Drew Mackie and I ran two sessions of the Engagement Game yesterday at the Together We Can conference organised by the Home Office - and generally felt that it went pretty well with about 15 people in one workshop and 20 in the other.
The format was similar to the first session we ran with Civil Servants back in February. We first invented a scenario - a goal for the engagement process. In one case it was illegal use of motorbikes on open space and in another "youth nuisance". The task was then to plan a process by which a whole range of different interests - from government departments through to local groups - might be involved in tackling the issue.
As before, we split into four team, each dealing with different phases of the engagement process - inception, preparation, involvement and delivery/evaluation. However we improved the run of play by tailoring instructions for each group, and controlling the rate at which we handed out cards so people were not too overwhelmed by bits of paper.
One of the first tasks for groups was to decide on purpose cards, which indicated how much or how little involvement people were going to be offered in their phase of the process ... information, consultation, involvement in decision making, collaboration, empower,
They then went on to work out which groups should be involved and finally what methods to use, governed by a budget set by the preparation group.I've uploaded the game instructions and cards, with links below. I should emphasise, however, that the game is still very much under construction. Drew and I will be tidying things up into a more comprehensive package, and looking for more opportunities to pilot. If you are interested, do contact us. We can spend some time on this, because game development is supported by the Innovation Fund of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.
At one of the sessions I was delighted to meet Dean T. Huggins, a trainer and consultant specialising in community engagement, who is a co-author of the excellent course being run by the Home Office. You can download the materials here. One of our ideas with the game has always been that it can be a '"front end" to other material, with links from the cards to other resources, so I was really pleased Dean thought that could work well.
I also persuaded Drew to give his view on camera on how things went, and what changes are needed. We only had about an hour today to run the session, and we would really like to thank those who participated for compressing some rather complex tasks into a tight timetable. But then that's usually the case with real engagement processes too.... Thanks also to Justin Merry of the Home Office who helped us with facilitation, and to Charles Woodd and the rest of the team there for inviting us along to the conference. Click the photos for video - which needs Quicktime (download free). Comments below welcome from anyone who participated - and indeed anyone else.