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Fed Up With Civic Engagement?

It's Time To Rethink The Way We Engage Citizens

August 6, 2018
Methods

When Insights.US was launched in late 2010, many viewed “public participation” as a waste of time. They were mostly right. Nobody really assessed the impact of townhalls and idea contests on decision making. Instead of grabbing wisdom, it created noise. Instead of facilitating change, it delayed it. Many of us were so excited from the participation of citizens, that we didn't ask what happened after. 

Let's admit: traditional models of public engaement failed to deliver significant impact on decisions. It's time to look for new alternatives, that can actually generate value, build trust and improve communication.  

From Old to New: Inclusive Planning

Inclusive decision making is not about creating forums  for angry citizens to shout. Rather than listening to complaints, we should enable leaders to take action. Let's replace civic duty with effective decisions; Let’s become obsessed with decisions, not with engagement; Let’s stop looking for ways to make angry citizens heard, and avoid anger in the first place.

Inclusive decision making is a process that utilizes the group's knowledge and diversity as an asset to achieve results. We should be looking for qualitative insights that can help executives deliver effective change faster. It is all about leveraging the knowledge of our people, and making them part of the challenge.

Five Conceptual Shifts

From ideas to insights: An endless list of ideas or votes are superfluous, but bottom-line, actionable insights are at the very core of excellent decision making.
From engagement to effectiveness: "Engagement" is not a goal, but rather as a means. We want to see effective change, which can generate measurable results.
From people to partners: The insightful planner is not asking the "public" as a whole, but instead is creating dialogue with those who have relevant knowledge.
From opinions to knowledge: The process of making decisions should not look for opinions, such as in political surveys, but rather knowledge about what works.
From passivity to activism: Merely asking the public for advice is not enough. It is crucial to update advice-givers on how they have made a difference.

These five conceptual differences help define what to ask, who to ask, how to ask and when to ask. They result in the formation of an entirely new planning process.

What does it take to start?

Insights.US was conceived upon the desire to provide top managers with quickly and easily obtained quality insights from their stakeholders: thousands of roundtables, townhalls and focus groups… all in one click!

With our free tool, you can now cross the boundaries of town halls, while expanding the circle of thinkers. For the first time, you can also update all participants with their personal impact.

Democracy In The Digital Age

The inflation of public participation projects did not really build trust over the last 50 years. Civil servants perceive civic engagement as a democratic obligation, rather than an executive tool to generate value. This can, and should, change. 

Inclusive planning backed with smart technologies can enable executives to gain valuable insights without the hassle of listening to thousands of answers. This can help you deliver results. And can help citizens become part of change.

Gal Alon
Gal founded Insights.US in 2010.

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