The components of co‑production

The following are the ten essential elements that we have found should be present, for co‑production to be successful.



People’s knowledge and experience is valued equally, regardless of the role they hold.

  • ‘Lived’, ‘trained’, ‘professional’ and ‘personal’ experience are all used to get the best results
  • Power differences and hierarchies are acknowledged and addressed
  • When someone contributes, they get something in return
  • Everyone is treated with genuine care and respect


Breadth of participation is actively encouraged, and time is taken to show people they belong here.

  • Time is taken to map out everyone who might be affected, and should be involved
  • Consideration is made to how well each specific individual can represent a wider category of people
  • Regular reviews of participation take place, and action is taken if certain people aren’t involved or represented
  • People are asked about their needs, rather than assumptions being made.


Outcomes are developed through the process, not prescribed beforehand.

  • No one tries to ‘fix’ things – we explore the challenges, together
  • Curiosity and open-mindedness are encouraged and enabled
  • We trust the process and work with uncertainty
  • Things get messy before they start to make sense – this is ok


Barriers are removed and circumstances created so that people can truly connect with one another.

  • People have opportunities to come together and bring more of themselves, outside the limits of their day-to-day roles or labels
  • People feel safe and comfortable to share and take part in a meaningful, authentic way
  • Networks are formed which can last into the future
  • Feelings and emotions have a place and are welcomed


This is about clarity and accountability – ensuring everyone is on the same page.

  • Everyone is kept equally informed about the process, the purpose and the plan
  • Everyone knows what can and can’t be changed
  • The reasons behind decisions, and who made them, are recorded and available to all participants
  • Participants in the process, as well as the wider community, are informed of the results – “close the loop” and tell everyone where you’re up to, when they want to know, even if you haven’t finalised your plans.


The process allows everyone to be part of the creation of innovative solutions.

  • Everyone is seen as having the potential to be creative if the right circumstances are created
  • The process is genuinely interested in what everyone has to say – even if it is unexpected, inconvenient or expensive
  • Every participant has the possibility to reframe the questions that are asked
  • Facilitators want to know “what should we be asking you that we aren’t?”


This is about taking a strengths-based, ‘appreciative’ approach.

  • Challenges and difficulties are not ignored, but the focus is on what is already going well, and what could make things even better
  • Every person, project, service and organisation is seen as having valuable strengths and appreciation is demonstrated
  • People who take part in the process have a positive experience

Action focused

The process is used to improve or develop something that already exists, or to create something new.

  • The work has a real impact, and people will be able to notice this change
  • Everyone agrees together what “good” and “done” look like
  • Before we start, we make sure there that there is enough time, money and permission to do something


The process is considered in context, as part of everything around it, not as an isolated project.

  • Involvement goes beyond professionals and service users, and includes the wider community in which the project, service or organisation exists
  • Things that already exist in the community are developed and supported
  • New ideas are taken on in collaboration with the community
  • The work includes planning for the future, beyond this period of activity.


The focus is on testing, learning and improving through cycles of work, rather than on getting it right straight away.

  • Lessons are learned from each part of the process, and changes are made based on reflections
  • All learning is welcomed, and the need to make changes is seen as positive
  • Progress happens in small steps, planned together with everyone and based on what is present