Shaping the Co-Creation Ecosystem: Initial steps of the orientation and promotion group

In the recent post on the evolution of the co-creation ecosystem, we explained that we would be sharing the journey and lessons learned in 2023. We have been working in the five working groups and in this text, we share the steps taken in the Orientation and Promotion group.  

The objectives of this working group are: 

  • Generate and nurture the vision, mission and theory of change in the ecosystem.
  • To build and socialise a shared purpose and narrative among members, and to contrast and enrich the ecosystem’s goals with local and international actors. 
  • Design the internal organisation and build consensus with the members of the ecosystem.
  • Explore new funding opportunities. 

In 2023, we have focused on the first three objectives, and we have started to take the first steps towards achieving the fourth. 

In order to formulate the mission and vision, we have taken as a starting point the theory of change that has been created and enriched among the co-creation ecosystem members. This year, we contrasted it conducting interviews with six representatives of public institutions, the directors of two foundations, and in the following months we will contrast it citizens. 

Taking into account what has been developed so far in the ecosystem, enriched by the above-mentioned interviews, we have defined the following vision, mission and objectives: 

Our vision

A meeting place to generate co-creation shared knowledge with public institutions and local actors to respond to local challenges in collaboration. 

Our mission 

Develop conditions for co-creation and new ways of doing and thinking to respond to local challenges in the Basque Country collaboratively.

To address the complex and interconnected challenges we face, we need new collaboration models to rethink, make more effective and strengthen the relationships between civil society, organised society and public institutions. We are experimenting, generating new knowledge and connecting existing knowledge to deepen collaborative governance and explore new ways of working diverse stakeholders in a joint manner.

The objectives of the new collaboration models are: 

  • To experiment with new models of collaboration between different actors and networks and to generate knowledge about new tools and approaches to build developed collaborative ecosystems. 
  • To develop collaboration, responses and collective leadership between civil society and public institutions, joining efforts to address complex challenges. 
  • Ensure the conditions and context for effective citizen participation in public decision-making and policy-making. 
  • Scale up the impact of individuals and organisations, moving from isolated projects to systemic change. 
  • Strengthening social capital to activate social, economic and environmental transitions. 

In order to capture all this information and answer the question “Why are we building the co-creation ecosystem, we have designed a short document that you can download here (in Basque).

In designing the internal ecosystem governance, we have explored different innovative governance models. Inspired by them and adapting them to our context, we have set up a governance model with 5 working groups. We see this as an experiment, and as the work progresses, we will gather the lessons learned and iterate this governance framework in the upcoming months. The first iteration after the 2023 learning process, was the creation and implementation of a new team. This group, called Relationships, Collaborations and Communication, will be activated in the following months. 

The 6 working groups activated are as follows: 

1.The orientation and promotion group works on the ecosystem strategy, mission and governance model. 

2. The networks and mapping group makes the ecosystem visible and creates connections. 

3. The experimentation group designs and carries out co-creation experiments. 

4. The observation and evaluation group measures the impact of the ecosystem and the processes’ evaluation. 

5. The connectors group ensures coherence between the working groups and shares the information across groups. 

6. The Relationships, Collaborations and Communication group assumes the role of spokesperson for the ecosystem. It thus socialises the ecosystem, represents it and legitimises it in other networks and institutions.

The ecosystem is shown in detail in the following visual map (in Basque):


To read the details of the internal governance framework, we share the working document here (in Basque).

In the year 2023, we have experienced difficulties and challenges that we have captured as lessons learned below: 

  • Building shared leadership takes time and involves a period of uncertainty. Rather than focusing on one person or organisation in exploring an answer, shared leadership means looking at the group: listening to everyone’s voice, defining a collective meaning, deliberating and then making a collective decision. It is a process in which trust and deep mutual knowledge are essential. 
  • Concrete actions are needed to give meaning to the mission and vision, and a period of time is needed to make them tangible and build collective meaning. This iteration needs to be constantly brought to the table, bringing out the expectations of its members and facilitating spaces for deliberation among all. 
  • In defining the governance there is a risk of creating too many groups and adding too much complexity to the ecosystem. A balance must be found between efficiency and distribution of action: which groups are essential to start with, which should be permanent, and which should be temporary? 
  • Exchange of information between groups: What is the balance? How much information should each know about what the others are doing in order to function properly? What channels are most efficient? In the co-creation ecosystem, we activated one group and two channels. In the Connectors group, one representative from each group participates and we share the content that each group is working on; we share documents and meeting minutes on the Teams platform; and in the Telegram channel, we share both the key points and the latest important news after each meeting. 
  • We need to reflect on the working groups and ask ourselves questions such as: Does it make sense to keep the team as it is? Is it necessary to add new working groups or new members? Would the creation of new working teams amplify our impact, and is it sustainable to activate them now? 

What roles, leaderships, organisational frameworks, capabilities, tools, mechanisms and spaces do we need for different people, stakeholders and sensitivities to dialogue, listen and act together? What are the conditions for transforming individual leadership into collective leadership? What resources and new funding models are needed to sustain these kinds of networks over time and have a sustained impact? 

The co-creation ecosystem members are: Arantzazulab, Apitropik, Beta, Be&Lab, Colabora, Elhuyar, Emun, Farapi, Impact Hub Donostia, JM aholkularitza, Kutxa fundazioa, Maraka, Pez estudio, Tipi and Wikitoki. 

The Orientation and promotion group members are: Arantzazulab, Beta and Wikitoki.