During a consulting career spanning more than three decades, I have assisted global and national companies, government bodies, arts organisations, charities, social enterprises and professional services firms.
My way of working is collaborative and methodology neutral. Each co‑creation process is custom designed to meet the unique requirements of the particular client assignment.
Some past consulting assignments
I created and managed an accelerated innovation programme involving 100 consumers and a large, diverse group of McCain people. My collaborator on this project was Jeffrey Hyman, who opened the original Pret a Manger shop and is now the chairman of Food & Drink Innovation Network.
Some McCain people review new product concepts informed by unmoderated conversations that took place among consumers the previous evening. The same consumers returned a little later to evaluate the most promising concepts and suggest improvements.
Working alongside Shell’s GameChanger and Water-to-Value teams, I designed and facilitated Greening the Desert, a two day innovation workshop in which academics from Imperial College (UK) and Wageningen University (Netherlands) proposed imaginative ways of creating value from the contaminated water that accompanies oil as it comes out of the ground.
The programme for the first day of the workshop, drawn by graphic facilitator Don Braisby (not the man in the photo).
European Commission | Directorate General Information Society (now DG Connect)
I orchestrated five large-scale workshops in which academics and industry experts helped DG Information Society identity research priorities for the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme.
A self-facilitated sub-group at work during Workshop 5.
Established in 1962, Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual community, education centre and ecovillage located in the north of Scotland.
At the invitation of the governing body, I undertook a three month consulting residency to help the foundation sharpen its business skills.
In parallel and working without a brief, I urged foundation members to discover their collective purpose. This under-the-radar work bore fruit, as you can see in the photo below. The location is the old dining room at The Park.
More than two decades later, the essence of the foundation’s purpose remains the same:
The Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual community, ecovillage and an international centre for holistic education, helping to unfold a new human consciousness and create a positive and sustainable future.
The examples featured here are included in the pdf document Leith Brief: Co‑creation, along with short descriptions of co-creation assignments undertaken for Association of Greater Manchester Authorities¹, Bristol Usability Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Head for Arts, Numico¹, Petroleum Development Oman, Shell Learning Centre, and Social Capital Markets.
¹ with Jean-Marc Le Tissier
Some terms, concepts and tools I invented
I coined this term because no suitable alternative existed. The most common types of value generator are products, services, facilities and experiences. The Cadbury’s Flake I’m holding here is an example of a value generator:
The converse of value, anti-value is more than dissatisfaction. It manifests as an experience of physical pain or emotional upset arising from a poorly designed or malfunctioning value generator, or from the denial of previously received (and possibly taken for granted) value.
Increasingly, collective anti-value is being returned to its perpetrators in the form of badwill.
The V-Spec ecosystem value specification framework enables those embarking on an innovation or change endeavour to examine the value requirements of each constituent of the enterprise ecosystem—such as customers, suppliers and investors—and determine what existing value must be preserved, what new value might be created, and what anti-value needs to be eliminated.
The completed V-Spec forms part of the creative brief for the innovation or change endeavour.
The process of specifying ecosystem value is not a form-filling exercise, but a searching enquiry.
Ecosystem Value Maximisation
First, my definition of an enterprise ecosystem:
The network of organisations that affect, and are affected by directly or indirectly, the actions of the enterprise.
An enterprise ecosystem differs from a stakeholder system in that it includes entities not generally viewed as stakeholder groups, such as anti-clients (disaffected former customers and non-customers), criminals (part of the ecosystem of a police force), activist groups (for example, Occupy, part of the ecosystem of a global bank), and competitors (the failure of a business can have a devastating effect on other businesses operating in the same sector).
