Giving Compass' Take:

• Dennis Whittle, co-founder and CEO of Feedback Labs, describes how co-creation, the process of collaboration between policymakers and constituents, can help organizations thrive. 

• Have you seen examples of co-creation in your community? How can grantmakers take advantage of this practice? 

• Read about how co-creation can help inform social programs. 

Dennis Whittle is co-founder and chief executive officer of Feedback Labs, a consortium of like-minded organizations committed to making governments, NGOs, and donors more responsive to the needs of their constituents.

ASPEN INSTITUTE (AI): What does co-creation mean to you?

DENNIS WHITTLE: Co-creation is when policymakers, regulators, and program designers have conversations with the people they’re seeking to serve, both about what they’re trying to do, as well as how they intend to do it. Those conversations can lead you in directions that you have not foreseen. As policymakers or program designers and administrators, we might think that we should be providing people with educational training, for example. But when you talk to the people themselves, it may turn out that a health intervention is more important. Or it might be that the time, place, and methodology or modality of the training could be really important to them, and that could be a significant or even overwhelming factor in whether the program has an impact and is a success or not.

AI: How do you use or apply co-creation?

DW:  In the case of Feedback Labs, two-thirds to three-fourths of our agenda is driven by the 400-plus organizations in our network. For example, for the Feedback Summit we just did, three-fourths of the agenda was determined by the participants. We went out to them months ahead of time and said, “What do you all want to talk about?” We had people submit their ideas for the sessions, the topics, the themes. They actually ran most of the sessions.

Read the full article about the concept of co-creation for nonprofits at The Aspen Institute.