Civic Engagement: 10 Questions to Shape an Effective Plan (epub)

There are lots of ways to engage your public. But what does it mean to "engage?"



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March 14, 2017

“Engagement” can mean many things. As used in this publication it means “to work together so as to move forward,” just as two gears engage in a mechanical process to move production forward.

Why engage? When governments and citizens work well together, better and more sustainable decisions get made. Yet many managers fear public engagement, being all too aware of the times that the gears do not mesh smoothly, conflict flares, and elected officials and citizens become frustrated or angry.

The fact is, successful public engagement doesn’t “just happen.” As with any process or project, preparation and planning make for a better result. And like other processes, effective public engagement requires a system—one that takes into account the people, values, information, and issues involved; careful choice of the structure for interaction; and planned maintenance or follow up. That system needs to be integrated in a coherent way with the other systems used for decisions within the community. You, the public, and your elected officials all need to understand how “the engagement system” is intended to work.

The ten questions in this e-book are designed to help you use your existing planning and project management skills to more effectively plan and manage a public engagement process.

The 10 Questions

  1. Why do we want to engage?
  2. Where are we starting from?
  3. How do we need to engage?
  4. How at this point in time can we engage?
  5. How can we keep the process moving?
  6. What resources do we need?
  7. What contingencies might arise?
  8. How can we prepare to meet them?
  9. How will we recognize progress?
  10. What will we do when we're done?


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