Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cocreation is a sham

Yes, cocreation is a sham.  Often enough, co-design is no better.

Cocreation is a buzzword that implies inclusive, user/community driven creation, but is code for getting input from potential participants during a construction process.

Have you ever heard cocreation used for something that's actually community driven?  That's not called cocreation, because we already have words for it.  It is called 'people doing stuff (together)'.  We only call it 'cocreation' when we need to give it a process name that slots it into our top-down methodologies.

The typical story of cocreation goes something like this:
A.  "Hey, let's build a cool thing!"
B.  "Yes! But wait, that wouldn't be our thing, what you're talking about is a community thing, it needs to be community owned and driven."
A.  "Oh, right, so we need to cocreate it?"
B.  "That's brilliant, we should cocreate it and it's totally a community owned thing!"

It is probably better late than never, to admit I'm being polemic.  'Good' cocreation happens out there.  And even 'bad' cocreation isn't malicious, normally.

But 'cocreating' isn't enough - it isn't simple, it isn't easy, and it can't be approached from the same top-down paradigm that most of us are used to.

Next time cocreation comes up, take a step back.  Is the method being inserted into an otherwise top-down approach? (If you're not sure of the answer, it's yes. If you're sure the answer is no, but you can't provide a solid argument for it, the answer is still yes.)

You're probably best just admitting, and being aware, that you're the real drivers of your cocreation process.

If you actually want something to be owned and driven by the community, you're lucky enough to have come across a warning flag.

What to do next?
I don't know.  That's the hard question.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A crazy month in Melbourne

I've just arrived back in Adelaide after a crazy month in Melbourne.  Lots of thoughts in the head, so much learnt - I still haven't been able to process it to understand what I've learnt, but so much changed that I'm sure it was a lot....

Over the month with the Collaboratory my approach changed drastically.  Initially the plan was to set the wheels in motion, to meet a self-imposed deadline to design and deliver the Collaboratory as a platform, a community infrastructure, a self-governing collective.  It moved by degrees from 'plans and actions' to do this, to how to focus on getting members engaged, and ended in a completely different space - not building the Collaboratory at all, but just seeding current members to act, to fulfil their own goals for getting involved, and collaborating on projects.  My philosophy for 'building a community' changed completely!

If you're curious in the meantime, I've posted the thoughts I had on next steps for the Collab following an exciting group discussion last Thursday.  It's a bit rough, long/ranty and Collab specific but I think hits how the main points are different to my earlier approach.

One exciting, scary realisation was that what I want to do is hard.  Not just that it is challenging - but that there is no rule book.  I got to mix with a load of people in Melbourne who have been working on collaborative networks and communities for a while, and in the back of my mind, I expected people to pop up and provide the answers.  But everyone had far more questions than answers.

Not having that comfort is scary. But I learnt that dedicating time to building things and learning from experience is actually worthwhile - both personally and socially.  That's pretty friggen exciting.

Monday, August 6, 2012

6 month update on 2012 plans and resolutions

I have at least five draft blog posts almost ready to go, and a couple of months of fairly dramatic developments to write about.... I plan to make headway on some of these later this month.

In the meantime, I've done a 6 month review of my plans/resolutions for 2012.  They are just rough notes, not pretty enough to post here - but if you want to follow through I have posted them elsewhere.

The synopsis is that the year has not gone 'according to plan', but that it has been pretty fantastic regardless.  I just noticed that I never put specific or practical things into my plans (like 'get a job')... which might explain why I haven't done them yet.

I am in no way suggesting the notes are worth reading, but I couldn't think of a reason not to post them - so in the interests of radical, indiscriminate openness, I have!  I'd be interested to hear if this provokes any thoughts on the boundaries of sharing. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Work: Exchange > Shared value > Systemic value

Our inhuman paradigm for employment narrows the focus on the value opportunities from work.  Our drive for efficiency is inefficient by neglecting the unseen.

Working with the Collaboratory in Melbourne, I've been involved in working on (thinking about and designing) collaboration and 'work' relationships that are completely different to the simplistic arrangements I am used to.

You know the ones - you get paid to turn up at a workplace for a period of time and process the abstract outputs of an elaborate performance system - i.e. do work in exchange for money.  In these situations, efficiency is the overarching goal.

What that does is pit your core activity, the 'work' you are paid for, against other sources of value.  Development and learning are performed through 'training' - a separate activity, with its own budget or allocation, for which you take time out of your 'work'.  Same as 'innovation' - well no, typically you don't take time out for it, and there's no budget. But the dominant way of understanding innovation is as a process distinct from work.  And of course there are breaks, and leisure - actually doing what you want to.  For many people, there is no greater definer of work than the catch 22: that it is the opposite of -but also necessary for- leisure!

When you aren't paying people, instead of asking how much you need to pay someone to do what you want (and whether it's worth it!), you ask what they want, and how you can work together to achieve that whilst also achieving your own goals.  And then - other goals too!

The magic is not so much the common value in an exchange, a binary combination of two vectors - but that it opens you up to a completely different philosophy of value creation.  Because it opens you up to considering not two contrasting goals, but a broad field of motivations - part of a complex system of value creation.  It offers a philosophy of work that is not an exchange, but a process of systemic optimisation.