At the Feedback Summit 2016: From Talk to Action, we convened 80 different organizations that spanned from domestic service-providers and governments, to international aid agencies and practitioners, to US and UK funding organizations. The two days were filled with conversation around how to make the closing of feedback loops a feasible practice.
In the hours after Donald Trump’s election, the Facebook posts of my Democrat friends were all the same. They were devastated by his victory. They vowed to fight against his policies. And they were convinced that the country, in electing Donald Trump, had chosen hatred, racism and misogyny.
A lot had changed since my last support visit to _Utarpradesh– the project team had now fully embraced the feedback mechanism. They were thriving: listening and being responsive to community questions, suggestions and concerns. A stark contrast to my first visit, where I’d left feeling in a spin, overwhelmed by the diversionary tactics that thwarted my scheduled plans to help the team set up a feedback system.
Feasible. It’s a pragmatic word, practical and unassuming. Aspiring to feasibility is to reach for concrete ground ahead rather than for the stars. Aiming for feasibility is not an audacious goal. But 140 feedback champions who work in aid, governance and philanthropy rallied around feasibility at the 2016 Feedback Summit held last Thursday and Friday in Washington, DC.
When people ask about the vision of Insights.US – I can hardly describe it in one sentence. I could start with a sentence like: Inclusive decision making is about integrating stakeholder knowledge into the decision making of an organization. People get this – but the vision is deeper.
Lack of civic engagement is a source of fragility and the potential demise of any democracy. Many governments and organizations have tried to solve this problem by pumping more information and more data at citizens in the name of transparency and engagement. What the government expects in return is feedback and engagement from citizens. But what if that doesn’t work?
In our last op-ed, we argued that voting can put powerful bounds on politicians behavior. But under what circumstances does that happen? It seems to me it’s when there’s a multitude of conversations – not just between voters and politicians, but between and within experts, institutions and media as well.
The potential for new technologies to bolster feedback loops is game-changing. Over the past two decades, a growing body of research suggests links between ICTs and economic growth, social development, and higher levels of democratic participation.
Public consultation is an essential component of a well-functioning democracy. Governments at all levels (municipal, state, federal, etc.) should consult with residents and meaningful engagement can enhance citizen’s ability to affect public policy development and decision-making in their communities.
‘Elections do not produce responsive government,’ argues the cover of Democracy for Realists by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels. The authors argue that the notion that elections compel elected politicians to follow the will of the people – or at least respect the policy preferences of the majority of voters – is a legend.