Over the past 10 months, Canada Beyond 150 participants have worked on 2 goals:
- Experimenting with new ways to develop policy;
- Learning to co-create and engage with a diverse spectrum of partners during early stages of policy development.
This will bring a positive cultural shift in the public service, and forward-looking insights into some of the most pressing issues facing the Canadian public policy environment.
Participants agree they need to engage to better do their work and come up with interventions for complex problems. What does all this mean? What did we learn from working with key players outside of Government? Here are three main takeaways:
- Engagement takes time – it’s not only time-consuming, but has to start early. In government, we tend to engage with stakeholders after we’ve explored ideas; but early engagement with subject matter experts can lead to better, more informed policies and programs.
- There’s a paradox: on one hand, we need to engage early to better understand the issues that guide further research. On the other hand, stakeholders have limited time and expect you to be prepared and informed before meeting. How do we bridge these?
- We need to see open government as something we do, an invitation to contribute. In her blog post, Laura Wesley refers to opening government as a verb and as a means of creating opportunities for people to help shape their country.
We all agreed: Policy issues are complex, and we need to fully understand them in order to address them through policy; stakeholder engagement and conversations are the key to doing that.