First look: New immersive deliberation training experience

Earlier this year, MosaicLab trialled an exciting new training concept based on participatory learning. Hosted by Public Libraries Victoria Network and State Library of Victoria and facilitated by MosaicLab, the experience gave participants an in-depth understanding of, insights into and skills in deliberative engagement.

Following foundational engagement training sessions, and some online learning and discussion, PLVN representatives from across the State came together to experience a mini (but very real), 2-day deliberative process.

The group worked together to discuss and respond to the question - "what are the ten best ideas for engaging the community to design transformational library services".

Participants produced actionable recommendations for the future ( which they handed over to key, internal decision makers), while also gaining invaluable deliberative engagement skills, insights and perspectives along the way. 


We interviewed some of the training participants and asked them to describe their journey - including what surprised, challenged and changed them along the way. 


Kate Henderson, co-designed and co-facilitated the process alongside co-founders Kimbra White and Keith Greaves.  Kate, who is currently designing a range of new training experiences, provided some thoughts on the journey undertaken with PLVN and the State Library. 

What were the highlights of the training process?

KATE: "There were three highlights that stood out for me:

  1. The participants excelled at working in small groups to refine and improve their ideas. Ideas were 'cross-fertilised' and tested, meaning the ultimate output was a quality, clear, well-worded set of recommendations.
  2. The integration of a digital platform - participants digested data before they came into the room.  This included a webinar to familiarise themselves with the facilitators, the process and each other.  This all helped to ensure they hit the ground running on day one of the face-to-face work. 
  3. Watching participants gain a true sense of what it really feels like to be part of a deliberative process – now they can support their own community and participants when they run a deliberative process themselves."

What were the challenges?

KATE: "The challenge for the organisation is having an internal 'champion' or 'champions' ready to do quite a bit of logistical support work.

For example, providing data and timely responses to participant requests  requires some time investment.  But this is also part of the learning process - an external deliberative process would be just as (if not more) demanding."

What can future participating organisations do to get the most out of this experience?

KATE: "There was a few keys to the success of this process.  Tips for other organisations looking to engage in this training opportunity include: 

  • Build on an organisational vision for quality, meaningful engagement.  For this particular group, there was a push to improve community engagement across the sector, and to involve library services across Victoria. 
  • Consider the task ('remit') you want to set your group (MosaicLab can help you with this).  In this case the task lent itself well to a deliberative experience. 
  • Be prepared to invest staff time and resources - the group met for 2 full days face-to-face, as well as deliberating online and attending a webinar.  They need to be prepared to put in a concentrated effort in order to get the most out of the opportunity. 
  • Include a range of voices and perspectives in your mini-deliberation.  In this case, participants represented 46 different library services around the State including urban to regional and rural services."


We are now offering this experience to other organisations looking to give their staff the skills and insights they need to guide an organisation through a future deliberative process.

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