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A collaborative and scalable route to rapid discovery and invention 

Action Based Co-creation is a method developed by Partners in Creation for public service leaders who want to explore the future. It enables decision makers to collaborate constructively and creatively with their customers and other relevant stakeholders.


It’s particularly effective at discovering the complex underlying causes of a problem. And for inventing scalable products, services and policies that meet the evolving needs of different parties into the future.


The following article answers how Action Based Co-creation – or ABC for short – achieves these important results.

Enabling rapid solutions to complex challenges

At its simplest, Action Based Co-creation is a workshop that accommodate 15 to 65+ people from all walks of life. It’s a technique that enables rapid solutions to complex challenges – often within 48-hours


Designed to create trust between the different participants, Action Based Co-creation quickly enables people to explore their personal and private relationships towards the products and services. It furnishes them with the confidence, resources and permission to construct detailed answers to the organisation’s challenge.


Drawing from the psychoanalytic model, using a mix of methods some of which resemble psychotherapy, creative play and system thinking, ABC workshops deconstruct taboos and overcome suppressed attitudes, which is ideal for working on sensitive and personal topics.

Identifying the roots of a problem and future demand

While many research and business techniques inform us about the present (or past), ABC is a technology to understand the roots of a problem and meet future behaviour and demand.


One of the ways Action Based Co-creation achieves it, is by enabling extremely diverse individuals and groups to collaborate directly and creatively. And to work towards a common goal rapidly.  

Enabling very different people to work together

There are few things more powerful than a diverse group of people working together to solve a specific challenge – however technical, sensitive or complex it is.


When it’s possible for a 17-year old woman from a council estate to work equally and creatively with the Chair of a NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, and a senior manager from a local housing association, then real understanding and creative solutions are possible.


Action Based Co-creation bridges the gap between ‘professional/technical leaders’ and ‘customers’ or ‘workforce’. It does this through a range of techniques and activities, many of which are still innovative in terms of the public and third sector, but well-worn in parts of the private sector. 

Benefits for leaders, participants and the organisation

Action Based Co-creation gives ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ benefits for everyone that participates – the decision-makers, their organisations and the ‘customers’ (eg patients, residents, service users).


For the decision-makers:

  • Access to wider, richer experiences that enable deeper understanding of challenges

  • Better, quicker, less risky innovations

  • Team building and consensus around problems and the future

  • Increased sense of ownership, advocacy and commitment from participants

  • Greater satisfaction and commitment to actions for change.


For the organisation and wider community:

  • Direct impact on traditional innovation practices and processes

  • Impact on speed and quality of decision-making process

  • Enables creativity at individual and group-level and potential of ‘Recombination’ – empathy and transfer of knowledge between the customer and organisation

  • Refreshed innovation practices that challenge organisational norms and biases.


For the customer (patient, resident or service user):

  • Direct opportunity to influence decision-making and decision makers

  • Wider understanding of other people’s and stakeholder’s needs and drivers

  • Accessible for people with all levels of education, literacy, technical knowledge

  • Techniques that activate creativity and self-belief among participants

  • Greater engagement and understanding of the limitations of the choices available (eg budget and resources).



Rapid actionable insights - within 48-hours

​​Action Based Co-creation can be as rapid as 3 hours. Or, depending on the nature of the enquiry, run between 6-hours and two days. The short workshop can involve up to 15 participants, but the longer versions can include up to 65+ people. 

It means that within 48-hours, complex challenges can be investigated by all the interested players. And innovative products, services and policies can be developed that are more likely to be actionable and scalable, meeting the varied needs of the wider system.

What people say

"We reached a level of insight with Partners I don’t think we would have got to with other methods. It was extremely valuable and the process itself was very well received."

— Ellie Hobart

Deputy Director of Corporate Affairs 

NHS Tower Hamlets CCG

When it’s possible for a 17-year old woman from a council estate to work equally and creatively with the Chair of a NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, and a senior manager from a local housing association, then real understanding and creative solutions are possible
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