Our week of local government introspection continues with part four today, and as yesterdays post seemed at first to be similar to one earlier in the week, so today’s touches on yet remains separate to another post, namely that around digital engagement and innovation. Before exploring this link let’s start at the basics.
Starter for ten: What is engagement and why bother with it? A pair of very simple questions perhaps but worth asking. Engagement in relation to local government centres around how we involve local people in the planning, running and evaluation of our services, and comes in a number of forms and methods. Popular engagement techniques include surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, workshops and interviews, but can also be as creative as World Cafes, PinPoint, Open Space facilitation or Planning for Real.
As for why, well if you have to ask this then perhaps you’ve not been around local government for too long. The business case is fairly simple: firstly we are told we have to, secondly it helps us builds a two-way relationship with residents and thirdly good engagement actually opens up a huge world of knowledge which we otherwise may not find out about.
We’ve often remarked that you should never throw away your drainpipe trousers as sooner or later they will come back into fashion, and so it seems to be the case with approaches to community engagement. There is no one single way of doing this, and so successive governments have tried various ways to encourage or force local authorities and residents to engage with each other. (more…)