Co-Ceation Stories: A Plea For More Variety!

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Have you been to an Innovation conference lately?  

Then you must have noticed a peculiar variant of the 20-80 rule at play!  

A handful of companies – Apple, Nike, P&G, GE, Google, Walmart – provide virtually all the fodder for industry examples and case studies.  Not just at one conference, but several.  Net result – we get to hear the same stories, with different spices and seasonings of course (depending on who’s presenting), over and over again.  

Begs the question, do we really benefit by listening to stories and case studies of just the giants – majority of them from the US? Especially problematic in a global world, wouldn’t you say?  Is nothing of consequence happening in other parts of the world?  

And then why do we only hear wildly successful case studies?  Is no one out there failing? Surely there have to be.  Just look at the plethora of articles in magazines like Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Fast Company, and Wired urging companies not be afraid of failure, and to learn from failure. 

I am ready, here – the guy with his hand raised – I am ready to learn from failure.  But how can I, if case studies dealing with failure and learning from failure are never presented?  

And what about the non-hall-of-famers?  “Unusual Suspects” (taking liberties with the famous line from Casablanca) tucked away in different parts of the world also have a lot to teach us. Korean companies, Turkish companies, Brazilian, Australian, and Malaysian companies; Indian and Chinese companies too, and not just Tata Nano and Baidu! Its time we heard their stories as well, and celebrated them, the way we celebrate Steve Jobs and Apple, and Jeff Bezos and Amazon.

In that spirit let’s celebrate Hyundai, not unknown, but definitely short on conference exposure and attendee applause/recognition.

Cars carrying the Hyundai badge have made impressive sales and market share progress in the US, and have achieved market share leadership in growth markets like India.  In the eyes of an everyday auto buyer, the Hyundai line-up may lack the cache of a BMW, Cadillac, or Mercedes, but not when it comes to auto experts. They have been rewarding and recognizing Hyundai models for several years.

  • Earlier this year, the Hyundai Elantra was chosen as the 2012 North American Car of the Year, an award designed to recognize the most outstanding new vehicle of the year.  What made the award unique was that instead of being given by a single media outlet it was awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.  This was not Hyundai’s first trip to the podium – in 2009 the Genesis won, and the Sonata was one of three finalists last year.
If this is not enough, visit Hyundai’s website, and click on Awards and Reviews.  The website provides a variety of awards not just for its car models, but also for its engines, emissions, green characteristics, and customer loyalty, in a variety of market segments.  Surely none of this would have been possible without healthy investments in innovation, and a few (or several) false starts. So, let’s hear from Hyundai. 

Even in the area of collaboration and co-creation Hyundai has a lot to share.  

  • In Feb. 2009, Hyundai partnered with Passenger, the technology leader in on-demand Customer Collaboration, to create the “Hyundai Think Tank,” a private online community for Hyundai owners, to help shape and co-create the future of the brand.  Several interesting initiatives have been co-created with the help of this community, notably the Hyundai Assurance Program.

  • More recently, to usher in its new “breaking-the-mold” compact car, the 2012 Veloster, Hyundai launched an ultra-creative co-creation project.  Called Re:Generation, 5 DJs – Premier, Mark Ronson, Skrillex, Pretty Lights and The Crystal Method – turn the tables on the history of music as they collaborate, co-create and reimagine five traditional styles of music, from the classical perfection of the Symphony Orchestra to the bayou jams of New Orleans jazz.

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Simultaneously, Hyundai has also launched a global co-creation challenge on eYeka, a co-creation challenge platform, to echo the spirit of the Veloster- a groundbreaking car that challenges all preconceived notions of what a coupe should be. Hyundai is inviting participants to demonstrate how new thinking can challenge conventions for the better and how new possibilities can be created in life, through 30-60 seconds video/animation or illustration. 

This is rich material that would stimulate and inspire virtually any professional engaged in innovation and co-creation.  I am sure there are others out there, equally brilliant and creative as Hyundai.  Can we hear and learn from them?
Hope you are listening dear conference organizers and presenters.  Please give us more than just the “usual suspects.”  In turn, we promise to turn off our smart phones, our i-everything, and stay glued to our seats!
Merci beaucoup!