Transform Leadership Development with Co-Creation Labs

For years, improving the ability of leaders to create and sustain successful organizations has been a top priority for organizations. Yet, more than 75 percent of today’s executive and business leaders tell Brandon Hall Group that their leadership development (LD) is not very effective.

Why is it that LD reins as a critical business strategy yet very few of us are getting it right? The answer often lies within a less than optimal design to leadership development. For example, many organizations – in fact 79.9 percent – still rely on traditional in-person classroom training as their primary approach to leader development. They fail to create experiential and highly interactive, social opportunities where leaders rally with each other to share novel ideas and participate in entrepreneurial-spirited discussions.

The absence of collaborative, leader-directed learning stymies leaders’ abilities to create actionable plans to strengthen organizational capacity and innovate for future growth. Co-creation Labs are a powerful, novel way to facilitate and sustain leaders’ capability to accelerate and sustain business success.

What Are Co-Creation Labs?

They are a collection of leaders coming together to develop and accelerate new ways of thinking, leading, and managing complex business challenges. Via experimentation, they co-create feasible and action-oriented resolutions that are often embedded in grassroots processes and initiatives.

Why Co-Creation Labs Matter

Co-Creation Labs offer a means to channel collective leader mindshare around complex, transformational challenges and enable on-demand and regular access between and among leaders. Co-Labs stimulate new ways to think about existing challenges, new tools and resources to monitor and measure progress against challenges, and new ways of leaders behaving beyond what standard leader competencies might promise.

How Co-Creation Labs Work

Co-Creation Labs are experiential and highly interactive sessions in which leaders collaborate and rally around novel solutions to pressing business challenges in an experimental environment. Co-Creation Labs are designed around:

  • Empirical 70:20:10 data validating that leaders learn best when immersed in experiential development and learning from each other
  • Prepping next generation leaders to proactively solve complex business challenges. Participating in a lab is not about learning what is already known from an expert. It is endeavoring in change and innovation. There are no real rules other than real participation and a bias for execution and action.

Who Participates in Co-Creation Labs?

Regular participants are:

  • Current leaders who recognize that traditional leader development solutions simply do not work and accelerating business results relies on a new form of leadership development
  • Future, high-potential leaders who are ambitious and hungry to be an integral part of revolutionary leadership development and next-level business growth
  • Current and future leaders who thrive on sharing stories, “trying on” new solutions and enriching the organization’s overall collective capability. Co-Lab participants have zero tolerance for traditional in-classroom training and typically expect and rely upon social media for on-demand collaboration and networking.

Where Are Co-Creation Labs Held?

Co-Creation Labs are held everywhere, anytime, and all the time. Co-Labs do not wait for the HR or Talent Team to schedule them, select and register leaders. They are created on the fly and open 24x7x365 typically via social platforms to all leaders who have the fire in the belly to take their organizations to the next level leveraging the power of collective leadership and edgy thinking.

Who’s Already Using Co-Creation Labs?

  • BMW
    For sharing ideas about the automotive future
  • Coca-Cola
    To encourage fans to create their own commercials
  • Infosys
    To create compelling user interfaces like never before imagined

In my opinion, Co-Labs are a real business impact differentiator in the leadership development equation.


  • Create a culture of leader-generated development. Saturate your organization with regular communication from executives and other business leaders about the expectation of leaders taking personal accountability to determine how best to come together and leverage the power of many to generate new approaches to business challenges.
  • Use Co-Labs to enhance the business impact of your leadership development. Replace traditional leadership development with Co-Creation Labs to develop leaders enabled to take your organization to the next levels of performance.
  • Invest in technology to enable leader development via Co-Labs. Acknowledge that leaders today demand global connectivity and respond by automating the on-demand, social context of Co-Creation Labs ensuring they are all inclusive, not exclusive.

“Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, to seek new potential, and to act.”    —Ai Weiwei, China’s most famous international artist

Is your leadership culture ready to adopt Co-Creation Labs? If not, what’s getting in the way? Please share your opinions about what works and what doesn’t regarding Co-Creation Labs for leader development.

Until next time….

Laci Loew, Vice President Talent Management Practice and Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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