Academic-Practitioner workshop ‘Integrating Public Input into Political Leadership and Government’ with IAP2 Auckland Branch, The University of Auckland, 7 February 2013

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Reports for the event:

PI and leadership research in progress report

Post Workshop Report

I organised this event to obtain feedback during my research for a book Integrating public input into political leadership. There were 67 participants in attendance. Participants included consultation staff working at central and local government, market researchers, local council politicians, and central government politicians[1], academics working in deliberation and political leadership and other practitioners with experience working on consultation from different perspectives such as mediation or specific policy areas. Before the workshop participants were sent an initial research report on my work to progress with initial hypotheses from academic literature and interviews with practitioners.

On arrival, participants were separated onto different tables to ensure that there was a mix of different practitioners, academics and politicians on tables to ensure diverse discussion occurred. The tables themselves contained information for attendees, such as photos, questions, quotes and a brief report on what would be asked during the sessions. Two topics were discussed by participants throughout the workshop: the politician’s perspective on public input, and making public input usable for political leadership and government.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe first session was run in cafe style at tables and group discussion leaders encouraged discussion and note takers wrote down the main points made by participants. In the second session participants were asked to walk around the tables and write down their own comments on post-its and large paper as to how they thought public input should be organised. Both verbal and written comments are summarised in this post workshop report.[2]

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAParticipants successfully contributed to both sections, and as the report illustrates there was a large amount of information discussed. There were calls for important innovations such as transparency in the PI process; feedback to participations post government decisions; suggestions for PI to be used on an ongoing basis and to build long-term relationships with communities – a very different perspective from the common focus on one-off events or research on a particular issue; and involving decision makers in the interpretation of results. Discussion also showed how difficult it is to move from understanding what is wrong with the current system to working out how to make it more effective; and how to envisage the role of politicians in PI and how PI fits with their representative role. It also reflected the literature in terms of there being a lack of consensus as to who should be asked.GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The administration of the workshop was supported by a university summer scholarship who sent out invites and handled replies, organised catering and material for the event; and working with Carol Hayward IAP2 Auckalnd branch chair who shared experience and advice on running this kind of session; and IAP2 who handled advertising and registration of about 13 participants.

Post-workshop comments:

  • ‘Thanks for this and a really interesting session. Well done on sending some      follow up feedback to us all. You’d be surprised how few organisations do      this final step, despite how important it is and what a positive impact it has. I’ve circulated the summary to the rest of my team who have found it      equally interesting’ (Melinda Gibon, Buzz Channel, market research      company)
  • ‘Great      workshop and fantastic post-workshop report as well.’ (Carol McKenzie-Rex|      Relationship Manager Māngere-Ōtāhuhu & Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Boards      Auckland Council)
  • ‘Jennifer      Thanks for allowing us to participate in this session, it was very timely      for us as we are looking at how we can involve our Councillors with the      Public more and to offer opportunities for community input into Council      matters…I am about to work with a group here to consider the where,      what, how and who for us.   I      would therefore really appreciate having the template and your planning      documents for that session if you are comfortable with that.  If it      assisted with your work we could keep you updated on our progress as well?      (Kerry Gosling | Community Engagement Team Leader | Kotahitanga      Strategic Engagement team | Bay of Plenty Regional Council | Whakatane,      New Zealand)
  • ‘Thanks for involving me in the process which I greatly enjoyed and      learned a great deal from. This was a good example of university-public      involvement which I believe we need to get better at too, so well done.’      (Professor Brad Jackson, NZ Leadership Institute, Auckland University      Business School)
  • [re the post      workshop report]  ‘I found it a      good and thought provoking read.  You will be pleased to know that a      number of my colleagues had copies in the House last week and were reading      it.’  (Simon O’Connor, MP)

1] All ministers and Auckland-based MPs from central government ministers were invited, however only two were in attendance.

[2] All comments were noted anonymously.

More photos from the event:

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