Public involvement isn’t some stupid survey

“Didn’t get to attend yesterday’s public workshop? Share your ideas for the Park on our online survey.”

It sounds good, doesn’t it? “We held a workshop! We let everyone else give input with an online survey! We’re being open to people!” 

No.  Asking people to fill out your survey or attend your public meeting or participate in a workshop is old-style “public involvement.” It’s maintaining control, filtering all ideas through your organization, putting yourself at the center. 

And it’s the opposite of Idea Friendly. Idea Friendly is turning everyone loose to try all the ideas, then helping each person find the resources needed to actually do it, no matter what you think of the idea.

That’s the hard part isn’t it? Letting go of power and allowing people to try ideas that aren’t yours. Maybe they’re wrong or even wrong-headed, but your job isn’t to be the judge. 

We don’t get to judge because judging is actually a waste of time. When we activate the whole crowd to test and try ideas, they’ll find out what actually works much quicker than we could hold enough committee meetings to sort through the ideas and judge them. So if your job isn’t judging, what is your job now? 

Your job is to be the connector, Building Connections between people and the resources they need to take action. 

We are in the middle of an epic shift in power from formal organizations to individuals. The only way we will survive as small towns is to be open to new ideas. Traditional organizations and the people who work with them will have to turn their thinking completely around. 

Idea Friendly isn’t asking people for their ideas to incorporate into a formal process. Idea Friendly is unleashing the people to act together, informally, outside of that comfortable, traditional, formal, stifling, deadening “public involvement” process. 

Keep shaping the future of your town,

PS –  Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to ever implement what we talk about here? Deb has been thinking about why reading our emails still matters when you’re too busy to take action. Here’s what she said