Why the Ideas tool is more than a brainstorming ally

We’re always working hard to continuously improve EngagementHQ. Follow this page to keep up with our latest product updates and feature releases.

EngagementHQ’s Ideas tool provides a conversational approach to building rapport around your consultation at scale. The Ideas tool is designed to augment face to face workshops or be leveraged as part of a digital-first community engagement strategy. If fostering productive dialogue and collaboration with more members of the community is of interest, take a moment to discover why the Ideas tool is more than just a brainstorming ally.

Great ideas can come from anyone at any time

The Ideas tool falls in the open end of the EngagementHQ tools spectrum, and for good reason. What’s more natural and open than sharing and discussing ideas? Online brainstorming and problem-solving have become a staple in the everyday lives of citizens outside the context of civic engagement. Given how 2020 has shaped up, there is no better time to evaluate and incorporate the strengths of a non-live and digital-first approach to achieve real community engagement.

Inviting creative input to kick off a consultation fosters a give-and-take rapport that can create trust and buy-in for your engagement process. It demonstrates that you are listening and seek to collaborate. It also serves to open the door for more in-depth engagement with a broader audience during later phases of the inquiry. Unlike face-to-face workshops, participants may share and build on each other’s ideas from the comfort of their own homes at the time of day that works for them.

How the Ideas tool provides value to the engagement process

The intention behind the Ideas tool is to create a welcoming online space to share, discuss, and vote on community-generated ideas. Over the years, clients have demonstrated the tool’s capacity to add value beyond brainstorming. Before diving into four unique ways Ideas can be used to add value, let’s break down what makes the tool such a versatile asset to the engagement process.

Supporting imagery

To better articulate one’s thoughts, participants may support their case using images and links to supporting examples or videos. In contrast to written notes during workshops, online contributions are immediately legible and visible to the broader community and may be translated into other languages and sorted. Providing specific examples save participants time both when communicating their own ideas and when interpreting the ideas of others.

Example courtesy of Your Say Penrith.

Moderation by design

For people to feel valued and welcome in sharing their ideas, it’s essential to foster and maintain a productive dialogue. Threaded commenting allows for an idea to be built upon or challenged respectfully, without distracting from the ideas of others. Expert moderation comes standard with EngagementHQ, protecting you and your community against bullying, heckling, and inappropriate behavior every hour of the day. 

Moderation and Threaded commenting

Example courtesy of Your Say Penrith.

Versatility and scheduling

Permission toggles and scheduling options provide the opportunity to tailor the tool for various goals, phases, and timelines. Participation may be restricted to registered participants or opened up to the broader community with a screen name and email.

We’ve also made it easy to stick to the timeline displayed on your key dates widget while managing multiple engagement projects. Scheduling may be used to adjust the window of time a tool is open for interaction and the window of time that votes may be cast.

To facilitate the interactions you wish to see across the lifecycle of the tool, comments and image upload may be enabled or disabled as desired. 

Permission toggles and Scheduled voting

Advanced reporting

Text Analysis Reporting uncovers hidden insights and helps to manage large amounts of contributions and comments. Text analysis allows you to group similar ideas using advanced search and bulk tagging. You may also visualize contributions by participant demographics through Demographic Filtering. To obtain added context around how each idea was received based on other’s comments, applying Sentiment Analysis will automatically assign a positive, neutral, mixed, or negative sentiment tag onto each comment for an extra layer of insight.

Four great use cases for the Ideas tool

1: Long term engagement and site growth

There are inevitably times when you won’t have a fresh engagement project to release. The Ideas tool can be used to maintain your community’s habit of visiting your site to remain informed and involved. This can be as fun and simple as releasing a photo contest or art showcase. Pairing the Ideas tool with an evergreen topic is yet another easy and productive way to drive engagement while uncovering community concerns and aspirations. 

Promoting the Ideas tool can build awareness of your engagement site and can foster the growth of your participant database. Metro Vancouver’s Public Transportation system, Translink, wrote an inviting prompt that received over 3,000 ideas between in-person and online engagement. “In an ideal world, what changes – big and small – would make Metro Vancouver’s transportation system work better for everyone?”

Long term engagement with Engage Translink

Example courtesy of Engage Translink.

2: Collaborative brainstorming

The Ideas tool is suitable for serious problems facing the community and lighthearted engagement projects, such as the naming of two new Swans for a community park. Enable your community to dream and participate in setting the vision for a project.

Suggested names of Smith Falls two newest Swans

Example courtesy of Speak Up Smith Falls.

3: Transparent decision-making. 

The Ideas tool may be used in the convergent phase of ideation to pair down the number of options, or even select a winner. This can be achieved by scheduling voting to take place after an idea submission phase, helping to identify the most popular ideas and suggestions.

Voting on Ideas

This example from Centre Hope’s Flock Project demonstrates the versatility of the Ideas tool. Notice how each of the top ideas were from the same account, no comments were made, yet many votes were cast. Through community voting, the Girls Leading Others Widely (GLOW) program was selected as the winner. 

4: Hybrid Engagement 

Blending the strengths of digital and face to face brainstorming using the Ideas tool during workshops can reduce administrative workload, improve submission clarity, provide instant transparency for the broader community, and be used to continue the conversation or further vote on ideas.

Video excerpt from “Using ideation in online engagement”

How would you use the Ideas tool?

Imagine what real collaboration could bring about for the future of your community. The only rule for using the Ideas tool is that there are no rules. Develop your own strategies and apply the tool in combination with any of EngagementHQ’s online engagement tools across various phases of consultation. Use it for community visioning, participatory decision making, or to bring the community together around storytelling or a contest.

Our clients have demonstrated countless creative use cases for the Ideas tool that increase transparency and create buy-in. EngagementHQ’s backend interface makes it simple to create and schedule the Ideas tool to compliment your next project and timeline. What’s holding you back? Demonstrate to your community that you wish to collaborate and listen while gaining insight into the interests, dreams, and concerns of the community.

More Content You Might Like