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A New Approach to Generating Ideas Faster and Putting Them into Action --Rob Marzulli, associate director, Communications Strategy and Editorial, The SPI Group.

How do five strangers build a better wallet in three hours?
They co-create.

At the March IABC/NJ event participants learned how to co-create from an expert, Pinaki Kathiari, chief executive officer of Local Wisdom, a digital design, development and content production firm. I attended the event with about 20 other communicators.

Co-creating is when a team improves a product or idea. This process helps you generate ideas faster, refine them and try them out. Pinaki explained seven Dos and Don’ts of co-creation. Participants broke out into four creative groups and put these principles to use by trying to build a better wallet.

To start, a team should bring the right people together. That means including people with diverse perspectives who have a strong working relationship with each other.

To build that rapport, every member of the four creative teams reviewed a chart of personality types, picked two that best characterized him/her and explained that choice to his/her team mates. This exercise helped each team learn about their colleagues. It’s also intended to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinion.

Create an Inspired Vision
Another principle Pinaki spoke about was creating an inspired vision among team members. Doing this requires the creative team to know their customer and his/her pain points. The team leader should communicate that vision to help the customer in a memorable way. Think of Steve Jobs.

For example, while my team didn’t have a leader, we followed through on this principle by asking a colleague to be our customer. Bob volunteered and showed us his “George Costanza” wallet — bursting with cards and receipts. We asked Bob how his wallet could be better. He said its thickness made the wallet uncomfortable to carry. Sometimes it slipped out of his pocket.

Don’t be Afraid to Fail Fast
Fail fast, fail cheap, succeed sooner was another principle Pinaki explained. In a nutshell, you need to get your ideas out in an actionable way and see what happens.
Using felt, Velcro and construction paper, my team designed a prototype wallet. We zeroed in on Bob’s concerns by making it modular. Bob only carried the section he needed. We put treads on the outside to prevent it from slipping out of his pocket. Other teams created a wallet where the customer’s driver’s license popped up, making is easier to show ID; a third wallet hung from the customer’s neck.

Following Pinaki’s principles helped us develop ideas, visualize them and make a prototype. As a communicator who needs to deliver solutions at an increasingly faster pace, co-creation is a great tool to get the job done. What approach does your team take to co-create? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Rob Marzulli, associate director, Communications Strategy and Editorial, The SPI Group.

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