A journey from arrogance to intimacy
Traditional, old-world government was about arrogance and control: we’re in charge, the public are problematic and it’s best to leave it to the experts.
This model doesn’t work and isn’t acceptable; more and more us are agreed on that. But how far have we actually moved? The vast majority of engagement, even the engagement we hold up as being a model for success, is restrictive and inflexible. It gives the public limited opportunities and rarely the chance to co-design the process. And ultimately, even when the process is transparent and fair, it’s still those on the ‘inside’ that make the decisions.
There’s a stage beyond this limited listening and limited flexibility, one were democracy is co-designed, co-managed and co-owned. In this model, engagement happens as a partnership, community knowledge is valued alongside ‘expert’ knowledge and citizens are able to develop engagement processes that work for the community not just the civil servant. Above all, decisions are open and made by consensus.
Now this process isn’t perfect and it certainly isn’t easy. But there’s plenty of evidence that involving people in the decisions that affect their lives results in better policy, better outcomes and lower delivery costs.
Are you involved in pubic engagement in a government department, local government or public agency? Where do you fit on our infographic?