Traditionally, engagement goals have included reaching the largest amount of people possible to get the most opinions. This can sometimes be a successful way of gaining insights, but recently there has been a shift towards focusing in on smaller, higher quality engagement pieces. This change is beneficial when looking for deeper insights and solution.
Deeper insights from small engagement
Smaller, deliberative engagement involves being with the audience you are engaging with, spending more time with each person and asking deeper questions. You can gain just as much data as you can with broad brush broadcasting, but the data looks different as a result. You may have 1000 people say they dislike an idea with broad engagement, but you may miss the reason why. The community perception is there, but that is about it. With small engagement, you gain insights on what works and what does not. With insights, you can gain solutions.
Details create the solution
It is important to use complex sources to reach the most effective solution, especially in complex situations. It is difficult to reach a solution when the problem is not truly understood. Deep, small engagement can identify the root of the problem. This is done by seeing what has been done right in the community’s eyes and what has been done wrong. This prevents fixing a problem that is not broken. Engaging with a smaller group also makes the people you are engaging with feel more important and encourages active participation. Finally, small, targeted engagement ensures that the correct group of people are having their opinions heard. If the situation is not relevant to a certain group, their opinion could backtrack the project.
While there are situations where it is beneficial to listen to the most amount of people as possible, sometimes the best solutions come from deep conversations with a few relevant community members.