How can participation create improvements and efficiencies?

I’ve blogged about the different work we are doing on supporting participation in policy design. Participation is a good thing in its own right and creates positive benefits in terms of social integration, but some people think it’s not the most efficient way to get things done. That’s why, in this post, I want to focus on how it creates improvements and efficiencies in how we work.

1. Supporting residents as policymakers

Through citizens assemblies, youth assemblies and other policy co-design with residents, the processes we have developed enables us to:

  • Anticipate contested issues and build consensus on how to tackle them. This reduces the risk of changes to services & policy being reversed because they don’t work with residents in practice.
  • Develop a rounded overview of the different levers that each player can use to develop solutions to the issue, be it the council, businesses, civil society or residents. This reduces the dependency on the council having to solve everything.
  • Design solutions that work for everyone because of the representative approach we’ve taken. This reduces the risk of solutions that only work for those that are the most active and engaged in their community as important as they are.
  • Stress test options with residents by inviting into the policy design process, staff with insight on feasibility, people with lived experience and innovative organisations who can stretch the art of the possible

2. Supporting residents as budget makers

The participatory budgeting process we’ve developed ensures we can

  • Support community-led solutions that work for specific neighbourhoods. This invests directly into the community for projects that can deliver visible impact on the ground and benefit from promotion by the council and partners in the neighbourhood
  • Provide a testbed of small scale projects that could be scaled in the future. This acts as live R&D into what works on issues that matter to residents before investing further through more traditional forms of funding to formal organisations.
  • Uses a digital platform that can simplify & automate the process of crowdsourcing ideas, voting, participatory budgeting and live collaboration
  • Stress test options with residents by inviting into the policy design process, staff with insight on feasibility, people with lived experience and innovative organisations who can stretch the art of the possible

3. Developing the participation skills of residents

Developing the skills of residents to support participation themselves be it as citizen scientists, peer researchers or champions:

  • Invests in local people supporting participation in a way that values their skills & networks and develops their employability skills, and reduces the need for intermediaries, while developing a local participation sector with our partners
  • Accelerates getting to the people we need to engage. Councils can find certain people “hard to reach” but that is because they don’t know communities well enough. By using residents with strong social networks, we can fast track that.
  • Diversifies the ways in which we support participation. Engagement methods can be designed in ways that don’t always recognise the ways that different communities want to participate. By supporting residents themselves to facilitate, the methods used will better adapt to their communities. This is particularly the case with young people

How do you help make sure that your participation work with residents makes things more effective and more efficient?

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noelito

Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese