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Aligning Engagement with Function Over Form

We recently read a commentary by the Davenport Institute  – an NCDD organizational member – on their Gov 2.0 Watch blog remarking on an insightful article we think NCDD members would appreciate. The article has key insights about the importance of aligning engagement with the functions of government rather than its ever-shifting administrative structure, and how online engagement can help. We encourage you to read more below or find the original post here.


DavenportInst-logoContinuity in the Face of Change

One of the most common criticisms of government – especially in the age of technology – is a perceived resistance to change.  But change does bring disruption. As governments seek to become more innovative, as fiscal realities demand continue to require organizational restructuring, and as technological advances require flexibility with platforms and design, this can have real impact on a government’s community engagement.

Recently the Australian public sector blog The Mandarin took a look at how governments can keep well organized and clear channels of communication open in the face of such disruptions. The article notes:

Traditional face-to-face engagement processes are largely project based and the impact on the community is limited to some bewilderment at the new logos, and muttering about the cost. There may also be a knock on impact if there are major staff changes, if there is a hiatus in progress, or if the new department has changed priorities.

But the article goes on to describe how changing the focus and organization – not of the government but of the engagement – can lead to stronger, more sustainable relationships between governments and residents even in the face of change.  The solution focuses mainly on online strategies, but the general organization strategies could also apply in face-to-face engagement efforts, especially as those become institutionalized as part of a new culture:

Let’s face it, the community doesn’t actually care, by and large, which department they are talking to. It’s the issue that matters, so don’t align engagement efforts with administrative structures. Instead, align your engagement, and specifically online engagement efforts, with functions that you know will continue to exist regardless of the brand applied to them or the structure of their delivery in future governments.

If you are, for example, a state government department with responsibility for the environment, heritage, and primary industries, then establish an online engagement portal for each of these functions. Perhaps break them down further.

You can read more here.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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