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Deliberative Engagement Top Tips for Councils

Deliberative forums seek the views of a diverse mix of everyday citizens

Insync’s research connects different aspects of your organisation to give you insights on employee, customer and other stakeholder values. The intention is to learn from those who understand your organisation differently than you do ― stakeholders, customers, employees, users, residents.

This provides new insights and paints a picture that helps your organisation achieve higher performance. Engaging people in surveys, focus groups and interviews are tried and true ways we do this.

In some circumstances it can be valuable to extend or enhance these insights through new methods. One such method Insync is supporting, is “invited” deliberative forums such as citizen panels or juries that seek the views of an inclusive randomly stratified sample.

The participants in a deliberative process aren’t those who always put up their hands to have a say about your business, services, policies or initiatives ― rather they’re a diverse mix of everyday citizens who are given briefings and asked to work together to respond to your chosen key question or “charge”.

The forums may run for a half day as an enriched focus group, or for whole days spread over a number of months. Recent high profile examples that have been in the media are a panel on obesity run by VicHealth, and the City of Melbourne’s People’s Panel on their 10-year financial plan.

The deliberative process is a transparent and collaborative probing method usually complementing broad exploratory and confirmatory approaches such as online tools and surveys.

To implement an effective deliberative process, we use the following three steps as a guide:

Step 1

Use of online tools or “game-like” approaches to explore broad community, staff and online population views and value drivers. You get a wide variety of useful perspectives.

Step 2

For the deliberative forum component, a well-briefed and randomly stratified sample meets to discuss a very important question and make a set of considered recommendations, based on exploring accessible in-depth information. Achieving a positive outcome here relies on the client organisation having a strong interest in genuinely collaborating with people beyond the organisation. Some tough decisions can be debated, for example, competing agendas, trade-offs, long-term budget planning, impact of revenue on services and option prioritisation.

Step 3

Based on forum recommendations, the final stage enables reality checking. Here we test key insights with a large diverse sample. This can occur via a variety of methods including online, paper, phone or panel.

Insync is also in a position to monitor what adds value to your organisation on an ongoing basis.

Well-constructed deliberative forums, alongside tailored online platforms and surveys, can demonstrate substantial and strategic engagement on important topics from an informed public.

Want to know more about deliberative techniques?

Talk to us today to learn more about how we can help you take the next step.

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