I just read The Power of Co-Creation, a reference book gathering various example of how companies used strategies of co-creation to innovate, manage or get products to the market. I was offered this book by eYeka, the company in which I’m currently doing an internship, and I really enjoyed reading it. Here are some impressions as well as interesting examples – other than Starbucks, Nike or Apple !
From 2000 to 2004, C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy wrote a series of articles about the benefits of collaborative processes for companies. These thoughts were all gathered in a book at Harvard Business School Press called The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value With Customers, which remains one of the most influential management books of our young century. The present book was published in 2010 and has not been translated yet (to my knowledge). After the passing of C.K. Prahalad, this collection of cases was co-authored by Francis Gouillart, who also blogs under FrancisGouillart.com.
You will find a dynamic illustration of the book’s content by clicking on the following pearl:
The book is divided into two parts: one dedicated to value co-creation and the other one to management co-creation. As we would have expected, the authors lay out best practices like Nike, Dell or Lego to illustrate how companies can engage customers in company processes. But I also liked other less discussed examples like:
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who implicated a dedicated community of men and women to support the developement and launch of its weight-loss pill Alli in 2007. Because the drug would only be efficient if people really changed their behavior (diet, exercise etc.), “GSK [knew that] it had to build a customer base for whom the drug worked […] because word-of-mouth and peer-to-peer recommendations have such influence in this product category“. After having gathered important insights from a First Team of customers, GSK set up a dedicated website to support to members of a larger community of customers, and eventually the drug was a commercial success.
A key to Alli’s success was that GSK was able to connect with the ‘world of weight loss’ from the user’s perspective (Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace)
- ITC, an Indian conglomerate with multiple activities, started setting up an entire social ecosystem around its agrobusiness activity in rural India in 2000. The goal was to improve its position on the global commodities export market, and it proceeded at several levels to co-create the e-Choupal initiative. Created in 2000, this program created several engagement platforms (not only web-based platforms, but also kiosks and storing facilities) for farmers to facilitate business with ITC. This enhances revenue and market knowledge, thanks to insights and data provided by the new system.
- Caja Navarra (CAN) is a Spanish savings bank designed to support local communities through social investments. In 2004, CEO Entique Goni changed to way these investments where decided because he designed a platform that allowed customers to decide where to allocate resources – not the bank’s board. The result was that the top 5 investment categories were completely reordered : customers ranked disability & care first while the bank had previously chosen sport, leisure and welfare as top investment. Other initiatives followed making CAN moke transparent and even “giving customers a degree of insight into and control over CAN’s social investment“.
This is a testament to the power of the new world of work and inclusionism (James Gardner, head of innovation and research and Lloyds TSB)
There are a lot more examples stated in the book, I would even say that it sometimes comes too close to a catalog… However, the book is very well-structured and clearly indicates how “co-creation” (they did some really good branding there !) benefits all these companies. I think I will detail some other examples later on the blog, especially because Ramaswamy & Gouillart spend quite some time on French companies : Prédica (Crédit Agricole) and La Poste. Thanks for reading to this point already, and stay tuned !