Panel Beating

What are the benefits and challenges of commissioning good public engagement in the placemaking? Mend and our friends at make:good facilitated a panel beat on 30 October 2013 hosted by London Legacy Development Corporation. We brought together a diverse mix of practitioners and commissioners to tackle the issues involved in commissioning and delivering good engagement, and collaboratively rethink the process towards generate more positive outcomes.

What is a panel beat?

We use a panel beat to take an issue or a problem as a group and beat it out of its current shape, with a view to knocking it into something we all think works better. As a panel, we represent a mix of stakeholders from various different angles, ensuring we are looking at this as authentically and realistically as possible.

The problem as we see it…

As a tool, public engagement has the power to shape and inform the way places are developed and designed, and the extent to which they meet users’ expectations, needs and desires. However the process often results in tick-box exercises that seek confirmation of ready-made answers or present a closed set of “choices”. Engagement is a complex process of understanding how people, groups, communities and society interact with and live in places, spaces, neighbourhoods and whole cities. Yet it is only as good as the questions it asks, who is asking them to whom and the nature of possible responses.

The challenge!

The sessions will explore the way engagement is commissioned to understand:

– what do clients really want when they commission engagement?

– who writes the brief and what is it asking for?

– should the brief be part of the engagement process itself? offering opportunities for stakeholders to shape the process

– what would be a better process of commissioning engagement on design?

– what new skills, behaviours and approaches are needed?

You can read a summary of the event here Summary of Panel Beat on Commissioning Engagement October 2013 which includes feedback from the break out groups and some suggested solutions for commissioning good engagement.

As a result of the feedback and enthusiasm generated on this topic, Mend and make:good are develping a platform for exploring the themes of demonstrating the value of good engagement and developing practical pathways for commissioners to commission good engagement.

Sound interesting? Get in touch if you would like to be involved, have some ideas or insights or would like to help in any other way.

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