From Organizing for Innovation to Innovating for Organization: Co-design in Organizations

Amongst the plethora of methods that have been developed over the years to involve users, suppliers, buyers or other stakeholders in the design of new objects, co-design has been advertised as a way to generate innovation in a more efficient and more inclusive manner. Yet, empirical evidence that demonstrates its innovativeness is still hard to come by. Moreover, the fact that co-design workshops are gatherings of participants with little design credentials and often no prior relationships raises serious doubts on its potential to generate novelty. In this paper, we study the contextual elements of 21 workshops in order to better understand what codesign really yields in terms of design outputs and relational outcomes. Our data suggest that co-design emerges in crisis situations and that it is best used as a two-time intervention. We also suggest using collaborative design activities as a way to bring about change through innovation. Results also point out to a sequence in which initial weak ties are strengthened by design, which in turns can lead to new objects to be designed by strong collectives. As a consequence, we have advised organizations to tackle internal or network malfunctions through innovation first, rather than addressing innovation issues only once the collective has reached collaboration maturity.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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