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Contexts of Co-creation: Designing with System Stakeholders

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Systemic Design

Part of the book series: Translational Systems Sciences ((TSS,volume 8))

Abstract

The concept of co-creation includes a wide range of participatory practices for design and decision making with stakeholders and users. Generally co-creation refers to a style of design or business practice characterized by facilitated participation in orchestrated multi-stakeholder engagements, such as structured workshops and self-organizing modes of engagement. Co-creation envelopes a wide range of skilled social practices that can considerably inform and enhance the effectiveness of organizational development, collaboration, and positive group outcomes. New modes of co-creation have emerged, evolving from legacy forms of engagement such as participatory design and charrettes and newer forms such as collaboratories, generative design, sprints, and labs. Often sessions are structured by methods that recommend common steps or stages, as in design thinking workshops, and some are explicitly undirected and open. While practices abound, we find almost no research theorizing the effectiveness of these models compared to conventional structures of facilitation. As co-creation approaches have become central to systemic design, service design, and participatory design practices, a practice theory from which models might be selected and modified would offer value to practitioners and the literature. The framework that follows was evolved from and assessed by a practice theory of dialogic design. It is intended to guide the development of principles-based guidelines for co-creation practice, which might methodologically bridge the wide epistemological variances that remain unacknowledged in stakeholder co-creation practice.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This observation is made based on the author’s personal involvement across many group method communities of practice, from the period of research for Handbook of Team Design (1998) and continuing into the latest design thinking practice groups, including international online communities and conference-based communities.

  2. 2.

    Two widely cited discussions, although not systematic reviews, include Mingers and Rosenhead (2004) and Midgley, Cavana, Brocklesby, Foote, Wood, and Ahuriri-Driscoll (2013).

  3. 3.

    Jones (2009) joined this argument by suggesting that systems thinking was not widely adopted because it failed to address the everyday coping practices of managers, not that it failed as a reasoning mode per se. This proposal suggests a blend of systems thinking with design tools might better resolve complex concerns in innovation contexts.

  4. 4.

    The DoSM is extended (in the mathematical sense of a logical continuation of a set) to construct a reference model of the performance of collective design practices, commensurate with science and practice.

  5. 5.

    Institute for 21st Century Agoras, the non-profit organization established to sustain SDD practice and studies with the social purpose of democratic transformation through structured dialogue

  6. 6.

    The seven axioms (and laws of dialogue) are significant in themselves as design propositions for dialogic co-creation and are presented in the Framework section.

  7. 7.

    Institute for 21st Century Agoras is a non-profit organization established by Alexander Christakis and a core group of senior practitioners and scholars dedicated to the development of democratic practices based on dialogic design science.

  8. 8.

    The primary software systems for SDD include Cogniscope 3 and logosofia. Emerging platforms such as Idea Prism (Future Worlds Centre) are being developed for large-scale remote participation. The Interpretive Structural Modelling algorithm is technically a public domain routine but is developed and maintained within the practice communities that use it regularly, inclusive of the development teams for the SDD software.

  9. 9.

    Open IDEO (openideo.com) provides resources for design thinking and co-creation in member-led design challenges, most of which are public sector or community value projects, attesting to the “open” reference in the organization.

  10. 10.

    The seven definitional axioms of dialogic design science had evolved over a decade of practice and reflection and were instantiated as seven axioms in 2012 (with the addition of the final axiom 7). A tradition within the community of practice is to identify the original contributor of the proposal by name, without reference to a specific work but by affirmation.

  11. 11.

    Retroductive inquiry has been known for some time as backcasting and has been used recently in social science work in the dialogic design practice, e.g. Romm, N.R. (2013). Revisiting social dominance theory: Invoking a more retroductively-oriented approach to systemic theorizing. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 26(2), 111–129.

  12. 12.

    Design with Dialogue is a monthly open dialogue series at OCAD University in Toronto, which holds a continuous learning community for organizational and social transformation through design facilitation of dialogic practices. Hosted as a public agora since 2008, the online site is found at http://designwithdialogue.com.

  13. 13.

    Design Kit from IDEO.org http://www.designkit.org provides a set of handbooks, a website, and resources for learning basic designing practices for human-centred design.

  14. 14.

    See Liberating Structures: Lipmanowicz, H., & McCandless, K. (2014). The surprising power of liberating structures: Simple rules to unleash a culture of innovation. Seattle, WA: Liberating Structures Press.

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Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Alexander Christakis and Thomas Flanagan for their reviews, challenging questions, and commentaries that informed and contributed to this article. As with any project larger than a single paper, the ideas in this study will continue in practice and in future discourse. I also express my appreciation for insights contributed in exchanges with Kevin Dye, Jeff Diedrich, and Kirk Weigand.

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Jones, P. (2018). Contexts of Co-creation: Designing with System Stakeholders. In: Jones, P., Kijima, K. (eds) Systemic Design. Translational Systems Sciences, vol 8. Springer, Tokyo. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-4-431-55639-8_1

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