Co-development workshops – the practice of collective intelligence

Article written by Veronique Denant – CFR Global Executive Search France.

Co-development workshops are an excellent tool to help an individual to develop professional practice and find solutions.  At the same time, they can benefit the whole organization by building a spirit of solidarity between employees, promoting collaboration and enabling empowerment.

A client recently asked me to set up a co-development workshop for its high potential employees and I would like to share my views on this practice and its benefits.

First of all, what is co-development?

Co-development is a training approach for people who believe they can learn from each other to improve and consolidate their practice.  It was developed in Canada in the 1990s by Adrien Payette and Claude Champagne.  Its founding principles are that practice produces knowledge that science cannot produce and learning professional practice is learning to act.

How does a co-development session work?

A session typically lasts 90 – 120 minutes.  Participation is voluntary and sessions typically have 6-8 delegates, with no hierarchical link to each other.

Only one issue per session is dealt with.

The method is very structured and each session includes 5 steps.

Before the first phase, each participant quickly outlines explains his/her or her project, current concern or problem is an obstacle to. The subject presented by the participant has an impact on his/her personal development and it is this relationship to the difficulty that is at the heart of a co-development session. A brainstorming session is held after which all attendees vote for a topic. Often, the degree of urgency and importance guides the choice of the chosen topic. The person whose issue is chosen, becomes the client. As for the other members of the group, they take on the role of consultants. In addition, a third person, the Facilitator, ensures that the principles of confidentiality, trust and the willingness of participants to learn are respected.

  1. In the First phase, the Client details the problematic issues from which they want to take a step back in order to be more effective.
  2. The Second phase consists of clarification by the consultants who formulate very factual questions in order to explore and clearly understand the problem yet without passing any judgment.
  3. The Third phase is contractualization by the client who submits his application.
  4. The Fourth phase sees the consultants start to propose solutions.
  5. The Final phase consists of the development of an action plan by the client, incorporating the proposals of the consultants.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are numerous for the Client, Consultants and the Organisation and include enabling everyone to learn from the experience of others.  Co-development promotes greater awareness, and hence personal change.  Each participant widens their understanding and can envisage different ways of doing things. The workshops lead to greater solidarity between people, promote a spirit of cooperation, autonomy, initiative and empowerment.

Who can benefit from it?

The approach can be particularly beneficial to companies which are undergoing major transformations.  It also allows companies to develop cross-functionality and to strengthen the cohesion of its employees, but above all to give meaning to everyone’s work by relying on the strength of individuals. The words of the founders of the method, Payette and Champagne are very clear:-

Practice has knowledge that science does not produce“.

If the subject interests you, do not hesitate to contact ALPHEE by


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