Systems and complexity

Co-creation rules of engagement

Co-creation involves bringing diverse stakeholders together to develop solutions that everyone supports and values. It’s an approach that I’ve successfully used in numerous projects over many years, so I can attest to its benefits.

To help people facilitate the co-creation approach, the SDG Lab has put forward a list of co-creation rules of engagement as part of a new toolkit developed to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The co-creation rules of engagement are:

  • Gather different stakeholders from different sectors. Their diverse experiences and viewpoints foster solutions that are relevant and impactful.
  • Ensure everyone contributes. All voices should be heard regardless of experience, background and role.
  • Aim for quantity over quality. The goal is to generate a lot of ideas — prioritization and viability come later.
  • Think blue sky. Move beyond the perceived limitations of your organization and environment.
  • Promote active listening. When other people are talking, take notes and jot down questions.
  • Build on each other’s ideas rather than knocking them down. Instead of saying ‘no’ try ‘yes, and…’.
  • Share ideas in a visual and engaging way: drawing, acting, building… any action that motivates people to move and try new things.
  • Turn on FOCUS mode. Discourage the use of phones and computers. Respect the time people have blocked and be present.
  • Use simple visuals to transform your space. Posters, easel boards and sticky notes are low-cost ways to create a friendly and informal environment.

Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine ( and currently also teaches in the University of NSW (UNSW) Foundation Studies program in China. He has expertise and experience in a wide range of areas including knowledge management (KM), environmental management, program and project management, writing and editing, stakeholder engagement, communications, and research. Bruce holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction and a Certificate of Technology (Electronics). With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource for knowledge managers, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee the implementation of an award-winning $77.4 million river recovery program in western Sydney on time and under budget, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support communities to sustainably manage landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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One Comment

  1. This is remarkably simple Bruce – which is exactly why it works. Leveraging a deliberately diverse group is how we optimise value cocreation at Creative Melbourne.
    Thanks for sharing

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