Monday, May 19, 2014

Co-Creation: The Inclusion & Diversity Force Multiplier

The more Relationships Matter Now speaks to organizations about their inclusion and diversity efforts, the more I'm convinced that this space is in need of an overhaul. There is value in "off the shelf" diversity trainings such as the current hot diversity topics microaggressions, unconcious bias and culutral awareness. These courses, along with the support and follow-up companies provide can be extremely helpful toward building more inclusive work environments. But those courses alone cannot create and sustain the inclusive work environment so many companies desire to cultivate. It is imperative for companies to co-create with their associates specific inclusive behaviors that can drive the business result.

Co-creation is the inclusion and diversity industry's next force multiplier.

Let's take a step back to define a few terms before we go any further. defines co-creation as  a business strategy focusing on customer experience and interactive relationships. Co-creation allows and encourages a more active  involvement from the customer to create a value rich experience.

In the case of inclusion and diversity practicioners, the "customer" is the associate you serve. Co-creation between the management team and the all associates in the organization will yield the best chance for long-term implementation of any strategies and initiatives that drive toward common goals.

Co-creation calls for not only gathering input from everyone but making every person in the organization a contributor to the solution of the specific challenge the organization faces.

Now, let's look at the definition of force multiplier.

Dicitionary of Military and Associated Terms defines it as a capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.

It was Retired General Colin Powell who first pointed out this powerful word to me at a leadership conference in 2007. He described how this military term applied to business when he listed a group of "force mulitpliers" off the battle field such as positivity and servant leadership. With all other things equal, a force multiplier increases effectiveness  and drives it users to their goal in less time with less energy.

Organizations who utilize co-creation to solve challenges versus other methods report higher engagement and greater positive long term business results. We are not going to list the names of companies that use this method as it is a list that will immediately make more traditional companies cringe. Relationships Matter Now is proving to non-Silicon Valley orgs that co-creation works. In addition to several Employee Resource Groups/Networks projects with Fortune 500 entities, RMN utilizes co-creation on projects of all types and the results are the same. Co-creation enables organization to face challenges and achieve goals more quickly and more efficiently than other methods.

At the 2014 Forum on Workplace Inclusion, Relationships Matter Now proved co-creation's effectiveness with diverse group of diversity and inclusion leaders. Debuting at the 26th annual conference hosted by the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas  in Minneapolis, RMN Managing Partner Denise Barreto led a learning session entitled Co-Creation: D&I’s Next Force Multiplier and Trusted Technique to Spark Greater Engagement for Your ERG Participants. The session was ranked #1 out of 65 learning modules over the 3 day conference. Driving that ranking was the participants perceived ability to implement techniques learned in the session. The session itself was a "work in progress." And while the facilitator directed and guided the discussion, the key takeaways from the session were "co-created" together. The session was lively, energetic and clearly gave attendees the confidence to try a new technique when they returned to their businesses.

Built on the known fact of how adults learn and retain information, co-creation is the next big driver in inclusion and diversity strategies and will lead the space into its next era of change.

Over the next serveral weeks, we will explore how co-creation works and why teams need to use this technique to drive immediate results in their inclusion and diversity efforts.

Join the conversation.

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