Last week I spoke at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School as part of a two-stage series on co-creation we do every year.

My three hour session with 40 MBA students was only ever going to be a teaser to some of the key methodologies we apply as part of our co-creation approach – a process that we implement usually over a 4-6 week period. Still, we were able to experience some of the gamification, rapid prototyping and immersive elements we bring to the creative stages of the process, as well as evidence the importance of mixing individual thinking through crowd sourcing with group thinking via more co-creative skills.

Yet one of the most important aspects of co-creation we explored that is often unappreciated is that, if applied properly, it is a fantastically robust and exploratory form of qualitative research.

Our inverted co-creation process helps us to move from tantalising observations, intriguing themes and territories to genuine captivating insight while always staying true to that insight and constantly validating it through every stage. It is this part of the lecture that students found the most stimulating and challenging and where I think they learnt the most.

From an insight perspective they left with a good understanding of how to apply a simple process that helped them in three critical ways :

  • Move from what were really just observations to crafting genuine insight
  • Understand the importance of relentlessly asking “Why” – why do people do or act in the way they do
  • Evaluate the underlying truth about needs, wants and attitudes that drives behaviour they have seen

Insight has a “because” in it…

Better understanding consumers’ emotional drivers as well as improving the quality and shaping of social ideas before the quantitative testing stage is becoming a key focus for clients. My blog 2012 through the lens of client needs points out that too much blind reliance on testing things to death has seen some of the “magic” and “creativity” in marketing lose out to the “logic”. Last Thursday, with the help of a small cohort of MBA students, was a good lesson in how to redress this balance.

For further reading, here are a few slides we presented to the MBA students on the three step process of Insight Generation.