Engaging to make a difference. A conversation with Ben Neil.

February 1, 2021 |

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with a wonderful community engagement practitioner, Ben Neil. He has so many stories from his wealth of experience. Here is some of what we spoke about. Max: Ben, give us a really brief description of your role at Capire and professional background? Ben: I have been at…

It’s time to do stakeholder mapping differently!

October 28, 2020 |

A recent blog by Richard Delaney put forward the merit of doing impact analysis as opposed to issues identification. Worth a read! I’d like to offer another suggestion for improving the way we plan community engagement processes; stakeholder mapping. The classic process used is the 2 x 2 matrix of plotting stakeholders according to their…


Common objections to committing to collaborative (co-design or deliberative) engagement processes

September 30, 2020 |

We know not all projects require, or are appropriate, for co-design (to find out when this is appropriate check this blog and short video). But let’s imagine your situation ticks all the boxes. You have a complex, even a potentially controversial project, and there is quite a lot of uncertainty about the best way forward.…

Public Deliberations

Facilitating Public Deliberations – Podcast Episode!

August 28, 2020 |

The important lessons that I have learned when it comes to facilitating public deliberations over the last several decades.

How safe is it to participate?

July 27, 2020 |

Something we don’t discuss much is the importance of the ‘do no harm’ principle when engaging the community (especially relevant now with the Covid-19 pandemic). Anthony Boxshall and I identified ‘people feeling unsafe’ as one of the key challenges to co-design. We rely on bringing together a diverse community of interest, but what do you…

Debunking myths about ‘deliberation’

July 14, 2020 |

There is much being said and written about deliberation. This is not surprising, especially in Victoria, Australia, where the new Local Government Act stipulates this is the way to now engage communities. So, I thought I’d make a contribution as a practitioner who has promoted, designed and facilitated deliberative processes for over 20 years. In…

What is your approach to consulting? And… which one best works for co-designing solutions with the community?

July 6, 2020 |

I’ve been consulting for 23 years, and I think I’ve settled on the consulting approach that works for me. When I say ‘approach’ what I mean is how we work with our clients. I’ve reduced it, somewhat simplistically, to three types of approaches. Read on to find out more about these approaches.

Getting the ball rolling on co-design

June 19, 2020 |

Getting started is often one of the hardest challenges for organisations willing to co-design solutions to complex problems with the community, especially where trust is low. Let’s consider some of the assumptions behind the reluctance of the community to become involved. For highly controversial projects, such as Murray-Darling Basin Plan, active members, or the hyper-engaged,…

authentic co-design

Turning around an inauthentic co-design process

May 27, 2020 |

Having a definition is one thing; doing it well, or authentically, is something else again. We outlined five key principles, that for us, help to explain the elements of an authentic process.

learning from covid-19

Learning from Covid-19. How what we are learning now can transform how we engage into the future!

April 30, 2020 |

Engaging communities at a time of physical distancing presents some real challenges for local government.
Let’s face it, community engagement is never perfect. It is never perfectly representative; the processes are not perfectly supported by organisations, nor is the output perfectly considered. It is always a matter of making trade-offs with our processes, limited by budget, time-frames, and the capacity of communities to be involved. But we have come a long way in the last 20 years. Here are some things that I’ve noticed are much better.