April 11, 2019

THE JARGONIST: Breaking Down Business’s Buzziest Terms

Co-create verb co-cre-ate (pronounced: kō-krē’āt)

Definition: to bring into existence something of mutual value by joining together two or more people previously separated by distinct roles (e.g., marketing and research and development; manufacturer and retail customer; brand and consumer). Approached effectively, co-creation can maximize combined expertise and competencies.

Used in a sentence: The brand team co-created some new-product ideas with Millennial moms online.

First known usage:  While the term “co-creation” existed beforehand, marketing professors C.K. Prahalad and Venkatram Ramaswamy helped popularize the concept in 2000, in a Harvard Business Review article titled “Co-Opting Customer Competence.” The authors attributed the practice’s growing adoption to “deregulation, globalization, technological convergence, and the rapid evolution of the Internet,” and traced its origins to the software industry’s open-source and beta-test development models.

The buzz index: As the roles held by all concerned parties become ever more fluid, the term “co-creation”—with its suggestion of working across roles with distinct competencies—may lose its cachet, and working together may once again become good old “collaboration” (from the Latin collaborare meaning “work with”).

Brush up on other business buzz words: Continuous Innovation 

Jargonist Robert Cherry is Chief Creative at Seed Strategy. His least favorite buzzword is “margin accretive growth,” which makes a good thing sound like a malignancy.

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