Engagement game reports

Below are links to blog items about the engagement game

Designing mixed media engagement, with Government


Drew Mackie and I have been funded over the past year to developed a game for designing engagement, by what is now the Department of Justice, previously Department for Constitutional Affairs. The other day we went back with a version that aims to meet current Government interest in using a mix of social media and other methods.

The first version of the game focussed on face-to-face engagement methods, and had quite a complicated board - as you can see from this report of an earlier session.

This time we added in blogs, online forums, MySpace, wikis, social bookmarking and other goodies from the world of Web 2.0, to complement workshops, exhibitions and deliberative processes. We also made the sequence of play simpler, and were able to bring in elements from the Digital Challenge game developed for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Ian Johnson and members of his team took 90 minutes out of their busy departmental reorganisation schedule to develop a scenario around energy policy, and then set-to choosing appropriate methods to engage a wide range of interests, Drew livened things up by throwing some challenges into the emerging storyline ( new climate change study produces gloomier results).

Dcagame2We felt it all went rather well, and were delighted to get confirmation of that on the new blog started by one of the players, Jeremy Gould, who runs the websites for the department:

I can see how the game would have real application within government, as well as outside, in helping policy teams to understand the importance of designing engagement programmes strategically and considering all possible options before they go diving in.

In particular, the inclusion of many social media methods into the game was instructive - not least because it teaches participants that none of this is an add on and that all activity requires resource, commitment and time.

Since Jeremy is also helping Cabinet Office assess the opportunities for government communications of social media we were doubly pleased.

Our next step is to tidy up the various versions of the game, and make them available on this site. Meanwhile you can download, as pdfs, the game cards and the game instructions.

Our experience is that effective engagement is as much about attitude as method. Too often consultants are hired to run programmes with the client at arms length ... with the result that when the results come in the response is inadequate. That's even more likely when new media is part of the mix. OK ... I know they are paying us ... but it is heartening that DCA/Department of Justice officials are prepared to try the techniques that we and others are developing, and that through Jeremy they are out there actually using some of the new ways of engaging.

Gaming at Together We Can

Together we can

Drew Mackie and I ran two sessions of the Engagement Game yesterday at the Together We Can conference organised by the Home Office - and generally felt that it went pretty well with about 15 people in one workshop and 20 in the other.

The format was similar to the first session we ran with Civil Servants back in February. We first invented a scenario - a goal for the engagement process. In one case it was illegal use of motorbikes on open space and in another "youth nuisance". The task was then to plan a process by which a whole range of different interests - from government departments through to local groups - might be involved in tackling the issue.

As before, we split into four team, each dealing with different phases of the engagement process - inception, preparation, involvement and delivery/evaluation. However we improved the run of play by tailoring instructions for each group, and controlling the rate at which we handed out cards so people were not too overwhelmed by bits of paper.

One of the first tasks for groups was to decide on purpose cards, which indicated how much or how little involvement people were going to be offered in their phase of the process ... information, consultation, involvement in decision making, collaboration, empower,

They then went on to work out which groups should be involved and finally what methods to use, governed by a budget set by the preparation group.I've uploaded the game instructions and cards, with links below. I should emphasise, however, that the game is still very much under construction. Drew and I will be tidying things up into a more comprehensive package, and looking for more opportunities to pilot. If you are interested, do contact us. We can spend some time on this, because game development is supported by the Innovation Fund of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

DeanthugginsAt one of the sessions I was delighted to meet Dean T. Huggins, a trainer and consultant specialising in community engagement, who is a co-author of the excellent course being run by the Home Office. You can download the materials here. One of our ideas with the game has always been that it can be a '"front end" to other material, with links from the cards to other resources, so I was really pleased Dean thought that could work well.

DrewmackieI also persuaded Drew to give his view on camera on how things went, and what changes are needed. We only had about an hour today to run the session, and we would really like to thank those who participated for compressing some rather complex tasks into a tight timetable. But then that's usually the case with real engagement processes too.... Thanks also to Justin Merry of the Home Office who helped us with facilitation, and to Charles Woodd and the rest of the team there for inviting us along to the conference. Click the photos for video - which needs Quicktime (download free). Comments below welcome from anyone who participated - and indeed anyone else.

Engame3006-2.zip Engagement game instructions and cards (zipped folder of pdfs)
More photos
Guide to Effective Participation
Earlier session