Have you ever wanted a new way to engage with stakeholders that is more engaging, fun and effective? PARTICIPOLOGY is a set of open-access web resources and associated guidance that sets out to achieve these aims. It uses a board game format where players encounter questions and challenges as a dice throw dictates. The board, questions and rules of the game can be designed from scratch or existing templates can be adapted to the specific goals you have in mind. The game was designed to be used in participatory forums about land use options, but the principles can be more widely applied to all kinds of participatory processes.
There are five key findings from developing and using these resources.
The language of ‘co-processes’ is much in vogue in policy, practice and academic communities worldwide. In commerce, product design and politics, the power of the crowd has long been recognised, but can co-processes be harnessed for the public good? The answer, right now, appears to be ‘maybe’.
What are co-processes and what are they for?
The briefest survey of the literature on co-processes confirms there is substantial variation in how they are defined and what methods or techniques they include. A confusing multiplicity of related terms exists—co-construction, co-production, co-design, co-innovation, co-creation—all are in regular use, sometimes interchangeably, and often defined at an unhelpful level of abstraction (for more on this topic see the blog post by Allison Metz on Co-creation, co-design, co-production, co-construction: same or different?). Nevertheless, however we define co-processes, participatory methods, boundary-spanning and inclusivity to varying degrees are foundational principles that can be detected in most accounts. Beyond that, the stated purposes and proposed outcomes vary considerably.
A key topic across disciplines is the authentic engagement and participation of key stakeholders in developing and guiding innovations to solve problems. Complex systems consist of dense webs of relationships where individual stakeholders self-organize through interactions. Research demonstrates that successful uptake of innovations requires genuine and meaningful interaction among researchers, service providers, policy makers, consumers, and other key stakeholders. Implementation efforts must address the various needs of these stakeholders. However, these efforts are described differently across disciplines and contexts – co-design, co-production, co-creation, and co-construction.
Developing consensus on terminology and meanings will facilitate future research and application of “co” concepts.