Co-Create is an evolution of our Going Naked format, which has been successfully employed by Sainsbury’s and British Land. It draws on the theory of the Wisdom of Crowds, and gives organisations a unique way of drawing up strategy with their key stakeholders and peers.
What problem does it solve?
Many companies still rely on a mixture of internal sustainability experts and external advisors to draw up their sustainability strategies. Once drawn up, they embark on an engagement process with their stakeholders. And for the same reason that 70% of change management programmes fail, many of these programmes fail to influence the decision-makers within the organisation.
We believe there are two reasons why they fail. Firstly, many in the organisation feel disenfranchised from the creation of the strategy, considering it to be the product of a small group of experts who may not share the same concerns. A strong climate focus, for example, may not resonate with the broader stakeholder group.
The second reason relates to the fast-changing nature of these issues, and the difficulty in making confident decisions. An organisation might come up with an effective carbon reduction strategy, but then find itself on the front page of a newspaper for aggressive tax avoidance. The latter may have a far greater impact on its brand value. How does a small group of experts weigh the importance of these issues against each other?
Our Co-Create format allows organisations to efficiently engage large stakeholder groups in the drawing up of their strategy, including employees, customers, investors and suppliers as well as select groups of peers. This diverse crowd acts as a proxy for society whilst also having a detailed understanding of the organisation and the possible solutions. And whilst management draws up the eventual strategy, it does so with the benefit of the suggestions of stakeholders and an understanding of what is important to them.
"The chance to get feedback from 100 of our peers and relevant experts was too good to resist. Going Naked has been very useful for us - it has given us some great new insights and we would definitely recommend it to others". - Adrian Penfold, Head of Planning & CR, British Land.
How Co-Create works
In many business decisions an expert will beat a crowd’s decision. Most companies would, for example, prefer a marketing strategy drawn up by an expert than a crowd of diverse minds. But when it comes to connecting with society, where a diverse group of social and environmental issues need to be understood, the wisdom of the crowd should generate a better outcome. Our experience suggests that a diverse crowd of 150-300 people produces the best results.
The key is having a clear objective, and determining 6-10 “pillars” that could generate a successful outcome, which are rated and reviewed by the crowd. Through an online appraisal, a crowd of 150 people will generate the crucial gap analysis, and write around 600 suggestions and comments that the management team can draw on for their strategy.
It works for the same reason that in the popular TV programme “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, the audience gets the right answer 91% of the time, whilst the friend – typically the most learned person the contestent knows – has a 65% success rate.
In 2012, Sainsbury’s wanted to have their 20x20 Sustainability Plan reviewed by its peers – sustainability experts across all sectors of the economy – and asked The Crowd (then called Green Mondays) to undertake the process. Using our first iteration of our Crowd Consulting format, 155 people spent an average of 45 minutes online before an event where CEO Justin King led the reply to 220 people. The event was the lead item in the Guardian Business section, with the headline “Sainsbury's boss welcomes grilling on green values and ambitions".
"Going Naked was definitely a risk worth taking. By taking the plunge and sharing our strategy with the crowd, we not only gained useful advice and insight - we also found the courage to take the debate public". - Alex Cole, Director, External Affairs, Sainsburys.
The Wisdom of the Crowd informed Sainsbury’s that its biggest gap was in how it was engaging its customers on sustainability issues. As a result, Sainsbury’s commissioned market research that found 68% of its customers cared about these issues, and it launched its high profile “Value of Values” campaign. Sainsbury’s is still making in- store changes on the back of this, and Mike Coupe, the new CEO updated its peer group at The Crowd Forum on the 8th June 2015. You can see Mike's keynote speech from that event here.
To find out more about Co-Create, please contact us.