Earlier this month, the People’s Voice Media team were in Utrecht for the annual CoSIE partner meeting and a seminar all about co-creation. Read on to find out more about what they go up to…

The meeting kicked-off with jam-packed seminar that combined academic research, real-world case studies and practical sessions revolving around ways of involving people in the creating and running of public services. Our team worked with some of the CoSIE partners to deliver a workshop that asked people to question the value of ‘co-creation’ to different scenarios and whether or not we should always co-create. The session provoked attendees to think about their own personal value-system when it came to co-creation.

Specifically, an activity in which attendees had to place different engagement techniques on a spectrum between ‘consultation’ and ‘co-creation’ got the room buzzing. For some, focus groups were more a consultation tool but for others, who had rejigged their format, focus groups provided a key mechanism for them to co-create through… all interesting stuff. The activity moved people away from thinking there was a ‘five star’ version of co-creation ready packaged and instead think about the context of the co-creation more deeply. What the learning from the CoSIE project suggests is that co-creation DOES add real value (on different levels) to the design, creation and running of public services BUT finding the places to apply it and thinking about how you are applying it are key. Most of all, it is important to avoid co-creation tokenism! Click here for a great tongue-in-cheek blog of the things to avoid when co-producing from our partner in crime – Cat Duncan-Rees.

Spurred on by the seminar’s discussions, the CoSIE partners got their heads down into working on their own project. The first day of the meeting saw the delivery of internal trainings for the forthcoming summative knowledge exchanges. These events will support the co-evaluation of the pilots and extract the key learnings from the project. Our team was on hand to train partners in dialogue interviewing techniques to support the capturing of reflections from stakeholders. We also equipped the national teams with the skills to incorporate story dialogue techniques into these exchanges. Other training revolved around data curation and visualisation, and a first look at the new Living Labs tool!

From this, we turned our attentions to some of the key outputs of the project – the roadmap and the MOOC. Combining the ideas and learnings of a large consortium into these products isn’t an easy task, but the work packages leaders had it all in hand. The roadmap is taking the format of a metro line, with different stops along the way that people can get on and off at. This tries to address one of the problems people have been outlining about co-creation processes – they are not necessarily linear. Therefore, the multi-directionality of a metro map may just provide the answer – we are looking forward to seeing what is produced and we will update you on it later in the year!

What we took away from this year’s meeting was that at its core co-creation is a power – or to be more specific, the redistribution of power and the interplay of power dynamics. This got us thinking about all kinds of things such as what language you use, questioning of your own perspective, hidden hierarchies and things like that. This food for thought is what we will take away with us and begin to unpick within our own practice and work.

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