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Consultation

Many public authorities run consultation activities to find out what citizens think about existing or future services. There are many different consultation methodologies, and some are more robust, inclusive and effective than others.

While co-production goes beyond consultation, respecting the views and wishes of citizens is a precondition for co-production. However, consultation can be a very limited approach to co-production – for example, where professionals ask questions to citizens which are of interest only to them but not necessarily relevant to the citizens concerned. Some approaches to consultation allow a much fuller co-production approach – e.g. the Co-Design Methodology “Customer Journey” allows citizens to ask questions and raise issues which are relevant to them, so that a map can be built up of the whole process of the citizen’s encounter with the public service, showing where both citizens and the service provider believe that value can be added, from their different perspectives.

Interestingly, co-production does not just mean ‘talking’ to each other but DOING things together. Clearly, effective co-production requires information on who is prepared to do what. Again, this is where a survey or focus group (Barry, 2009 and 2010) can play a useful role. Furthermore, it is necessary to evaluate from time to time the quality of consultation, as perceived by various stakeholders.

Co-production and consultation can operate alongside each other – for example people need be consulted about how much they want to co-produce. Moreover, it is important that we ask citizens not just the classical question in the welfare state “What do you need?” but the new question “What can you do to improve your own quality of life and that of others”?  Increasingly public agencies are realising that, when carrying out ‘needs analysis’ with current or potential service users, they should be asking what people are able to do and prepared to do for the public service, not just what the public service can do for the potential user.


 

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Publications


Creasy, Barry (2009), Effective Focus Groups. A Consultation Institute Best Practice Guide.

Creasy, Barry (2010), Effective Surveys and Questionnaires. A Consultation Institute Best Practice Guide.

Jones, Rhion & Gammell, Elizabeth (2009), The Art of Consultation. For further information and the order form please click here.

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