We use design thinking and co-creation when we need to find innovative solutions that also bring people together. It’s a method for problem-solving and creativity that leans heavily on collaboration and user-centeredness.
Take these three stories, from three different spaces:
- In a city: A municipality (District of North Vancouver) was struggling to increase citizen engagement around key decisions — they kept seeing limited participation in town halls. Through a series of workshops and research steps, they realized they needed to meet citizens where they are: online. They developed a new way to create a digital town hall for community engagement, which subsequently became its own standalone product.
- In an organization: A non-profit was struggling with behind-the-scenes leadership and cultural challenges, and then…the key leader resigned. Instead of simply rehiring a new leader into the same cultural drama, the organization paused. They invited their entire membership to be part of a co-creation process in which they revisited their mission, vision and values. It changed the community, and helped create healthier conditions for deliberate growth.
- In a country: The country of Mauritius was struggling economically. The instinctive response would have been to (again) stimulate existing industries. Instead, they brought key leaders together to reimagine new assets and opportunities, and realized they hadn’t been tapping their biggest asset: their oceans. This breakthrough led to the creation of a whole new industry of tidal energy.
Each of these stories illustrate the power and potential of a co-creative design thinking process: breakthrough solutions emerge through listening to a community’s needs, and exploring new possibilities. It’s that pause, when you see a problem, where we face a choice: do we act into the same-old habitual responses, or do we bring people together, and together explore unknown, alternative solutions?
When we find ourselves in situations where we need new ways of thinking, and we are ready to bring people along with us, these are the times that give us an opportunity to use a design thinking approach to co-creative problem solving. It’s a chance to bring people with us through a framework of leading, listening and innovating, to see if we can unstick our challenges.
What challenges are you facing that seem like mere problems, but can be turned into opportunities? Where are your overlooked assets, and your under-served communities?
For moments like this, we’ve taken some of the principles we follow for co-creation and collaborative leadership, and adapted them to a helpful download: Domain7’s Design Thinking Canvas. This tool provides a guide to the design thinking framework, with a tilt towards co-creation.