All posts in Community Engagement

Why staff, stakeholders and community are better at innovation: 5 Insights

Frank wore high-vis and a shaggy beard. He worked with his hands. And he managed his crew with an iron fist. He was 50-plus and locked into a rut.

He did not look like the face of innovation.

But in Frank’s words … why wouldn’t we innovate? We have a legacy to leave. We need to do better.

Across from him at the stakeholder event, sat Joe. Joe wore a buttoned-down shirt and closely-cropped hair. An accountant by trade, he trusted numbers. He was experienced and weary. Set in a process-oriented world.

He also did not look like the face of innovation.

But in Joe’s words … why wouldn’t we try?

With the right environment of engagement, Joe then did what so many managers struggle to do. He assessed the challenges and opportunities. Scanned the globe for the latest innovations, and then developed a new financially-viable solution to waste.

He’d worked out market demand and customer needs, product development requirements and the parameters for a pricing model. It was an obvious solution to a problem that the client had not fully understood.

It was easy for him. Because he was the customer.

It was easy for Joe and Frank because they weren’t the managers running a business and managing internal processes and systems.

Being outside the managerial framework and outside the organisation meant they were free. Free to think. Free to innovate. Free to apply an outside-in approach that can only be achieved through community and stakeholder engagement and market research.

There are countless more stories: the development of new app that will streamline compliance processes costs and save millions to an energy organisation, creation of a centralised system to map capability to automate HR processes, financial commitment by disparate parties to create a regional ecosystem to drive innovation on the ground.

In working across innovation, digital economies and smart city work across the country, here are 5 key insights:

  1. People are more innovative than you’d think – if you ask them for ideas rather than feedback. The community and stakeholders are far too often asked to comment on someone else’s ideas when, as a customer or community member and buyer or user, they may have better insights on need.
  2. People with less, and with greater challenges to overcome are often more likely to think creatively – mostly because they’ve needed to. Look at any regional city who’s grappled with fluctuations in the commodities markets to examples.
  3. Thinking innovatively takes more than buzzwords – people need a framework with objective information and assessment from which to start.
  4. Bringing Innovations to life takes much more than an off-the-shelf strategy – you need to build capacity and ecosystems, especially at a city-wide or regional level. Consider design thinking, derive thinking, customer experience, community experience mapping and feasibility
  5. Staff can be more radical in their approaches than managers. Managers often focus on the obstacles rather than the opportunities, and spend too much time worrying about how to gain staff buy-in and then lose their ability to take risk. Being at the frontline also puts staff closer to the root problems and brings them face-to-face with potential opportunities.

Articulous is the premier community and stakeholder engagement firm in the country and consults to the highest levels of government in both Australia and New Zealand. Their corporate clients have included several in the ASX top 50.

Their innovation work includes digital transformation of cities and regions, adapting planning schemes and products and services to meet climate change, and leading corporate organisations through a managed process of product, service and cultural innovation.

Let’s talk Citizens’ Juries – with Max Hardy

Citizens’ Juries have proven to be quite versatile for a range of issues and decisions. More recently I have seen some citizens’ juries address more open ended questions, providing directions for long term planning, and identifying principles to inform policy development.

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Good Engagement Practice leads to Safer Communities.

Articulous has been fortunate to be working on a number of projects in 2017 in the Rockhampton and Yeppoon areas and our best wishes go out to residents affected by flooding as a result of Cyclone Debbie.

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Could a conversation with a computer change how we engage?

Conversational User Interfaces (CUIs), more commonly known as voice recognition tools or chatbots, have big implications for engagement professionals, and we should be excited – very excited. The question on my lips is not whether the rise of conversational interfaces can help us to engage, but how we can best use them to engage in meaningful ways.

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Citizen Democracy – making it work for Australians

This appears to be the most opportune time in modern history for citizen based democratic processes to become more prevalent. As perhaps illustrated by a rise in populist politics like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, that pay little regards to complexities, citizens are seeking answers that they are yet see from mainstream politics. However, this potential comes with limitations.

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Could non-verbal expressions add value to an engagement campaign?

Communication is so much more than the spoken word. While many of us like to verbalise how we feel or think, it’s often the expressions that go with our words that add meaning. The question begs then, could we analyse only those expressions to gather rich and meaningful data?

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What will be your Project Legacy?

If I mention the term project legacy, what do you think of? A statue? A plaque? Maybe it’s just the evidence of the project itself? Creating a legacy is so much more than the tangible results that are left behind on construction projects. Long after your team has left a project behind, they can (and should) leave a legacy.

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Consultation does not necessarily mean that the community gets what it wants.

There have been a few projects in the media of late where community groups have lamented a lack of consultation on projects prior to delivery. Many of these projects have centred on construction and development but a few have involved policy development in areas as diverse as energy, water supply and even the definition of marriage. However diverse the topics, one thing stood out as being in common.

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Why a Sesame Street explanation of Empathy Should be at the Centre of your Community Engagement Practice

In community engagement, we talk a lot about collecting people’s ideas and feedback. We talk about the power of active listening. But, if you really believe in community and engaging at a deeper, more meaningful level, then empathy should be the key focus throughout your planning, strategising and most importantly-engagement activity.

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Facing the Music can build Community Trust

I recently had the pleasure of travelling throughout the Surat Basin in south west Queensland with a client of Articulous for a week, facilitating community information sessions. There were a few key lessons that I took away from that week that I thought were worth sharing, purely from a practical perspective.

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Big Data or Human Data?

Much is made of big data and data-driven communication. But so very little is spoken of human data. So what is the difference?

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Does Online Community Engagement just mean having a Facebook page?

It can, but it doesn’t have to. There are heaps of tools, here are just some and how they’re being used.

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How to stop the Conversation Block!

Some people thrive on blank slates. Others respond better if they are given context, background and solutions. Either way you need to know your objectives and stimulate the conversation.

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New York, Where a City’s Identity Lies in its Community

New York is intricate, alive, passionate, and evolving. What became clearer to me on this journey was how the decisions of the community can have long-lasting and positive effects on a city’s identity.

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How can I create a Pokemon world for my project?

Pokemon GO has turned the world nuts. It’s officially the biggest online craze to hit the real world. And has brought the augmented world to the mainstream public.

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Communication Trends for the New Financial Year

Planning for next financial year’s communication program. When it comes to choosing the right strategies and tools that will deliver value for money, consider these trends...

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A Community Project gone right!

It draws people in without any visible signage or rules, it somehow intuitively speaks to people about how to participate.

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Online Engagement and the Online Disinhibition Effect

The online disinhibition effect is a loosening of social restrictions and inhibitions that would otherwise be present in normal face-to-face interactions.

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Public Meetings – the good, the bad and the ugly

Public meetings. Ugghhhh. We often try to avoid them, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve also seen them work really well.

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