On an expedition in the US: Why open innovation and participatory processes stumble or succeed?

This year Demos Helsinki’s Head of Co-creation Outi Kuittinen visits the New School and Harvard as a Fulbright Scholar to explore how open innovation and participatory processes stumble or succeed. And will bring you the insights.

Co-creation, open and participatory processes for innovating services and for planning policies are slowly becoming more of a rule than an exception. And this is great news. More voices are heard, highly specialized silos of the industrial era are broken, there is hope for more holistic solution for wicked problems. There is a promise of a more transparent and democratic governance or of companies that successfully navigate in their ever-changing environment.

But as the co-creative processes proliferate, also frustration seems to increase. Stakeholders feel they put a lot of time in the process but outcomes do not differ significantly from the business as usual. Or we see that innovative outcomes do not get implemented. We might question who was and was not invited to participate. And for the initiators the processes often turn out to be surprisingly laborious and challenging. The disappointment and skepticism loom over the big promises of co-creation and participation.

Therefore I want to drill deeper and understand what these processes really are about and where their problems spring up. I argue that the essence of co-creation is not about more people and stakeholders telling their views to help make better things, strategies or policies. Its essence is about creating change, breaking the existing practices of decision-making and transforming the perception of each other’s roles and relationship. This is the angle from which during this fall and spring I will be examining why these processes are so challenging and so valuable. I also aim to provide practical insight into how to design and lead them successfully. I have the wonderful opportunity to work on these questions as a Fulbright visiting scholar at Parsons DESIS Lab at the New School and Education Redesign Lab at Harvard drawing from their research, education and project work.

I will share my thoughts and findings with you in blog posts and presentations along the way, and warmly welcome your comments and questions through Facebook, Twitter or email.

Outi Kuittinen is a Head of Co-creation at Demos Helsinki think tank and a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at Parsons DESIS Lab, the New School, New York and at Education Redesign The Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Email: outi.kuittinen(a)demoshelsinki.fi
Twitter: @outikookoo https://twitter.com/Outikookoo
Demos Helsinki Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DemosHelsinki/