Bookcase: The Power of Co-creation

• By Venkat Ramaswamy & Francis Gouillart
• Free Press
• RRP$38.99

As management buzz words go, “co-creation” is not the catchiest. It’s bit of head-scratcher. But, as the saying goes, you can’t always tell book by its cover.
The term, co-creation, was originally coined by Venkat Ramaswamy and the late CK Prahalad when they were researching their co-authored best seller, The Future of Competition, back in early 2000.
Subsequently Ramaswamy, high-profile professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, teamed up with Francis Gouillart to study and investigate co-creation more deeply and set up the Experience Co-creation Partnership. Their research findings are, they believe, “groundbreaking” and as consequence they have unearthed whole new business model which “boosts growth, productivity and profits”.
Co-creation is about tapping the power of communications technologies to build “engagement platforms” that draw an organisation’s stakeholders, particularly its customers, into the product and service innovation, marketing, distribution, and organisational performance processes. It offers new “business paradigm” that is in sync with today’s connected and networked world.
The authors draw on the experiences of raft of global enterprises such as Nike, Starbucks, LEGO, Apple and Dell to make their case. Their studies illustrate how co-creation practices which engage all stakeholders in the value creation process of business, enrich everyone.
The book is constructed in two parts. The first focuses on value co-creation – on how to become co-creative enterprise, explaining the principle and how it works, why it stimulates innovation, how networks work for people and enterprises, how to build social ecosystems and how to design the critically important engagement platforms.
The second part, of particular interest to managers and directors, is all about organisational transformation, leading the co-creative enterprise, going beyond business process to focus on co-creative engagement, opening up strategy and “co-creating institutional change”.
Co-creation is the authors’ answer to the next iteration of enterprise. Society is, they claim, witnessing structural change in the relationship between institutions and individuals. Co-creation is, therefore, about organisational democracy and chance to re-invent, or at least refurbish, the tarnished image of old style capitalism.
This is an important book which directors and managers who think about the future of enterprise should read.

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