News & Views

TCI Engagement Blog

Education – a leading light in driving social and economic change, or a job for us all? (Part 2/2)

So how do we help drive social and economic change in an environment plagued by rules bureaucracy and policy making which does things to and not with people?  That was one of my reflections when I attended the SERC’s conference on Driving Social and Economic Change. Following on from my first blog, more answers came from the second key speaker, Dorte Nielsen, founder of Creative Thinker and the Center for Creative Thinking in Copenhagen.  I think I’ve been living in a bubble. Dorte drew me in and I think I’m hooked.  Firstly, “Creativity isn’t just for creatives”. That means I can.  I will.  There are no boundaries and it can be learnt. The problem is, creative thinking isn’t currently being taught.  There is huge untapped potential out there because most of us don’t know we can think innovatively, which obviously means we don’t know how.  But innovative thinking is essential, which Dorte illustrated beautifully with the Chinese Proverb:

“When the winds of change blow some build walls others build windmills”

Dorte highlighted a number of big, no, enormous brands from the recent past such as Kodak and Blockbuster.  They kept going in the same direction, but change happens so fast, is the life span of a big brand now only 5 years?  To me, this highlights the need for diverse competent teams that not only have the ability to horizon scan but to innovate and imagine endless possibilities.   Read more

Education – a leading light in driving social and economic change, or a job for us all? (Part 1 of 2)

Last Thursday I attended SERC’s conference on Driving Social and Economic Change at La Mon Hotel & Country Club and what a conference it was……. I nearly didn’t go, but the draw of Sir Harry Burns was too much and he did not fail to meet, NO! exceed expectations.  The connections he has made in his medical career and work in the realm of public policy between health, deprivation and mental health; the root causes and the failures of current policy initiatives is fascinating.  But why does it feel no one is listening?  The evidence is all there.  So why do policy makers and decision makers keep doing what they’ve always done despite the glaring obvious evidence that inspiring, committed and passionate professionals such as Sir Harry present to them?  The evidence is not only sound but compelling.

The main take aways (for me) of Sir Harry’s key note speech:

  • Inequality of death is not an issue of age 
  • Salutogenesis; an assets approach causes well-being (going to look into this one more, or ask my good friend Jenny about it ) 
  • There is molecular biology in a hug (yes, I’ve always known they feel good; but there is science and it goes deep)
  • Adverse childhood events lead to increased risk of alcoholism, obesity, criminal behaviour and deprivation
  • Thinking Yes (an initiative implemented by Martin Armstrong of the Wheatly Group) can and does help people
  • Involving people in decisions which affect them; mentoring and increasing their self-esteem has the power and ability to change lives and break the “cycle of alienation”

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Not another Public Consultation?!

I’ve just had a look at the Northern Ireland Executive’s public consultation website, and see that there were 306 consultations in 2017 (a fivefold increase since 2013) and by our count, as of today (27 February) there are already 32 active consultations – and that’s not even including a long list of additional “open consultations” in the remaining pages, to which contributions are still being sought. At first glance, this might be interpreted as a positive thing – our public sector is asking the NI public for input, and that (hopefully) means they’re using engagement to inform important decisions.

Well… yes and no.

Yes, it’s great that our government officials seem motivated to ask for input on all kinds of topics – from Scoping a new forestry plan for Sperrin forests and Woodland, to Promoting Organ Donation in Northern Ireland, to name but two. However, the trend of “consultation fatigue” is real, and this sheer volume of public consultations makes my head spin. Where is the “engaged” public to start?

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Improving public influence on planning issues and developments

On Friday 9th February, following our breakfast briefing with Carson Mc Dowell LLP, we attended an expert seminar and roundtable discussion hosted by the Consultation Institute and NICVA on ‘Improving public influence on planning issues and developments’.

The event provided an opportunity for representatives of voluntary and community sector organisations to learn from leading experts in the field of community consultation and public engagement in planning.

TCI Engagements Quintin Oliver, and Geoff Nuttall, NICVA, welcomed and introduced everyone. Penny Norton (author of ‘ Public Consultation and Community Involvement – a 21st.Century Guide) highlighted the key challenges and components of achieving successful and effective consultation and community involvement in the planning process, based on the findings of over 100 case studies.

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What we learnt from our first breakfast briefing – “Better Engagement in Planning”

On 9th February, we hosted our first breakfast seminar in collaboration with Carson Mc Dowell LLP , the Consultation Institute and Stratagem NI at Ten Square, Belfast. We listened to three insightful presentations on the changing world of consultation in planning and their predictions for 2018 and beyond.

The speakers were:

Our own co-founder, Quintin Oliver, facilitated the proceedings (@TCIEngagement).

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