People support what they help build. We know this intuitively -- my three-year old nephew is much more likely to eat vegetables he's carefully tended in the family garden than those from the grocery. Hard evidence is growing, too. A recent study shows a direct correlation between the success of a change initiative and "the extent to which staff were able to contribute their own thoughts and ideas to shape or co-create the company's change initiatives."
When organizations talk about "engagement" around a change initiative, sometimes they really mean "communication" - at best a two-way dialogue and at worst a one-way cascade of information. Communication is important, but communication alone is insufficient for engagement. Amy Arnsten's neuroscience research at Yale University indicates that when employees lose autonomy over their work and are dictated tasks rather than collaborating, their brain's cognitive functioning (and subsequently work productivity) decreases. Co-creation - the participatory co-design of solutions - is often the missing link between communication and engagement.
Five years ago, many of our executive clients were afraid to trust their staff or customers to co-design business and organizational strategies. But we've seen a major shift in leadership's acceptance of co-creation as an essential method for making organizational change stick. The 2013 IBM CEO study reinforces this trend, predicting major shifts in collaboration with employees, partners and stakeholders in the next 3-5 years.
This is an exciting trend, particularly because the benefits
from co-creating change are so strong: