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Navigating Common Challenges in doing Co-design

I'm confused...

At Authentic Co-design we hear lots of reasons NOT to do co-design.

We know it can be scary and new. There are often challenges, obstacles and roadblocks. This is understandable. While the idea of co-design feels natural to many people, actually doing it is sometimes a little challenging, and certainly something that not everyone is trained to deliver. Often the fear of doing it is even scarier. The challenges can seem insurmountable!

Common Challenges (and tips on what to do)

Here are some of the main challenges, a short comment and a quick tip about what to do or where to find resources or support to overcome the challenge:

  • Developing a useful ‘design-question’ or remit

Super critical and also a very common question. We find it best to co-design this question with the participants once you are comfortable with your boundaries and have an internal organisational mandate for co-design.

  • Creating defined and yet substantial parameters for co-design

Given the principles of Authentic Co-design this is foundational. You need to be mandated for something substantial and this mandate needs to be agreed before starting to co-design. Only your organisation can decide on its boundaries. Work needs to be done internally in the readiness step of co-design.

  • Figuring out the most useful composition of people for doing co-design

How long is that piece of string? This is an un-ending question and will involve you mapping your stakeholders (both internal and external) and always involving rights-holders. There are some very helpful processes and even some tips from us here.

  • Figuring out if you are ‘ready’ for codesign or not

This is so important. Many people have no idea what actually ‘being’ ready involves. We would argue that this is THE most important step and why it is the first Step of any Authentic Co-design project or process. Frankly, if you are not ready and try anyway it will most likely make matters worse. One important part of this is having a stickable mandate.

  • Reaching agreement on what ‘success’ means or looks like

Gosh we could write a whole chapter on this… and we did in the Authentic Co-design manual! Best tip here is to ask yourself what success looks like, then ask the participants in the co-design process, and then agree (or better still co-design) agreed measures of success.

  • Understanding how to involve all the technical stuff and experts

There is virtually no co-design project or process we know of that does not involve experts or technical stuff that not everyone will be across. There is no way to avoid it. And there are ways to make it work for you. Some tips are here.

More Resources

Over the last few years we’ve released a few related resources for getting comfortable with doing co-design. Here are some links to the relevant ones:

Lunch and Co-design

Join us for a chat over lunch (or late breakfast, afternoon tea or after dinner depending where you are) on March 16th east coast summer time in Australia… Over 55 minutes online we will chat about the above challenges (and more), chat about your challenges and ask for solutions from the group. To promote conversation we will be limiting this session to 50 participants. For more info or to register click here. Oh… and it is FREE!


Finally, if you are wondering how to skill yourself up in Co-design then it’s the perfect time to learn more about co-design through our effective and self-paced courses:

Photo Credit: Microsoft

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