Ahead of our upcoming Discovery Session, in this article, John Drummond explores how we engage people in the things that matter. We’ll explore this topic further at our free session on Thursday 5 March, 8:30am – 10:30am, in central London. You can sign up to register your place now by clicking the Register Your Interest button (above, right) or using the sign up form at the bottom of this article. We hope to see you there!

We have a crisis of participation

We have a crisis of participation – a climate emergency, stressed health service, intolerance of others, bad actors feeding us bad information and a massive lack of trust in democracy.

Governments, businesses and charities need people to vote, save for the future, save energy, save water, buy sustainably, shop in the high street, reduce waste, look after their health, drive electric.

But there is no rigour in our response. We do stuff for people. We don’t give them platforms and tools to do stuff for themselves. When we do it’s superficial. You want a voice in politics – vote or march or moan. You want to save energy – here’s a “smart” meter that’s actually a bit thick. You want to air your views – press this “like” button.

Social media is anti-social

Our social media platforms are anti-social. In Catch 22 Joseph Heller describes a character who has “a prediliction for staring at one side of a question and never seeing the other side at all.” Social media is set up to reaffirm existing biases. And this enables bad actors, who are currently better at tapping into participation than good actors.

The Netflix documentary “The Big Hack” outlines the process. Cambridge Analytica’s method of influencing the 2016 US Presidential election used personality tests on Facebook to identify persuadable voters in swing states. There’s the 1, 2, 3 right there of some key participation principles – understand values, identify audiences, focus on location.

The three axes of participation

There are three axes in participation. There’s a values axis – and you can either reaffirm existing biases or challenge with alternative perspectives. There’s a purpose axis – and a participation programme can either be anti-social or pro-social. And there’s a human axis – participation can either be individual or social. The social element involves collaborative action. It is deeply engaging.

For example, there is a school in Jerusalem called Hand in Hand where students from Jewish and Arab backgrounds learn together. The alternative is anti-social and avoids human contact. As one student put it: “it’s like living in a house with people and you don’t know how to connect with them. It’s like not knowing the language of your sister.”

Participate! Join our free Discovery Session 

Participation can be deep and local. And it can lead to the active participation of millions. At Corporate Culture, we’ve been working on participation projects for clients for 20 years. We’ve also looked at international good practice. Join us on Thursday, 5 March 2020, 8:30am – 10:30am in central London, where we’ll share what we have learned – and put it in the context of your challenges – at our free Discovery Session.

To register your interest, please contact Elaine SmithOr sign up using the form below.

Register your interest

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