Information about the opportunities that co-production creates and how to overcome its challenges

An overview

CO-PRODUCTION is about organisations, groups and individuals sharing their skills, lived and professional experience and resources. In a group that uses co-production, people from a variety of backgrounds aim to work together in an equal partnership to achieve positive change.

Every Voice Counts - Co-production has the potential to empower people who would not naturally rise to the surface. Co-production is an opportunity to change the rules of the game and create a space where every voice is valued and new opportunities are created for these voices to be heard. It is important to bear in mind that sometimes co-production approach tends to favour people who are already empowered and skilled.

All in it together - People with lived experience can be seen merely as volunteers when they choose to engage in projects to work towards an outcome they care about. This can cause tensions when other professionals may be paid in their role, or have time dedicated to the task. Partners involved in a change network need to acknowledge the practical and emotional challenges of bringing people with lived experience onboard to engage properly, fairly and equally.

Cost efficiency - Co-production needs to be resourced. It can be seen as a way to create more efficient, better value outcomes because it includes people who have lived experience in design. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s always the ‘cheapest option’ in the short term.

Here are some other basic requirements to consider.


Not just financial resources but people, emotional support and practical support, time and flexibility to build relationships and meet outcomes.


Shared Values

Keeping shared values at the can bring together a group of people with radically different experiences.




Leadership or Facilitation

Depending on the Change Network’s preference, leadership or facilitation can help to manage tensions in the group and create opportunities for engagement. Facilitating a group of diverse voices isn’t easy; it requires skills, truth, commitment and the ability to give up some control.



Clearly Defined Participation

There are lots of different ways  for all partners to get involved. Not everybody wants to stand up and speak or represent the partnership. Taking an asset based approach means using the skills of the group for the best impact. Is there a gifted blogger/accountant/public speaker amongst you?





Co-production and Involvement

It is not enough to rely on initial consultation or later evaluation. People need to have been involved throughout all phases of activities to see their ideas come to fruition, or to understand why this can't happen.



Acknowledge and support the risk-taking that is a natural part of co-production. People from professional settings may be stepping outside of their comfort zone, and people with lived experience may be sharing their experience and story, with the added risk of having to compromise some of their values within the group.



Constructive Spaces with Structure

There is a real benefit in co-producing a set of values and a working together agreement (see the Pilotlight co-design tool) to refer to throughout this project.


Clear Decision Making System

Help people feel in control by having clear decision making systems and be transparent about your direction (check this Pilotlight tool as an example).






Learn more about co-production