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What We Mean by Co-Creation

Written by MJ Ryan, SheEO Development Guide

“We are not helpless victims in the grasp of some supernatural force.  We were active participants in the creation of our present consciousness.  From that consciousness we created our present internal model of reality.  From that internal model we created our present concepts of organization and accounting.  With those concepts we created our present society. We did it!  All of us! We know that we must do better.  We know that we must do it together.”

— Dee Hock

This month, Mindset Monday is exploring the SheEO value of co-creation. I thought I would begin by sharing Activator Denise Hearn’s essay on the topic from the SheEO website. Hopefully it will spark your thinking about new mindsets:

“We are used to being told what to do, what to think, and how to work. The mechanistic worldview of the industrial revolution saw workers as cogs in a giant machine, specialized in one particular area to maximize efficiency. This is where we get the idea of ‘division of labor.’ But this kind of hierarchical, static, and efficiency-focused organization is, in many ways, the opposite of what we aim to build at SheEO. 

“SheEO has been largely self-organized and self-governed, and we desire to lean into this even further. As someone who is part of the SheEO community — as an Activator, Venture, board member, or team member — you don’t need to ask for permission to jump in. All you need to do is raise your hand, see if others resonate with your idea, and step forward to start building. 

“When thinking of something new to create, we often ask: 

  • Who do we need to include in this action/initiative? 
  • Who do we know who has the domain expertise, skill set, and values to support this activity?

“Then we roll up our sleeves and collaborate with others. We then actively ask for feedback, share how we’ve applied it, and honor those whom we co-created alongside. 

“Another way to frame this is mutual-aid, which is a term to describe something as old as human existence: caring for one another by self-organizing to meet basic needs, instead of relying on institutions to do this for us. Mutual aid is often witnessed in post-disaster areas, and is evidence of our desire to cooperate, rather than compete as a species to aid our very survival. 

“SheEO is constantly experimenting with ways to create the infrastructure for mutual aid to occur: whether it is the Ask/Give app, matching needs and offers throughout the network, or amplifying women’s stories — we desire to be a community in which everyone’s needs are met and more.

“Co-creation means trusting the intelligence and resources of thousands of women globally. We are laser-focused on creating a distributed, global network that is self-sufficient locally and leverages technology to amplify impact. Activators and Ventures in our network self-organize events and co-create our model in real-time. We do not have staff on the ground in each country. It’s almost an entirely volunteer-driven community committed to building our muscle of radical generosity to strengthen communities.”

Reflection question: What can I offer today? What can I receive? 

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