Co-design is a trendy concept often promoted by companies as part of societal responsibility. However, when it comes to environmental and social issues, participative collaboration models rarely get past the consultation stage and genuinely engage stakeholders.

As opposed to purely marketing concepts, here are GreenFlex’s suggestions of original initiatives with a strong social impact.

1. Social innovation laboratory

Co-design requires an equal balance between all the stakeholders regarding actions, contributions and feedback on what has been designed or co-designed. Danone have held two ‘social innovation labs’, conferences which unite a hundred managers, social entrepreneurs and NGO representatives.

During these two-day group discussions, stakeholders came together to conceive efficient solutions to strategic topics as varied as procurement, the environmental quality of products and the challenges of insecurity. Although Danone was the catalyst of the initiative, all the participants equally contribute to the discussion.

A wonderful example of pure co-design, where the company and its stakeholders collectively search for answers to their mutual problems.

2. Group dynamics

Group dynamics can also lead to effective collaborations with a strong social impact. The yearly Open Agrifood is a collaborative forum where all the links in the agribusiness chain, ‘from the field to the plate’, come to meet and discuss pressing topics. Participants debate and propose sustainable projects, capable of accelerating the transition towards more sustainable agriculture, nutrition and distribution.

The Think Tank recently launched a ‘Do Tank’, the Open Agrifood Initiatves, helping these multi-stakeholders’ pilot projects come to fruition. An original and effective model of idea and solution co-development.

3. Internal co-creation initiatives

Whether it be for redefining the company’s CSR position, setting objectives or developing shared tools, an internal co-creation system involves managers and employees in a long-term discussion process.

Through business meetings, task forces and research, GreenFlex supports numerous companies in the deployment and adoption of internal participatory mechanisms. Properly organised, these initiatives enable collective ideas to see the light of day. The perfect way to give decisions total legitimacy as well as motivate and galvanize the office.

4. Partnerships with NGOs

Essential to the success of projects on the ground, partnerships with NGOs and charities empower companies to better grasp their problems, improve local society approval rating, motivate employees and give brands a social image. In the long term, they can give birth to new forms of synergy for undertaking industrial projects and strategic sponsorships.

GreenFlex-Belinked supported AXA in its search for a global charity partner, capable of dealing with risk prevention issues (social and environmental) and mobilising employees. Signed in 2011, the AXA-Care partnership has been renewed until 2017.