Before exploring different methods of engaging citizens and consumers, it is first important to establish:
1. The scope. Ask yourself:
- Is it clear how the engagement exercise can make a difference?
- It there demand or interest from potential participants to get involved?
- Are there sufficient resources to make the process work properly?
2. The purpose. Ask yourself:
- Is there a clear and well defined purpose for this digital engagement exercise?
- Is it clear what you want to achieve?
- Are the purpose, outputs and outcomes understood and supported by all relevant stakeholders?
3. The participants. Ask yourself:
- Who are your participants?
- Should the exercise be open (anyone who wants to can participate) or selective (you choose the number and types of participant)?
- What are the motivations and barriers to involvement?
- Should participants be invited (i.e. self selecting) or recruited (i.e. representative)?
- What role do you need participants to play (e.g. citizen, consumer or stakeholder)?
4. The context. Ask yourself:
- What opportunities or obstacles does the context present?
- What are the characteristics and capabilities of participants?
- What are the characteristics and capabilities of your organisation?
- What was the experience and outcomes of previous engagement exercises?
5. The follow-up. Ask yourself:
- How and how much will the results of the participation of citizens and consumers influence the decisions of your organisation, and how will this be communicated to participants?
- How can you provide feedback to participants on the results of their participation?
- How should the engagement process be evaluated?
For more information and guidance on planning an engagement process, see: www.peopleandparticipation.net