Image: before and after the change: #13 2008 & #11 2009
In 2007, educational publisher Malmberg kicked off the re-positioning of Okki, its ‘edutainment’ magazine for children at home, with an elaborate ‘customer insight trajectory’. This can be seen as an early stage co-creation project.
The Malmberg editiorial department visited families at home, spent half days in the classroom and at the school yard and analyzed all popular kids media. Then they locked themselves up in the Dutch countryside and brainstormed intensively, guided by an external innovation specialist. A ‘wild goose’ participated in this session – someone external who can think out of the box – as well as the customer insight specialist who had managed the prior trajectory. The wildest ideas were conjured up, including the concept of an ‘upside down world’, in which people walk backward instead of forward, up is down, kids are the boss and grown-ups attend school, etc.
The ideas were clustered and refined in rough concept starters, which then were presented to children in the target group age (6/7-year-olds). Based on the kids’ feedback a few ideas were selected, further refined, made concrete, and were presented again to children, as well as parents and teachers. Thus, the new Okki was born, an astronaut who discovers educational planets with his friend Bik. The new Okki performs much better than the old Okki, proof that the re-positioning has resulted in a more relevant proposition.
Though an early stage example, Malmberg was engaging in co-creation, since the end users (children) were regularly consulted and have actively added to the end result. However, the co-creation could have been more complete: in hindsight we view it as a missed opportunity that no children participated in the brainstorm. Not only are children better than any grown-up ‘wild goose’ at thinking free and creatively, but also they would have made a good selection of relevant versus irrelevant ideas on the spot. For instance, children at this age turned out to be cognitively unable to grasp the concept of an ‘upside down world’; had they been present at the brainstorm, this idea would have not been selected for further development.
Moreover, had children been present at the brainstorm, they would have been able to lift the concept starters to a higher plane from their own unique view of the world. That would have made further research obsolete. Malmberg would have been able to jump directly to developing a few relevant concepts, with children being re-connected at a later stage.
Footnote: The title Okki does not belong to Malmberg anymore, but to Blink Publishers.