Government leads at the request of its constituents, and that means when the people speak, governments listen. The challenge is to create a consistent flow of feedback from the right stakeholders that turns into a positive feedback loop for innovation strategy. Here’s how to build those positive loops and develop better innovation.
Find Ways To Listen
Government is often associated in the popular mind with bureaucracy and frustration. Perhaps to a certain extent, this can be true; after all, governments have to serve everyone, not just a limited pool of customers. Yet that doesn’t have to be the case with feedback. Work to develop consistent, organization-wide methods of asking for and collecting comments, concerns, and thoughts. These can be passive (such as monitoring informal city fan pages on social media) and active (such as passing out comment cards at town meetings or setting up a municipality-wide platform), but they should cast a broad net to gather as much data as possible.
Build Tools To Interpret
Raw data is nice to have, but you also need tools and methods to interpret it. This can be as simple as pairing comments to their location on a map. If your city keeps getting calls about rats from the same neighborhood, for example, that would be a clear indication of where animal control and sanitation need to go. However, you should also seek out deeper levels, filtering for terms, looking at who shares what, and other relevant trends.
Check Your Facts
Any government employee working with the public inevitably runs into the gap between perception and reality. Depending on the service and the constituent, people will assume incompetence where there’s simply a heavy workload, for example. So while you should value feedback, you should compare it against the internal data that you have. If a pothole isn’t being filled after months of complaints, is that because road crews aren’t getting the information? Or is it because they’re working overtime to fill an inordinate number of potholes?
Get The Word Out
Having consistent channels to deliver information will be key. Many constituencies simply want to know that their government is listening to them, so providing updates through multiple channels communicates that knowledge. Make sure that there’s an even spread of media to be used, such as radio, online channels, flyers, and other appropriate outreach. Include email addresses, social media feeds, and phone numbers to continue collecting feedback and responses.
None of this feedback, however, will be useful unless you act on it. Develop plans of action that balance the needs of all citizens and stakeholders. In some cases, you may need to offer multiple plans and have key stakeholders to discuss what plans will work best. Ensure the platforms for these discussions are freely available and accessible to everyone and, where appropriate, actively solicit feedback in person.
No feedback loop is perfect, and you’ll find yourself refining these loops as time goes on. However, with an open mind, the right tools, and a collaborative approach, you can build feedback loops that drive your innovation strategy to where it’s needed most. To learn more, join our newsletter!