How co-creation can help you innovate faster & better

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Meet open innovation expert Peter Espersen

Peter Espersen is a crowdsourcing and co-creation expert, who sits on jovoto’s Board of Directors. As former Head of Co-Creation for LEGO, he was responsible for building and managing LEGO’s co-creation and digital community.
Peter is a regular speaker on co-creation and crowdsourcing at major global conferences, including Cannes Lions 2015, South by Southwest (SXSW), and the Festival of Media Global. Additionally, Espersen teaches at the ESCP Program in Paris and London, the Bocconi university in Milan, Italy, and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Twitter

Why should brands co-create?

Well the first and obvious reason is to overcome perceptual blindness. And that means that what you as a company can’t understand, you can’t see. Tapping into the crowd gives you the opportunity to work with people who give you an outside-in perspective of what you do, and that can lead to some very exciting new findings.  Twitter

Currently we are in a world where things move faster, things work different. To work with this, you need new tools. And this is one of the tools you can use to innovate, move faster, and also affect change a lot faster.  Twitter

Can the crowd be more effective than in-house teams?

The crowd has that big benefit that it’s bigger. I think Sonnenburg from P&G said that 99.99% of the smartest people in the world don’t work for you. So working with these people will give you the ability to tap into different skill sets, different cultural backgrounds, and a lot of creativity and opportunities that you don’t necessarily have in-house.

99.99% of the smartest people in the world don’t work for you  Twitter

Is voluntary participation important for creative projects?

I think voluntary participation is important, because, first of all, the skill level is key, but also actually acknowledging that people outside of your company are welcome into your processes, are welcomed to be part of the creative process, is something that is extremely strong. And second, it’s a good way of getting co-ownership of your brand, and letting people outside-in get a stake in what you’re doing. And when you do that, it usually creates excitement, it creates marketing pressure, and it also creates sales.  Twitter

How important is it for companies to drop their guard when engaging with the crowd?

When you engage the crowd, there is a number of different things you really need to think through beforehand. First of all, you need to have a clear purpose and mission with what you’re doing. You need to make sure that what you’re asking the crowd to deliver is actually something you can implement or absorb as a company. You need to set-up these very, very clear expectations, have rules of engagement with the crowd, and make sure not to overpromise and underdeliver. You need to make sure that the things you’re actually doing make sense, both for them and for you, and actively create a win-win.  Twitter

Make sure not to overpromise and underdeliver

Which trends do you think we will see in the future?

I think there’s a lot of ways where we’re going to see the crowd being employed in the future. One of the newest things I’ve seen is citizen science, where you use the crowd to work actively on problems in the healthcare sector. A good example is Sebastian Seung’s connectome project, where he uses the crowd to actually map the human connectome and thereby overcome a task that would take many, many, many years to do by scientists. So he’s actually gamified it – made it almost into a computer game – where people can actually help and create value.  Twitter

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Katharina Brendel

Kat (she/her) is a storytelling and podcasting strategist. After studying journalism, she gained a boatload of marketing experience around the world (including at jovoto!) and co-founded CoWomen. Today, she collaborates with unheard voices to find, own, and spread their story through a podcast & beyond.