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Denis Cristol is  the Director of Engineering and Training Systems for the CNFPT (Centre National de la Fonction Publique Territoriale). He has a Phd in education. He is currently conducting research with the CREF of Paris Ouest Nanterre on informal learning and the training of managers and leaders. He is a member of the scientific committee of the journal SAVOIRS and has contributed to the writing of 15 books on management, teaching and learning. He is a member of SOL France and introduces U Theory in CNFPT.


Co-design, consists of conducting a process of developing a product or service, most often innovative, involving the end user. It has become one of the key pillars of the transformation of pedagogical culture. The CNFPT is the training center dedicated to the territorial public service. It is made up of 2300 agents, mobilizes 17 000 trainers and trains 900 000 trainees each year. It provides training on over 250 different trades. It is engaged in a transformation of its pedagogical practices to respond to the transformation needs of territorial communities themselves in motion. The  move is initiated from the moment when the CNFPT  president decided to initiate a profound transformation of its pedagogical practices. Several initiatives have been supported :

  • First one : the creation of national projects involving projectbased work. Different benchmarks have gradually been oriented towards an openness to collaborative practices.
  • A second one : In order to involve stakeholders, the creation of a structuring project "shared pedagogical culture" and its sociodigital tool the "pedagogical cooperative" has enabled the development of more than 350 active teaching resources. These resources helped to facilitate the organization of major events by the in-house actors While helping teams to learn about insurance in terms of active, creative and collaborative pedagogies.
  • A third one was triggered by the project to renovate the training areas and the creation of a learning lab and codesign rooms. Teaching methods have been revitalized with regard to the co-design practices that have been progressively deployed in the new rooms.

The next move of the collaborative culture continues with the setting up of a first university of innovation, inspired by theory U and condensed numerous know-how in collective intelligence and co-design deployment and relay methods internally experienced.

Keywords : co-design – learning lab  - training – action-learning


Dunne, D., & Martin, R. (2006). Design thinking and how it will change management education: An interview and discussion. Academy of Management Learning & Education5(4), 512-523.

Scharmer, C. O., & Senge, P. M. (2009). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges.

Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Crown Pub.

Co-design, a new way of doing pedagogy

Co-design, consists of conducting a process of developing a product or service, most often innovative, involving the end user. The co-design-practices is inherited from a dual tradition of co-engineering invented in the automotive industry and design thinking promoted by the American firm Ideo, this design mode aims to broaden the design process an object, a service, a software, a public solution, all the stakeholders within a company or administration, users, the entire value chain, To related and inspiring actors such as start-ups, or laboratories. This mode of design accords equal importance to the process of creation as to the final object created. It participates in a systemic vision of the world in which the quality of relations and the fluidity of information are the values sought. Co-design is distinct from design, which is an art of design invented in parallel with the first industrial revolution, design was first a practice and an ideology at the service of mass production. The design aims to give form to the object created for the service of uses. It is at the beginning of the XIXth century a bridge between the production that moves away and specializes and the user who loses the control of what it consumes. Design has seen a renewed interest since the early 2000s and the popularization of its practices and ways of thinking by what Tim Brown, President of IDEO, calls design thinking. Design thinking,  is a mode of relationship to reality more experimental and an inductive mode of action that starts from user experience until the prototype of the concept and the object, which triumph in all areas.

How does it work?

The co-design claims to act both on the final service and the process that generates it. It respects steps and a framework of action that ensure that all actors are involved :  decision-makers, funders, sponsors, responsible for designing object or service, director and user. This framework starts from an "authorization perimeter" that defines the torsion limits of the current situation, or the funds that can be committed. Once the authorization perimeter has been validated, a step of taking into account the real, its irritants is committed. This stage involves different modalities, users can tell their uses of the object or service, an immersion can be organized as close as possible to the situation, a preliminary study can be carried out, to refine a question of work. Then sources of inspiration, learning visits, or times of creativity can be introduced, to enrich the stage of ideation. At this point, all the ideas that can contribute to the advancement of the work question are expressed. This phase of divergent creativity produces a maximum of materials, concepts, pseudo-tracks, allowing then to develop a prototype. This prototype is the beginning of proof that a new use can be put in place. This prototype is subject to criticism, bonus, remarks and requirements of "persona" (imaginary person holding the situation), or to extreme users, very picky about the details. The prototype thus kneaded is revised and the subject of a second proposal, also questioned by peers, users, experts, to ensure the resistance to a variety of use; This prototype can then be submitted to the producer of the object or service. Throughout this process a designer or facilitator will guarantee the proper respect of the steps of the co-design process.

Implementation in the structures?

Several structures have embarked on co-design project. The first ones launched in the project  are based on prototyping kits, equipped rooms, designers and projects Concrete way to master this new way of designing training schemes, or public policies. Teams are directly interested in these approaches to meet a strongly expressed need for innovation on the part of local and regional authorities. The co-design is supported by the learning laboratory, a college of directors and managers, an offer of training and resources for innovation that prefigures a Harmonized Internal Support Resources for the " Accompaniment. Moreover, beyond these pioneering structures and the first realizations, 14 structures that engage in a team, beginning with workshops, designing action plans for the development or design of rooms, and finally conducting team-based training and action to learn about practices and issues of the co-design.

What impacts on traditional modes of education?

The co-design as implemented transforms the traditional modes of teaching.

First, it re-examines the relation to the community by the need to have a limited authorization perimeter of the training. The CNFPT focuses on training and accompanies community teams to take action on the problems they face without replacing them. The CNFPT brings methodology, training and experience, but it is the community that transposes the action into its context.

Then, co-design is expressed in spaces with renewed purpose. These spaces are often larger to accommodate larger groups, operate more horizontally and mixing a variety of audiences. The pedagogical approach chips the hierarchical codes and places each one on an equal footing of dignity of participation, each one being at the same time resources and projects for the others.

Finally, co-design can mobilize numerical approaches to facilitate exchanges between small groups, allow for parallel processes, cross-reflection and accelerate the sharing of ideas through groupware.

Thus by acting on training-action formats, large mixed groups, and introducing the power of collaborative digital, the pedagogy implemented is placed singularly in a position to stimulate collectives to serve the general interest.

How can we grasp and use it for tomorrow and what service for local and regional authorities?

The activation of participatory methods in mixed groups, of peer training, also known as "peeragogy", using the potential for acceleration, dissemination of traceability, rapid access to digital information and leaving a great power of initiative Helps prepare minds for agile and confident approaches. This is what communities need to cope with the transformation of their territories today.

What is the complementarity between the Learning Laboratory and the co-design rooms?

The opening of the Learning Laboratory aims to accompany the transitions of local authorities through training in public innovation and to invent the pedagogical space of tomorrow through innovative educational experiments. This laboratory supports the co-design rooms of the structures. It houses the research of a PhD candidate on the impact of co-design on the development of digital practices, and on the understanding of the motivation to learn in regulatory training. It capitalizes practices, digital tools, experimental logs, seminar stories and protocols, it keeps in memory, the protocols of the actions carried out. Finally, and in particular with the support of the collaborative public e-community innovation and its 820 members, it is a resource center for co-design actors and a support for network professionals who wish to develop their skills.


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Moving from tradition to innovation: co-design and learning-labs as strategy for creative learning and knowledge-creation in training-centers
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