This decade has been that of the Millenials. In the past few years, cities have been going to great lengths to invest in their young population - their students, their workforce, and their “creative class.”
But there is a challenge. As much as we need input from Millennials to design better policies that match their approach - most engagement projects fail to get their advice. How can this be different in your city? How can you bridge the generational gap?
Millennials do not engage
Local governments have found that the interests of the young populations are not as straightforward as those of other population groups. Their approach is different, their expectations are higher, and the things that affect them are not easily predicted.
Young residents don’t respond to traditional engagement methods, and even when they do - their opinions do not always come across as well-defined bottom lines, but rather as a complex mix of angles.
After several projects, here are some of our insights on how to kick-off a strong millennial-focused collaboration.
Millennials are looking for meaning. Perhaps more than the other population groups - millennials are ideal driven, and so every engagement process should be grounded in a shared outcome to which they can connect. Is it increasing job opportunities? Encouraging local volunteering? Preventing brain-drain? Developing community?
A good way to spark this process is by first defining your success, and then asking about the way to reach it. At Insights, we believe that a good question asks the community to consider what changes are needed today to achieve the desired outcomes of tomorrow. A good question must communicate your idea of a desirable outcome. The process of defining success is a collaborative one, and would best happen with your main staff.
An important part of every engagement is distinguishing your “knows” from your “don’t-knows”. Put everything on the table: What variables do you care about, what is their value today and what would be their optimal value in your state-of-success? Can there be any other KPIs that you have previously overlooked? Know where you are standing today.
In Tel Aviv, for example, it was important for the managers to understand what would make people come to the centre . In Jerusalem, they wanted to make young families stay in the city. In both case studies, cities openly explained their circumstances, experiences, outcomes and areas open for new decisions.
Don’t think alone. Thinking together with your colleagues and residents has two main benefits; First, others will often be able to offer solutions you haven’t thought about
yourself. Second, inviting residents to join the thinking process will not only make them feel included, but also responsible. People have more respect for what they feel they helped create.
There are the usual methods: mailing lists, sharing on social networks or a text message. But, you can also physically meet the community. In Tel Aviv, representatives of the city actually took to the streets, met people and typed their answers on iPads, and the municipality also organized events with attractions for young parents.
We’ve heard it before: policy-makers see their residents as key stakeholders and think that they are including their perspectives in their projects.
But here’s the thing: assuming isn’t enough anymore. If you don’t ask, you won’t get answers. In whatever way you can - talk with your residents. Get creative - host a conference, a roundtable, or hit the streets, create opportunities to meet the people you are representing. Don’t forget to include all of their input in the Insights platform!
With our platform - you will reach bottom-line insights in no time at all. You won’t have to read through thousands of wordy responses, but rest assured that our algorithm has!
But what happens after you get the insights? We always recommend closing the loop by reading through the insights of your young residents and sharing a few of the conclusions you’ve reached.
Each participant you have listed on the Insights website can receive personal feedback on their impact. Closing the circle with participants has many advantages. This is the only way to get participants to help you a second time and to make them feel meaningful.
Managers now understand that in order to crack complex issues and find innovative solutions, the cycle of thinking must be broadened. With millennial, the challenge is even greater. The ability to open the thinking allows you to decide better, and to harness them to your plans later on.