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Communicating the Facts, and Feel, of Co-Creation

Office space with staff discussing a chart on a whiteboard.
May 27, 2022

Welcoming. Open. Approachable. Collaborative. These words describe USAID’s co-creation process, and they are also the words that Partnerships Incubator staff had in mind when creating a sleek, easy-to-read co-creation infographic that was published last fall. The Incubator, a USAID project tasked with demystifying partnership with the Agency, engages in a variety of featured services to support streamlined partnership, including the evaluation and curation of key information for new and prospective partners. The Incubator developed the infographic to help USAID communicate not just the facts, but also the feel, of co-creation.

Co-creation is a process that USAID uses to bring together organizations to collaboratively solve development challenges. Through co-creation, the Agency engages with a variety of key stakeholders who can apply valuable insights to find innovative, sustainable solutions.

USAID has a wealth of existing resources on co-creation that have been shared widely, but the Incubator team and USAID colleagues determined that synthesizing this information into a short, visually appealing document could be beneficial for partners. 

“Co-creation is an incredibly powerful tool,” explained Stephanie Fugate, Division Chief in USAID’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance. “Used properly, with intention and diligence, co-creation can elevate local knowledge and voices, creatively problem-solve, and help USAID use scarce resources more effectively.” 

The Incubator team and their USAID colleagues also wanted to highlight that USAID views co-creation as an approach that can take a variety of forms—from one-on-one meetings to "pause and reflect" sessions, from proposal presentations to multi-stakeholder workshops—and that it is not necessarily part of a procurement action. 

The background research on this topic was extensive, but the real challenge was boiling the information down to its most essential components. “The goal was to communicate in a way that is easy to understand—so as to draw partners in,” noted Partnerships Incubator consultant Sylvie Doutriaux, who led the development of the document. “Breaking down knowledge barriers would make it more likely that partners would feel excited about working with USAID. They would picture the value they bring to the Agency, and understand that USAID is eager to tap into their knowledge and expertise.”

Drawing on the talents of the Incubator’s graphic design subcontractor, TM Design, the Incubator team determined that an infographic would be an ideal communication tool for this purpose. The visually appealing nature of the infographic would engage the reader, making the document accessible for all partners.

“We've heard in many contexts that, especially for partners whose first language might not be English, fewer words and more visual aids can help communicate information quickly,” explained Doutriaux. 

In the end, every word, every shape, and every icon was chosen to convey the essence of USAID’s co-creation process. 

“The idea, when we decided to do an infographic, was to have something that people would want to put on their wall. So that's what I would hope, that partners will have something they think is useful and visually appealing enough to put up in their workspace, where it can serve as a quick reference guide,” said Brandon Sitzmann, Deputy Project Director and Technical Director for the Incubator.

If you find the infographic useful, you can print out your own copy here, and use the social share buttons on this post to share this resource with other organizations in your network!