When does co-creation turn into co-destruction ?


Co-creation has underlying risks which have to be adressed

The paradigm of co-creation suggests that customers get involved in the processes of companies to contribute with ideas, insights or competencies. Being an operant resource for the organization, customer involvement results in value co-creation. Examples of successful value co-creation are numerous and we already gave some practical cases in our review of The Power of Co-Creation. However, two researchers recently opened up the debate about co-creation by suggesting that co-creation efforts can also be fruitless ; and they call it value co-destruction.

We’re at eYeka are the first to claim that co-creation is beneficial for the enterprise, and our daily business gives us a lot of evidence about this. However, the assumption that interactions between a firm and its customers is always beneficial might not be true in every case. Plé & Chumpitaz (2010) call value co-destruction the « interactional process between service systems that result in a decline in at least one of the systems’ well being« . Disappointing results of a co-innovation initiative, for instance, can be seen as co-destruction because time and money have been spent in something that merely leads to an incremental innovation. « This leaves the field open for competitors who are developing alternative innovations« , the authors say. However, they do not give any practical example of value co-destruction. So we went hunting for some cases…


One of the fathers of co-creation, Francis Gouillart, wrote an interesting blog post about the oh-so-praised co-creation initiatives IdeaStorm and MyStarbucksIdea. He thinks that managing a huge amount of suggestions (not ideas, suggestions) centrally is not efficient, and that Dell and Starbucks will only have it right when their platforms evolve into InteractionStorm or MyStarbucksProcesses. We can’t deny, however, that these engagement platforms have generated tremedous value for the two brands, in both ideas and PR. So these are definitely not cases of co-destruction ! Some people are discussing reasons for failure in open innovation, others also list participatory social media campaigns that failed, but we didn’t find any page that describes a case of failure in co-creation – or co-destruction…

The co-created consumption experience at Games Workshop


Warhammer Games Day 2009 in Madrid

Let’s take a look at a case that has been discussed for a couple of years by French researcher Bernard Cova : the Warhammer community. This community is heavily based on the co-creation of the gaming experience, of figures & accessories and of events related to the world of Warhammer.  Customers are often very engaged in their roles, they co-create figurines and attend events while also paying for the experience of playing the strategy game. It is a perfect example of value co-creation, but the concern is that the blurring frontier between consumers and employees might have negative effects : declining passion for the game, disenchantment of performance-held employees, lack of freedom of speech… If Games Workshop, the creator of Warhammer, is unable to recognize the community’s passion and the resulting involvement (co-creation of value) there is a risk of loosing community members – and destroying value !

There are lessons to be drawn from this. Before engaging into any kind of co-creation strategy, companies and customers should align their mutual expectations. This means that « firms should communicate precisely about the manner they expect their consumers to integrate and apply the resources needed for co-creating value« , the authors say. At eYeka, a brief always details what the brand expects from a call for entry, and the content is moderated appropriately. It might not unleash immoderate passion… but it will also avoid negative side-effects !

About Yannig

Yannig was Marketing Manager at eYeka, responsible for PR, communication and research. Interested in marketing, innovation and design-related topics, he also loves to free his head by cycling, running, reading or drawing. Yannig, who holds an MSc from ESSCA School of Management and a PhD from University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, tweets under @YannigRoth and blogs at www.yannigroth.com
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4 Responses to When does co-creation turn into co-destruction ?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention When does co-creation turn into co-destruction ? - by | #eYeka Co-creation Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. A first example of a crowdsourcing platform, on which a co-creation ‘process’ (or at least something that is closer to a process than most other platforms) is implemented, might be https://www.tchibo-ideas.de

    Consumer needs, consumer ideas and development expertise at Tchibo to realize the ideas are closely intertwined and the products labelled as « community idea ».

    • Yannig says:

      Thank you for your comment Volker.

      Tchibo-Ideas.de is an interesting example because crowdsources both the problems (« how do I get the very last drop out of my toothpaste tube? ») and the solutions (« a round USB port to avoid asking youself how to plug-in the USB-key »), which are each selected through a 3-step process. The best ideas can be selected by Tchibo to be sold in their stores on the basis of a licence contract (inventor gets a % of sales).

      For those who don’t know Tchibo : Tchibo is kind of the German equivalent of Starbucks. The big difference is that Tchibo expanded its offerings wide beyond coffee & food : they offer new products every week (essentially household-related items, but also clothes, travels, insurance!) and that makes up a huge part of their revenue today.

  3. rickybroad says:

    This awesome and attractive post a this is give many new ideas on Co-creation.



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