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How can we engage effectively?
Maximise freedom to participate, but within limits
May 11, 2013 Leong D

As a government employee, I feel that my agency is very wary of public engagement because 1) it feels that the public will provide mostly irrelevant content that has little bearing on the issue at hand, and 2) it feels that the public may bash the agency. As such, it's important to the agency to set limits on what can be discussed when the public engages the agency. But this may not be a bad thing. Limits on engagement can help to structure the engagement and direct it in a useful direction. The output also tends to be more useful and comprehensible.

The trick is that the limits should be derived jointly by the agency and the members of the public being engaged, so that they are viewed as legitimate by both parties. Then, both parties must be involved in enforcing the limits. And finally, most importantly, there should be maximum freedom of expression within those limits, to ensure that the best ideas are surfaced.

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