Readiness: how to improve the readiness of our municipality to use e-participation tools?
The approval and constant support of management are vital.
• One central argument for participation is the need to identify the opinions of people outside the organization, to gain new perspectives and new knowledge. Problems are usually complex and one decision-maker cannot know everything.
• It is also important not to simply include the formal and obligatory participants. Frequently, inviting people who are usually left uninvited can help to think “outside the box”. For instance, when deciding city planning, the teachers and students of art schools could be included more than they have been in the past.
• Another strong argument for participation is that by including people who will be affected by this particular decision you can avoid or at least mitigate the negative feedback. Furthermore, participation not only reduces the risk of criticism but also the risk of mistakes and wrong decisions.
• A so-called competency centre within the organization is necessary. This could be the department of public relations or, in a small local government, a single person (public relations manager, development adviser etc.) Conducting an (e-)participation process undoubtedly requires willingness on behalf of the organisation to change its work and decision-making processes in order to become faster, more flexible and open.