Growing up in the grizzly suburbs of Lagos; I would wake up on most days greeted by the sweet aroma of hot “agege” bread, and trailing not too far behind the bread seller would be Mama Pelumi, a middle-aged woman hawking freshly prepared beans widely referred to as “Ewa-agoyin”.
Back then, it wasn’t unusual to see the Ewa-agoyin seller walking alongside the bread seller; and this continues even today. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the remote suburbs like Ketu or the most affluent areas like Victoria Island, you would always find these two rolling together.
I didn’t give it that much thought as a kid but now when I think about it, I realise that both women were far ahead of their time. They discovered that there was an equal need for the product they sold and it made sense to move together, to travel the same path so they could reach more people and make more sales. They threw aside competition or the fear of loss of their customers and simply worked together to create value for themselves and their customers. There is a famous African proverb —
“If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together”.
There is nothing that defines co-creating as clearly as this proverb; the understanding that the coming together of ideas can create more impact than individual efforts.
As a content strategist; just like Mama Pelumi and the bread seller, I have come to realise that the duty of satisfying the greater mass is too complex alone for one entity to bear. If I want to go far, I would need to find partners that want to go together.
Co-creation is indeed the future of work; it is the way forward for delivering innovative solutions to a very dynamic customer base.
In these social media times where attention is fleeting, people have lost the patience to wait for you or your business to give them what they need; they are quick to move on to the next available option if you can’t seem to provide them value. So how do you remain relevant to your clients; how do you keep the attention on you and your brand? I think the solution is always keeping your clients at the centre of your process and that means sometimes working with the “enemy” (read: competition) to create more value for them.
I have seen how co-creating at various levels of business works; Nike and Apple, Cheetos and Mountain Dew joining forces to offer their customers fascinating products that cater to their needs. In every instance, co-creating gives every party involved immense value. Customers stay happy, and the businesses involved receive returns on their efforts.
So if you are the Ewa-agoyin hawker, find your bread seller and put the customer in the centre always.