From making toast to Co-creation principles

How our Sydney based ‘Classroom of many cultures’ team ‘made toast’.

This is a design exercise that has been used to help people understand and solve complex problems, as through this you are able to look at the different components that make up a process. We decided to trial it as a way of mapping our co-creation process. (see Laura’s post on how she and Rebecca ‘made tea’ with AIJI, LAC and ACF).

So our first step was to write down on post-it notes what we saw as the key components of the co-creation process. We then put these up on the wall in a sequence which enabled us to see the different stages of the process.

These stages entailed:

  1. Identify people and formalise relationships
  2. Inventory and resources
  3. Internal sharing
  4. Pilot activities
  5. Document and assess feedback
  6. Share externally
  7. Evaluate

While here the stages are seen to be linear, we felt that in practice that this wouldn’t always be the case, that instead many of these steps would be cyclical. We used Wadsworths Cycle of Inquiry  to inform this. (Y.Wadsworth (2010) Building in Research and Evaluation – Human Inquiry for Living Systems Allen & Unwin, St Leonards NSW)


Wadsworth’s cycle of inquiry is an iterative process of continually planning, acting, observing and reflecting.

For us this serves as:

  • a useful tool to check on how these principles are being used.
  • a way of documenting the stages of the process; we might go around a cycle many many times.

We also identified a range of meta principles because we felt that these were central to the whole co-creation process and couldn’t be linked to just one stage.


These meta principles comprise:

  1. Relationships
  • Making space for acts of relating to people, place and culture
  • Developing and maintaining relationships.
  • Living, laughing and experiencing
  • reciprocal
  • messy
  • transparant
  • open to change
  • flexible
  • reflexive
  • based on care
  • respectful
  • acknowledging multiple and overlapping roles
  • acknowledging power relations
  • Maintaining open dialogue
  • Paying attention to lived experiences.
  1. Recognising multiple knowledges
  • Listening actively throughout the process
  • Ensure all voices are given space
  • Make space for multiple knowledges

Challenging linear methodologies

With some more reflection and refinement, the amazing Laura Hammersley transformed all these principles into the following diagram: