How can you create a better environment for when public sector meets citizen in a municipal context? This is what Odense Municipality is trying to find out with its establishment of a new physical meeting place in the municipality: The Citizens’ House. The new House has the potential to accommodate everything from public services and culture to entrepreneurship and citizens’ meetings. The House could also be a place where various administrative departments can meet to collaborate and create new solutions that will benefit both citizens and municipal employees alike.
To the question of how to go about finding out which collaborations are feasible and which can make a positive contribution to people’s everyday lives, the answer is: by trial and error.
Therefore, Odense Municipality is about to project a test version, a so-called prototype of the projected Citizens’ House, in the middle of Odense’s pedestrianised shopping street. Here, representatives of the Municipality will have the opportunity to try things out before the real house becomes a reality. The prototype therefore serves to provide a space for experimentation and to try out ideas, projects and where it is possible to collaborate more freely and without obligation. This allows the finished house get off to the best possible start.
MindLab was asked to help the project’s stakeholders to visualize the projected Citizens’ House and the possible collaborations, it had the potential to accommodate. MindLab brought representatives from the project team and steering committee together at a meeting in a private apartment in Odense, with the aim of reminding the stakeholders of the target group for the House. At this meeting we discussed which offers had to be available at the House, including those things that the Municipality was not yet taking care of. Thanks to this, the relatively abstract vision for the Citizens’ House became very concrete. For example, how could the health sector become involved, so that it is not only is represented but is also part of an interesting pairing with other stakeholders?
We have engaged in dialogue with key staff at management and employee levels in those administrations that could potentially have a stake in the projected Citizens’ House, approx. 10 people altogether.
The workshop about the Citizens’ House has contributed to a better understanding between administrations about which potential collaborations and projects it would be possible to establish in the new House. The collaboration has also strengthened the project’s own work on user involvement.
The project team was given approval to proceed with what it had planned, with the steering committee also being on board with the same plan. (It had been given the opportunity to make suggestions and was equally involved in setting the standard for the new House.) The process of visualising possible collaborations and projects is now steaming along, and soon the prototype will begin to unfold. Principle decisions about the content of the Citizens’ House will be made in the summer of 2015.
Brainstorming is an idea tool used to create many ideas. The ideas are used in solving the identified problems. The aim of the method is to make the participants more open-minded in order to ensure that as many aspects as possible are illustrated.
Workshop facilitation is used when you need to involve a lot of people in the project. It may be that you need ideas, inputs, knowledge etc. of a particular group of people. By facilitating a workshop you ensure that you obtain the necessary knowledge.