Getting more people involved in your policy making processes

The first of our Open Workshops in March, on the importance of Networks, next Tuesday, has sold out. The second on 8th March, which looks at the potential of new online networking tools to enhance policy making, is still open (details and booking form below the fold). It will look at how you can

So far the web has been poor to sporadic in generating useful thinking or deliberation of any kind. Furthermore consultation is perceived by politicians and civil servants alike as a statutory obligation, rather than a tool to help deliver them more useful public services. And yet websites like Mashable.com report more and more tools every day that can help to bring greater intelligence to bear on complex issues in ways that simple case studies find difficult to touch.The current model of injecting new thinking into government – think tanks – is expensive. And, frankly, they are unsustainable in local and devolved democratic spaces. They communicate with government in linear and discrete channels, far from the penetrating gaze of the public commons.

And they tend to consist of projects started and finished inside the impervious ‘college walls’ of an institution. There is little opportunity for engagement and contention once they are completed and the ‘process’ is ended. And the wider public is rarely engaged at any stage.

The increasingly ready availability of what we call ‘Open Source Analysis’ the construction and maintenance of ‘intelligent communities’ can have rich returns for policy makers. In effect this an opportunity to create new policy ‘elites’ in ‘open-gated colleges’ (outside beyond your organisation or department) where commitment is largely voluntary and open ended.

Where a small number of civil servants, think-tanks, academics and politicians had a monopoly on the detailed discussion of policy, now millions expect to be involved. This offers huge opportunities to anyone who understands what they are. And some not inconsiderable threats for those who don’t. If you want to come along and get involved there are still some places left for our Belfast workshops on the eighth.

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