Why declare a world-enriching purpose and seek to create maximum value for every constituent of the enterprise ecosystem?
|Employees are aligned and inspired to give of their best, and their work has focus, purpose and meaning.|
|Corporate purpose is translated into value-generating action.|
|Enhanced reputation, increased goodwill, more productive relationships.|
|Customers receive exemplary service.|
|Innovation and change work produces breakthrough results.|
|The best talent is attracted and retained.|
|A generative culture emerges, focused on realising the enterprise’s vision and fulfilling its purpose.|
|Competitive advantage is boosted.|
|Corporate social responsibility and sustainability become everyone’s day-to-day work.|
|Brand differentiation and loyalty are strengthened.|
|Shareholder value increases.|
|The future of the enterprise is made more secure.|
A practising innovator as well as a consultant
Some of the businesses I created
A start-up that produced and marketed an erotic wish fulfilment game for adventurous couples.
The Innovation Agency
A company based in Brighton, UK, that helped global corporates, government organisations and non-profits use the principles and practices of co-creation to bring forth groundbreaking products, services, facilities and experiences.
While living in Amsterdam in the mid 1990s, I created CLGI to help clients address issues of strategy, innovation and organisation development through Open Space Technology, Real Time Strategic Change, Future Search and other ‘whole system’ approaches.
CLGI was a strong advocate of co-creation, a term I first encountered in the Building Shared Vision chapter of The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (Peter M. Senge et al, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1994).
Leith & Price
With offices in central London and 35 employees, Leith & Price was a pioneering business development consultancy serving the advertising and marketing industry.
Our clients were advertising agencies, marketing services firms, design consultancies, TV companies and publishers of newspapers and magazines.
The company’s main asset was a unique database of advertisers, brands and advertising agencies.
After my departure from Leith & Price, the database had several owners including Pearson, the parent of the company that publishes the Financial Times. The database is now owned by BRAD Insight, part of Top Right Group (formerly EMAP).
Bristol, United Kingdom.
Enriching the world: is it good business practice?
This is the title of a five minute talk I gave at Ignite Bristol (“Enlighten us, but make it quick”), with slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.
I have heard many people over many years try to persuade die-hard financial-only driven business people that ‘being good’ is also good business. But this talk proves the point better, faster and with better evidence than I have ever heard.
Paul Miller, CEO and founder, Digital Workplace Group
I have been helping people co‑create the new, in a wide range of settings and for many different purposes, since the 1980s.
Co-creation is a collaborative way of working in which all necessary ecosystem members (see V‑Spec above) work together on an equal footing to bring forth a mutually beneficial result.
This could be a new product, service, facility or experience, a new vision, business model or strategy, a new way of working, a generative organisational culture, a solution to a complex problem involving diverse stakeholders, or just about anything.
Co-creation is not a new idea. Without it, there would be no Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, no Lennon and McCartney songs, and none of the Mike Leigh plays and films.
People working in such fields as business strategy, organisation development and multi-agency collaboration¹ were employing the principles and practices of co-creation many years before the word was appropriated by vendors of crowdsourcing software.
¹ Example: In 1990, 48 diverse water stakeholders met to tackle the issue of water quality in the Upper Colorado river basin. Read the story.
Creating Collaborative Gatherings Using Large Group Interventions, by Jack Martin Leith
This forms Chapter 28 of the Gower Handbook of Training and Development. Although I wrote the chapter in 1999, it still feels quite fresh.
Co-creation: New Pathways to Value
An outstanding overview of customer co-creation, researched and written by Thorsten Roser, Alain Samson, Patrick Humphreys and Eidi Cruz-Valdivieso.
Contents: Introduction (by Nick Coates); Summary; Contexts; Definitions; Origins; Benefits; Success; Future challenges.
Watch a five minute animated presentation of the Promise Communispace Manifesto. I think you’ll find it makes a compelling case for customer co-creation.
Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing
These are some of the foundational premises of Service-Dominant Logic:
- The customer is always a co-creator of value.
- The enterprise cannot deliver value, but only offer value propositions.
- Value is always uniquely and phenomenologically determined by the beneficiary.
Jack Martin Leith
Bristol, United Kingdom
Tel: 07582 598548 (+44 7582 598548)