Winning in the Age of Bohonomics

Bohos in Co-creation: Meeting the New Criteria of Quartet Helix Model

Many people say that there cannot be many “chief cooks” in a kitchen. This old wisdom is so strong that some people really behave like this wisdom should be realized everywhere in the society. Personally, I claim that questioning this old wisdom is a critical gate to better results and to new breakthrough innovations. Co-operation of people who are “able to make a difference” is a key challenge for talent management. If we don´t see this challenge, many promising possibilities are lost forever.

Co-creation is one key concept of today´s management sciences. Interactive value-creation is one element of co-creation. How to make co-creation process work? This strategic question is in many smart minds of management gurus.

The power of co-creation will be a big challenge for 21st century organizations. Famous scholars Venkat Ramaswamy and Francis Gouillart (Free Press, 2010) are talking in their book, “The Power of Co-Creation” about the co-creation (CC) principle. This principle means: “engaging people to create valuable experiences together while enhancing network economics”. According to the authors, co-creation principle has four components: (1) Experience mindset, (2) context of interactions, (3) engagement platforms and (4) network relationships. All these components are critical for the winning teams.

For example, Apple embraced co-creation principle to enhance the speed and scope of its innovation, generating over 1 $ billion for its Apple-Store partner developers in two years. Also Starbucks has launched its to create and tap into new ideas from customers. Many other successful corporations (like Nike and Unilever) have adopted the co-creation principle. We can say that the co-creation principle is already working and bringing good results. We can expect that many other organizations can get nice results with the adoption of the CC principle.

Ongoing ubiquitous technology revolution includes different kind of innovations, not only technical innovations. We will need new technical innovations, new business innovations and social innovations to “survive” ubiquitous revolution. Also the relative importance of systemic innovations is growing because of the ubiquitous revolution. Autonomous innovations are not easily developed in the ubiquitous technology environments. New innovations are built in multidisciplinary teams.

But can the CC principle work even better with the bohos? Yes it can. Co-creation means the adoption of Quartet Helix Principles, which is more challenging than Triple Helix Principle. The traditional Triple model with industries, the government and the academia is not enough for a successful innovation system. We must add consumers and users to the innovation game. Well educated and informed consumers are ready to take advantage of choice.

Mass consumption society is over, at least in post-industrialized societies. We must pay more attention to both supply and demand side of the business networks, we must take also very critical and smart lead consumers into attention. Can we do it without boho energy and knowledge? The answer is “no”.

Modern organizations need discovery-driven planning and pilot experiments. The rigid supply chain management is not enough. We must understand complex interactions of stakeholders. With the little help of ambitious boho teams we can understand d many things in a better way. How this will happen?

Moves towards the Quartet Helix Model are like baby´s walk to innovation success.

The steps are small but strategically important ones. There must be incremental goals, but also visionary goals. We must be able to set incremental goals which embower hot boho teams to make a difference. Starting small and manageably is a key issue in the co-creation processes. We must be able to specify clearly what the user and service professionals expect to do. One motivational challenge is to keep joint records achievement and performance success.

A big mistake is to give just one option for the boho teams. It is better to present many options through which they can achieve the goals and visions. The one road model does not work in the boho team management. It is also important to frame the strategy in an aspirational way to excite ambition inside a boho teams. Wise managers also understand that also bohos need role models and peer-to-peer support to build personal confidence. Information, incentives and resources are needed to make remarkable changes. Anybody understands this basic fact. We cannot expect top level results in the Mental Olympic Games without these resources. The next Prada collection is not created without information, incentives and resources. Aspirational brands are based on these kinds of special resources.

Building inner special resources inside the boho team is key issue for the management of boho teams. Boho teams needs “safe places” for co-creation processes. As we noted above, experience mindset, context of interactions, engagement platforms and network relationships are the four critical elements. All the elements are connected to the “safe places” thinking. Any place for co-creation does not work, because mental images are a critical element of co-creation process. Confidence with personal mental images plays a very important role in creative interaction and co-creation. Craze, mania, rage are words that are often used in the context of new idea creation. We cannot expect these words to be realized in dull and non inspirational environments.

We must be very critical concerning “safe places” where we will work. For very successful boho teams this issue is a critical pre-condition for innovation success.


1 Ramaswamy, Venkat and Gouillart, Francis J. (2010) The Power of Co-Creation: Build It with Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and Profits. Simon and Schuster.
2 Ramaswamy, V. (2009) Leading the transformation to co-creation of value. Strategy and Leadership. Vol. 37 No. 2, 32-37.
Apple Store
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9 Etzkowitz, H., Leydesdorff, L. (eds.) (1997). Universities in the Global Economy: A Triple Helix of University-Industry-Government Relations. Cassell Academic, London.
Quartet Helix Model
10 Kaivo-oja, Jari (2011) Futures of Innovation Systems and Systematic Innovation Systems: Towards Better Innovation Quality with New Innovation Management Tools. E-book 9/2011. Turku: Finland Futures Research Centre.
Ubiquitous technology
11 Weiser, Mark (1991) . The computer for the 21st century. Scientific American, 265(3): 94—104
12 Greenfield, Adam (2006) Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.
13 Jurvansuu, Marko (2010) Roadmap to Ubiquitous World. Where the Difference between Real and Virtual is Blurred. VTT Research Notes 2574. VTT: Helsinki.
14 Web:
Aspirational brands


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