Because it’s not working. We all know that.
The ways, the methods, the assumptions that we rely on to do day-to-day democracy stuff – to figure out what people want their governments to do, to try to get them to understand why we’re building this or that, to get people involved in decisions the way we know we should…
Way too often, the only response we get is a useless response.
Our bigger problem, though, is the thousands that we don’t hear from. Who may see and understand things that we, the Insiders, are missing. Who have expertise and insights and experience of their own that could show us a way through the concrete walls of the tough problems that We the Insiders have been slamming our heads against for decades.
Those people are not failing to participate because they don’t care about the places where they live. They’re not failing to participate because they don’t care what we do.
They’re failing to participate because we’ve given them a pretty clear message that we don’t want them to have a meaningful role in the process.
But none of that has to happen. We can borrow a few tricks from businesses and from educators to turn that dysfunctional situation around, giving us not only happier residents, but more useful participation that makes our plans and decisions better.
In this book, we’ll do a brass-tacks examination of the ways that our usual public engagement assumptions and methods backfire on us. We’ll then walk through a more effective strategy for doing public engagement that gives both citizens and governments a better and more meaningful experience. We’ll conclude with some tactics for managing unproductive behavior and Crowdsourcing Wisdom when you find yourself stuck with some of our typical public meeting situations.