I’ve been working for Participation Cymru now for three years, but in a month’s time I’ll be starting a new job with the Wales Audit Office’s Good Practice Exchange as a Knowledge Exchange Officer, so some would say that I’ve left it a bit late to undertake Participation Cymru’s accredited public engagement training! Whilst I feel confident working in the field of participation, I still picked up lots of really useful tips about how I can ensure that I engage more effectively in the future.
I found the ‘drilling down’ section of the course the most eye-opening, which is quite scary on reflection as its key to public engagement. It allows practitioners to ensure they’re drawing the right conclusions from the work that they’re undertaking.
The course outlined three steps for drilling down
- Gathering a wide range of information: It’s essential that we’re open to a wide range of perspectives – we need to be starting from a blank sheet of paper.
- Probe and check: We look at the responses and the conclusions that we’ve drawn from them to double check that we understand the points that are being made.
- Prioritise, or come to conclusion: We have an informed scope of responses.
This fit the description of the funnel that we were given – being open at the start, and then refining the information so that we have focussed information at the end of the process.
All this sounds like it should be obvious, but after the first two days of the course I feel much better prepared to put all this in to practice, especially as we were given participatory techniques that we could use to make it happen. Tools like Snot Man (which was invented by Vicky Butler and its my personal favourite, where we ask what’s ‘snot fair’, with answers given on green post-it’s the colour of snot – classy!) can be used to generate feedback, and tools such as ranking techniques or value continuum (where people order themselves in a line, with each end representing opposite extremes of opinion) can be used to prioritise responses.
My colleague Sarah Ball also attended the course and is going to blog next week about what she learnt from the course, so I’m intrigued to hear how her learning from the course differs from mine!