Catherine at LGComms Academy – Beyond communications: engagement through to democracy


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Catherine's session at LGComms Academy 2014 was entitled: Beyond communications engagement through to democracy, where she tackled some really interesting, challenging territory for public-sector communicators.

In particular, Catherine pointed out why a networked, digital society demands not better communications but better democracy – and argued why this is an essential battleground for public-sector communicators in the future.

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Catherine at LGComms Academy – Beyond communications: engagement through to democracy

  1. 1. Beyond communications: Engagement through to democracy LG Comms Annual Conference June 2014 Catherine Howe, Chief Executive Public-i
  2. 2. My area of interest is in using the social web to do democratic things – my research explores digital civic space. I also run Public-i where we build some of these ideas – and webcast A LOT of council meetings. Increasingly I am interested in digital leadership and the skills we need to work effectively in the network society I am also part of the team trying to build NHS Citizen @curiousc Who am I to be telling you this? Some background
  3. 3. Austerity Everything is changing + We need to change everything Everything is changing + We need to change everything Social Change Aging population Democratic deficit Political parties are shrinking Climate change Technological innovation 3AM worries!
  4. 4. Welcome to the Network Society
  5. 5. Networks as the dominant social structure
  6. 6. Networked
  7. 7. Participatory Culture and a Network Society Collaborating ParticipatingSharing Creating Connecting
  8. 8. This is the world of Generation Y: The millennial generation The networked individual
  9. 9.  Open by default: this is open not just in terms of information but also in terms of thinking and decision making  Digitally native: not in terms of age but in terms of the individual adopting the behaviours and social norms of the digital culture  Co-productive: an expectation that everyone in the conversation has power to act and the potential to be active in the outcome as well as the decision-making process  And as the name says, networked: able to be effective via networked as well as hierarchical power as a leader, to blur boundaries and to work across groups The qualities of Democracy in a Network Society
  10. 10. Why democracy? Disintermediation: People want action
  11. 11.  No-one is in charge  Decisions are negotiated  Objectives are contested  They are highly networked and agile  Is this intelligence or community policing? Occupy
  12. 12. Youth Petitions
  13. 13. We have become brands made up of many voices
  14. 14. We limit ourselves by simply considering changes to the way we communicate
  15. 15. Do we have shared values?
  16. 16. Do we even have shared language?
  17. 17. What do we mean by Digital?
  18. 18. Disintermediation
  19. 19. Can we really maintain 4 relationships with the citizen? Communications Engagement Consultation Politcians
  20. 20. The range of networked behaviours Communicative Tell people what you have done We have developed a model of networked councillor behaviours Collaborative Discuss with people what you are doing Co-productive Agree with people what you could do together
  21. 21. How do we shift this dynamic?
  22. 22. How do we explore the art of the possible? Service Redesign Change the system not the process How do we create a networked organisation? Look outside Many professions are addressing this issue themselves Talk to the members This is a democratic issue
  23. 23. Our working assumption, explored in this work, is that: a more networked society will need a more Networked Councillor - able to represent and respond to people acclimatized to a collaborative and networked way of decision-making and taking action. WHAT!!! Talk to members!!!!
  24. 24. Citizens do not need us to organise them
  25. 25. What could digital civic space look like?
  26. 26. Networks….of networks
  27. 27. Society not Technology
  28. 28. Digital Civic Space Open Co- productive Place defined by Citizens Representative Public
  29. 29. Change our democratic model Participatory High levels of participation at the hyperlocal level What would networked democracy look like? Deliberative More deliberative approaches for shared problems Direct representation Direct representation for wicked issues
  30. 30. Different skills are needed An understanding of networked power Collaboration skills Co-design skills Social media ‘social’ skills An adequate understanding of the basic lexicon of digital Horizon scanning and research Data skills Digital commissioning Agile project management Cultural Practical
  31. 31. As we figure out this stuff within communications as a profession:  How do we create a robust evidence base that means we don’t have to keep having the same discussions again and again?  Should everyone be responsible for reputation management?  What does a multi voice brand look like?  How do we ensure that all staff share the organisational values and understand that our brand is our message  How do we create skills for digital leaders? How do we keep learning? There is not magic bullet
  32. 32. Will we just communicate with the public or collaborate with them?
  33. 33. Catherine Howe Thank you for your time