Participatory engagement is at the heart of the Urbal methodology. A participatory process requires ongoing engagement with a range of actors and explores shared understandings and relationships.
Participatory approaches can be supported by experts— people with extensive experience and/or practitioner knowledge. Experts may be community knowledge holders, practitioners, academics, or others who can provide useful guiding insights. This means that all knowledge and experiences are equally valuable and valid.
The Urbal approach urges you to be as inclusive as you can so that you make space for all participants. The more voices that get included, the more relevant your findings will be. It is important to engage with all groups involved in your innovation process. You need to create a welcoming and open space for engagement where participants can provide their insights and be heard.
Power relationships are a crucial consideration when selecting participants for the workshop. It is important to avoid power imbalances where one or a few voices dominate the conversation at the expense of others. And remember, participation does not always equate to inclusion. It is critical that participants can provide feedback and input throughout the process so that Urbal can help build capacity.
In practice, this may require more than one workshop and/or breakout session during the workshop to provide opportunities for all participants to express their perspectives and ideas. For example, it may be difficult for new members to speak honestly if innovation leaders are in their group. Organizing breakout groups can allow more open conversations and mixed methods approach can help.
For example, it is possible to conduct interviews with more/less vocal people followed by a workshop that might be more stakeholder focused. Interviews can supplement the workshop results for those who might either dominate a workshop or be too intimidated to participate.
Clear, plain language that avoids jargon can also help participants feel engaged. As all knowledge and experiences should be treated as equally valuable and valid, lived experience, scientific knowledge and policy-maker contributions need to be given the same consideration. Urbal helps you to be inclusive by providing the tools you need to engage in participatory processes effectively.