creating public services. In my experience, a lot of this is due to the almost disdain that many public services 'professionals' have of the public. Have you ever tried to have an adult to adult conversation with your child's teacher recently? Talk about transactional analysis!

At one level I can understand this. As research in co-creation in the private sector has shown, only a minority of customers have the characteristics required to be a representative of other customers. See Donna Hoffmann's forthcoming article about 'Emergent Customers' from the Journal of Marketing Research for more details (attached).

With so many broken public services out there, public services professionals desperately need to start to recruit the public to help design services that are fit for the purposes that our taxes are paying for.

Graham Hill
Customer-centric Innovator
Hi Graham,

Thanks a lot for the paper. It is interesting as long as people have the ability to talk about bad public service, they are in some sort bound together. As soon as someone mentions about taking action personally as a group or individuals, most people (who formerly were talking a lot on the issue) quietly draw back.

Engaging these people and turning their energy (that all of us have in our internal personality) into fruitfull action for the whole (citizenship, community, region) is what really makes the difference.

My personal approach is getting into conversation first and find out what their drivers, concerns and montal models are. Then the moving towards collective change is doable. What is your impression?

Best regards

Hi Penny

Apologies for the slow response.

There seem to be a number of different schools of co-creation.

The co-creation that I see most often in service design writers is one of actively engaging customers in the design of new services. This typically takes the form of an iterative process including field research, understanding the customer context, creating usage scenarios, building iterative prototypes and so on. To me, this is perhaps more co-design than co-creation.

The co-creation that I see most often in service marketing writers is subtly different. It uses a similar co-design process (albeit with much less customer engagement and iterative design) but it starts from a significantly deeper, almost quantitative understanding of how customers perceive value at each touchpoint in the service. For example, services marketers schooled in Vargo & Lusch's Service-Dominant Logic look at how value is co-created at each individual touchpoint, which parties are involved in the co-creation process and what knowledge, skills and experience each party should bring to the touchpoint to increase the co-creation of value for all parties.

As someone trained in service marketing, but actively using service design thinking in my service innovation work, I try to combine the best of both worlds. In particular, trying to understand how to increase value co-creation at individual touchpoints, as a foundation for iteratively co-designing the larger service. It is this that I think of as the nitty-gritty of value co-creation.

I hope that helps make things clearer.

Graham Hill
Customer-centric Innovator
Hi Zagros,
I have just created a group here to spread the idea about an UnConference in Milan in November about co-production in public services. Italy needs a lot discussions and research about this topic. I invite you and the other group members to join my group if you are interested in coming in Milan and participate in the event.
I am part of a company called Core Buiness Design that delivers co-creation and innovation training in the UK and also deliverd a Sustainable Business by Design programme in the South West last hear and know how hard it is to get good case studies. I believe this is due to the fact that public sector do not engage with co-creation either in-house or outside with the community. However, one case study we refer to is from the Design Council. http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/insight/growth/public-serv...

Design thinking and design theory is at the heart of co-creation but breaking down barriers and remaining business savvy in management of co-creation is essential. Co-creation at times can be a battle between old school and new school.

But sometimes what looks like co-creation in public sector can sometimes be a ploy to get communities to deliver services that public sector should be delivering so the public sector have to select what they co-create about. Or else they savvy public will know that the co-creation exercise is to pass the buck. Perhaps, brand perception plays a role here.


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