Principles of Co-innovation

Guidelines for Co-innovation in Practice

  1. Take time to understand the problem from many different views
    By taking the time to fully understand the nature of the problem, and start to build on a shared vision (or ambition for change) solutions will be more likely to succeed. If you begin by assuming you understand the problem and already have a preconceived solution you may not get the changes you desire. Be prepared to consider a variety of solutions.

  2. Be inclusive – is everybody present who needs to be there in order to understand the problem, its causes and to develop workable solutions.
    Is everyone there who can help to understand the nature of the problem and its causes, influence the implementation of any potential solutions, (including those who take ideas to the market or create the rules, as well as those who may potentially block solutions). It is easier to develop a solution together than to try and sell an idea after it is formed.

  3. Engage with and value all sources of knowledge – seek new insights and take the time to listen to all the different perspectives – everyone brings something to the table.
    Be respectful of other views, experiences and ideas, while at the same time challenging ways of thinking in a constructive manner. Sources of knowledge could be local and tangible or scientific but are not limited to these sources of knowledge.

  4. Strive to learn from each other by actively listening and understanding - be open to new ideas by being willing to let your own understanding and perspectives evolve.
    How we work together and the roles we have may change over time. Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding.

  5. Keep sight of the shared vision or ‘ambition for change’
    Agree on the nature of the problem, its causes and the desired outcome of the project, and regularly review this outcome and progress toward achieving it.

  6. Be honest, open and constructive in your interactions with other participants.
    Remember we are all in this together and no one group can solve this problem on their own.

  7. Be aware of the wider context of the problem and any actual or potential changes which may occur.
    We may need to change our solutions and goals as a result of external influences (natural disaster, legislative changes, world markets, unexpected setbacks).

  8. Be flexible and adaptable
    How we work together and the roles we have may change over time.

  9. Stick with the co-innovation process despite its frustrations
    Be prepared to be uncomfortable and for setbacks to occur – we may have to work through historical tensions, current tensions and although this is not fun it is a necessary part of negotiating shared and workable solutions. Things will take time, but this investment will pay off.


i Based on Nederlof, S., M. Wongtschowski, F. van der Lee (eds). (2011). Putting heads together. Agricultural Innovation platforms in practice. Bulletin 396, KIT publishers