QRCA Views Magazine, Fall 2018

50 QRCA VIEWS FALL 2018 www.qrca.org The 7 Principles of Complete Co-Creation, by Stefanie Jansen and Maarten Pieters, BIS Publishers, 2017 Reviewed by Caryn Goldsmith n Goldsmith Strategic Services n Los Angeles, CA n caryn@goldsmithstrategicservices.com n BOOK REVIEWS n T he term co-creation is suddenly everywhere, even though co-creation has been a long-used marketing/ marketing research tool. In The 7 Principles of Complete Co-Creation, Stefanie Jansen and Maarten Pieters provide an in-depth exploration of what they term “complete co-creation.” The book is well written, and chock full of co-creation case studies and examples. It provides a detailed rationale of why “complete co-creation” is needed, cou- pled with how-tos that offer step-by-step guidance for employing it. The primary target appears to be client-side organiza- tions. While qualitative researchers who employ co-creation techniques may not be in need of an entire book to convince them that co-creation is important, the book provides some interesting nuggets that could elevate their practice. As a former agency account planner and current qualitative research consul- tant, I feel the idea of the consumer/end user being a key player in all stages of development (product, service, customer experience, branding communication, etc.) is a given. But in reality, there are organizations that don’t value marketing research or direct consumer input. This book makes the argument for why those organizations will be increasingly left behind in a world where end users expect to be actively engaged with brands. To start, Jansen and Pieters argue that consumers/end users should be present in all stages of a set assignment. Simple enough idea, but they go beyond this and argue that we can connect with cus- tomers and derive customer insights from those interactions with the ulti- mate goal to co-create products, ser- vices, customer experiences and market- ing programs. In addition, they argue that co-creation with end users will require client organizations to restruc- ture themselves to support those new offerings, reflecting a co-ownership of ideas. This translates into a compact between a company and its end users, which in turn leads to increased user loyalty and engagement. The tables/graphics in each chapter are terrific thought-starters. One table detail- ing when “complete co-creation” will work and when it won’t got me thinking about the clients I’m serving and why some of them are more open to innova- tion while others are not. Central to the idea of “complete co- creation” is the fact that the organization must have a capable co-creator on staff or be willing to bring one in from the out- side. More than that, and a main tenet of the book, is that culturally an organization must be ready to cede some of its power to end users in order for any of these endeavors to work. In my view, internal silos (a common organizational structure) can’t be posturing for power while end users are talking and no one is listening. So, on the premise that some end-user involvement is better than no involve- ment, there are many ideas in the book that might be used to heighten the current level of end-user engagement. For instance, many clients have advisory councils, often made up of key target con- sumers (especially in B2B). As I was read- ing, I got the idea I should meet potential council members in their homes/offices for an on-site contextual visit before they are asked to join a council. I feel as though I’d be a much better council facilitator if I could anchor feedback in this way. Not a central idea of “complete co-creation” but a spark of an idea I can use. I also loved the authors’ “five Fs to complete co-creation”: Founding, Finding, Forming, Fine-tuning, and Following-up. A great refresher, the authors highlight what’s involved in each step and what cues the go/no-go deci- sions. I can envision pulling out this graphic and sharing it with a client, saying, “We’re here and to get there, our next step is this...” In addition to pulling this book off my shelf to look for an example or case history to use with a client when the need arises, I can also see gifting this book to a client who is working in a culture that needs to involve end users more consistently in their development processes but doesn’t know how. It may help them to evolve their organization. In short, this book offers a useful perspective on how to partner with con- sumers/end users for optimal market- place success. “THE KEY SHIFT DRIVING THE TRAN- SITION FROM THE POWER PARADIGM TO THE CO-CREATION PARADIGM IS THE PROGRESSIVE OPENING UP OF ORGANIZATIONS. THIS REFLECTS BOTH AN INTENSIFYING INTERNAL MOTI- VATION AS WELL AS AN INCREASING EXTERNAL PRESSURE TO BE HONEST AND TRANSPARENT ABOUT ORGANI- ZATIONAL PROCEDURES AND DECI- SION-MAKING PROCESSES.” — BOOK EXCERPT