Dr Don Lenihan explores the breadth of issues and some of the common misconceptions around engagement and co-design, including “who” needs to be engaged and “how”.

In this wide-ranging episode, Don challenges many assumptions such as the use of online/social tools; “public” vs “citizen” engagement; and the role of citizens as well as policy-makers in the co-design process.  Don also overviews the “Co-design Community Engagement Prototype” developed this year with Australian Federal and Local Government organisations.

I think there’s a growing awareness, especially among public servants, that the processes we have are not adequate – we need public engagement as a way of dealing with complexity, but it’s still perceived to be a risky business.

About Dr Don Lenihan

Don Lenihan is Vice President, Engagement at the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa, Canada. He is an internationally recognized expert on democracy and public engagement, accountability and service delivery. From 2009 – January 2012, he led the Public Engagement Project (PEP), a research and capacity-building project involving some 500 public servants from nine federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments, and the Government of Australia.

rescue policyDon is also the author of “Rescuing Policy: The Case for Public Engagement, a new book published by Public Policy Forum, which is the result of the Public Engagement Project, a two-year dialogue and capacity-building project on public engagement that involved nine federal, provincial and municipal governments in Canada, the Government of Australia and some 500 public servants. Its premise is that as public policy issues are becoming increasingly complex, the process by which governments make decisions about them has not kept pace.

Don has over 25 years of experience in the field as a project leader, writer, speaker, senior government advisor, trainer and facilitator. Throughout his career, he has developed and led many research and consultation projects involving senior public servants, academics, elected officials, journalists and members of the private and third sectors. He is the author of numerous articles, studies and books, a former columnist with the Hill Times newspaper in Ottawa, and is a regular columnist for iPolitics. He earned his PhD in political theory from the University of Ottawa.

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