Maarten Pieters: “Existing forms of co-creation will merge with AI techniques and will strengthen each other”

Co-design describes an approach to design that attempts to actively involve all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) in the design process to thus ensure the result meets their needs and is ultimately usable. This brings about a great range of benefits for their product or service such as a better fit to the customer’s needs, profitability or brand loyalty.

With this post we inaugurate a series of short interviews with the speakers at the #CoCreateEU event held in Bilbao last November. The first interviewee is Maarten Pieters, one of the keynote speakers and Head of Co-Creation and People Insigh for the Design and User Experience deparment at Signify. Maarten delivered a speech on “Co-Creation at the Heart of Design”.

What was your first personal initiation with co-design? 

Before I committed myself to co-creation, I was already working in innovation, mainly using design thinking kind of methods. At some point I realised that the projects that were most successful were those that were co-created as much as possible, really involving and collaborating with those we are designing for! From that point on I dedicated myself to co-creation. Together with Stefanie Jansen, who had similar experience, we founded The book we recently published, ‘The 7 Principles of Complete Co-creation’, is a collection of the knowledge we have gathered over the last decade in this field. It became a practical handbook that gives ample of useful content for anyone to really start co-creating.

Please name a project which is for you a best practice in co-design and explain the reasons why.

The first ever project Stefanie and I work on together is a fantastic example of what co-creation can do. A small educational publisher decided to approach things in a different way, and asked us to help them work on a new method for primary school english. From start to finish it has been co-created with the children, teachers and even parents. In every phase of development is there a productive role for the users of the method. It has made extremely successful.

What is the benefit of co-design for you personally? 

It makes my work easier, but also more demanding; it makes it more purposeful, and much more fun. I have seen how co-creation is the glue for any project team to succeed, and how, done well, co-creation has a big positive impact on the process and the outcome.

Please take a look in the future: What will be – to your expectations – the most important co-design success in 2030?

The next step will be to include artificial intelligence into the co-creation process. This is still early stage, but it will improve rapidly. Existing forms of co-creation will merge with AI techniques and will strengthen each other, creating an unprecedented co-creation power. This will create stronger relationships and loyalty between organisations and their customers. Exciting times!