A New Culture of Community Engagement

Community Engagement Culture & Actionable Insight

In a recent blog we discussed agility in public engagement and the need for a unified engagement approach that values insight over the act of data creation.  Here, we will take a closer look at what this means and how adjusting the culture of engagement has the power to accelerate trust building, efficiency, effectiveness, and true data-driven decision-making.

Community Engagement Culture & Challenges to the Status Quo

A community engagement paradigm shift that is more inclusive of agile values and principles is all about culture change, which is no small feat.  It is unsurprising that it took the 2020 global pandemic and landmark civil and political unrest to trigger cultural change at the government level.

One example of  how the 2020 pandemic operated as a driver of change in  the “culture” of community engagement has been the shift in legislation and practice from in-person to include virtual and/or hybrid public meeting formats.

Examples of this “cultural shift” in the field of community engagement include:

–  Policy: sunshine law updates incorporated virtual engagement tactics
–  Priorities/Oversight: showing an increased priority on equity and accountability
–  Roles & Responsibilities: accessibility and inclusion as an expectation

–  A new demand for virtual engagement options
–  An expectation for multilingual translations and interpretations
–  Multi-tactic approaches to engagement (text, phone, email, etc.)

Actionable Insight

According to the IBM Center for The Business of Government, insight is critical in the process of uncovering solutions and making decisions in the public sector

Insight offers the power to gain understanding from data, people, or a situation not immediately evident on the surface.  Insight enables leaders to uncover a solution and act based on keen and clear observation.  Observation, however, does not lead immediately to insight. Government leaders must make interpretations shaped by context, knowledge, and the experience of decision makers—implicit knowledge, often built up after years of experience. 

IBM Center for the business of government – Seven Drivers Transforming Government

An innovative community engagement process that places a high value on insight, that is both meaningful and relevant, is key to this cultural shift away from the activity of data generation.


Demanding Insight

With insight having such a major influence on more informed decision making, here are few other ways that PublicInput users are innovating their community engagement processes to place a higher demand on insight:

–  Development of community driven strategies that prioritize equity and leverage available insights to inform tactical approaches.
–  Leveraging technology for real-time interactive opportunities for feedback, engagement, and collaboration.

Read more about how local governments can set themselves up for data collection success by providing a consistent, accessible and predictable resident experience in our Collaborative Democracy eBook today.


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