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This content is taken from the Griffith University's online course, Social Change: How Can Marketing Help?. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds In our last video, we explained the concept of co-design and how it is a fantastic way to create innovative design solutions. You learnt how co-design allows us to understand what our users or customers place value on in order to design solutions more suited to their needs. By centering users at the design stage, we can ultimately improve programme success to deliver more change. So how do we implement co-design to discover innovative ideas? The six-step co-design process was developed to guide people like you who want to work with users to discover new, innovative, and unique ways to attract more customers. I will now briefly describe each step of the process.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds To start, you need to find best practise examples of change programmes that have been implemented by others from around the world. The aim is to find that would help to improve people’s experience with a programme like the one you were trying to create. These findings are often used to create design tools such as collages or activity cards to get the conversation started in the co-design session. Next, we move on to the planning stage. This is the stage where everyone in the team can come together to fully map out the co-design process. You need to determine the location and times to run the co-design sessions and plan ahead for possible unexpected events, such as conflicts between users or off-topic discussions.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds These factors and many more should be planned for before moving onto the recruitment stage. Not everyone recognises that there are experts who have a lot to offer. And many people have no motivation to participate. It can be hard to get them into a room. It is important to develop a clear strategy and tap into existing networks and partnerships to ensure you identify and recruit suitable participants. Sensitization is about preparing the participants for the co-design sessions. This involves making participants aware of the topic and allowing them to begin the process of idea generation. Building trust is a key factor. And having a warm-up activity really helps people to feel comfortable enough to contribute great ideas.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds During the facilitation stage, the aim is to empower the participants to produce valuable insights. Role playing or fun games helps creativity and encourages collaboration between people involved in the co-design session. During the co-design sessions, a sequence of activities along with step-by-step guidance helps participants to engage actively in the design process. Finally, your task is to evaluate the outcomes of the co-design sessions to identify meaningful insights to be used for programme design. Often, this stage may require you to engage with experts to learn more about determining the best ideas to implement. Following this step-by-step process allows you to open your thinking.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 seconds It allows you to work with the people you are trying to reach and offers you a way to draw on their experience to innovate. A user-oriented process can help you to see it through their eyes. And in doing so, you can avoid costly mistakes that send people down the wrong path.

A 6 step process to develop innovative solutions

Apply a 6 step process to learn from the people at the heart of the problem. Bottom up approaches avoid costly failures, and they engage users.

Not everyone recognises that they are experts who have a lot to offer.

The Blurred Mind project

After completing a randomised control trial that lowered teenagers’ alcohol drinking intentions, Social Marketing @ Griffith restarted the C-B-E process. We did this knowing it would help us to further improve the program.

Blurred Minds was co-designed with 58 high school students aged 14–16 years who had previously participated in the program. We ran six co-design sessions. By working with the people who know best (students who had participated in the program) the research team was able to discover new and innovative ways to further improve the program.

New online games (including a virtual house party) and activities were developed with students. The students were able to voice their opinions and they felt “empowered” to be part of an important cause – changing the lives of their fellow students.

Dr. Timo Dietrich and colleagues developed a 6 step co-design process to help more people understand how they can discover new, innovative and unique ways to attract more customers.

Download this step by step guide, Co - design booklet, which uncovers the details of this technique and shows you how you can apply the 6 steps to learn how you can improve your program today.

Your task

Think about how you would apply the 6 step co-design process to your problem. Use the comments link to share your ideas and to get some feedback.


Dietrich, T., Trischler, J., Schuster, L. and Rundle-Thiele, S.R. (2017) “Co-designing services with vulnerable consumers” Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 27(3), 663-688.

Dietrich, T., Rundle-Thiele, S.R., Schuster, L., & Connor, J. (2016). Co-designing social marketing programs. Journal of Social Marketing, 6(1), 41-61.

Durl, J., Trischler, J., & Dietrich, T. (2017). Co-designing with young consumers – reflections, challenges and benefits. Young Consumers, 18(4), 439-455.

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This video is from the free online course:

Social Change: How Can Marketing Help?

Griffith University