Co-Creation: The Researcher’s Solution for Cognitive Dissonance #MRX

Broadwater Focus Group

Image by Nebraska Library Commission via Flickr

Co-creation is a beautiful idea. Companies working together, in cooperation, with the common woman and man on an equal footing to create new and better products and services.

But are they really on an equal footing, each one contributing and benefiting the same amount from the team effort? Let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no equality in the relationship. There is a researcher and there is a opinion provider. There is a client giving serious cash to a research company and an opinion provider who is hopefully getting a sense of contribution and perhaps a couple bucks.

Is it co-creation? No. Co-creation is an idealistic term, a Pollyanna word, a term we use to describe a utopia, a term we use to make ourselves feel better about an unequal relationship, a term to deal with the cognitive dissonance we feel around our inability to pay opinion providers more than a couple of bucks. It makes us feel better about the imbalance of power that permeates our work.

Don’t get me wrong here. The lead researcher may very well feel very strongly that they are engaging in a well-rounded team-based relationship. And, maybe the senior management of the company feels that way too. But wanting doesn’t make it so. Until that ideation has percolated down to everyone on the team, the junior analysts who’ve only been told to monitor the system for swear words, the portal programmers who haven’t internalized the importance of privacy, until everyone internalizes the concept of team effort, until the opinion providers have just as much say and benefits in return as the clients and researchers, it’s just not co-creation.

Research groups, or DROCs, or MROCs, or whatever you like to use when you’re busy with co-creation, are a great idea for everyone involved. All parties get something desirable for their efforts.

But in the market research space, where transparency has turned into one of the biggest buzz words out there, let’s be transparent about this and just call a spade a spade. Or in this case, a research group a research group.

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