The underpinning philosophy of citizen engagement is that people are entitled to decision-making power regarding decisions that impact their lives beyond simply voting for a representative once every few years. A related concept, public participation, “describes the activities by which people’s concerns, needs, interests, and values are incorporated into decisions and actions on public matters and issues”.

Citizen engagement can take many forms such as direct outreach to citizens and information campaigns, public meetings and consultation, deliberative processes such as citizens’ assemblies and citizens’ juries, and using SenseMaker®. The degree of citizen engagement can be measured on Arnstein’s ladder of engagement which ranges from manipulation at the bottom to citizen control at the top. Lower rungs of engagement are about one way communication; decision-makers telling citizens their plans. The higher rungs of the metaphorical ladder refer to when citizens have real decision-making power, they are in dialogue with decision makers, and information, stories and ideas flow between them.

In this brochure, we outline our ecosystem of methods that enables the collection of narrative, collective sensemaking, and insight to action design, at scale. An approach that can create deeper, more inclusive, and more far-reaching engagement to advance our democracies. We use real-time feedback to create more strategic and evidence-informed decision-making, and we empower citizens and communities to co-create on a local scale so they can rewrite the global story.

The Citizen Engagement & Democratic Innovation programme provides tools for collective sense-making in the areas of community development and youth work, civic engagement and democratic innovation, collaborative service/policy design and evaluation, housing/tenant engagement, futures and planning, shared learning and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.


Read also the following blog posts:

Terms of Use

Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd. (t/a The Cynefin Company) are making this material available as part of celebrating and narrating the development and influence of the Cynefin® framework and SenseMaker  in various contexts.

This content is owned by Cognitive Edge, its licensors or other providers of such material, and is protected by United States and international copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, and other intellectual property or property rights laws. No right, title, or interest in, or to, the video, or any content in the video, is transferred to you. All rights not expressly granted are reserved by Cognitive Edge. Please note that you must not reproduce, distribute, modify, create derivative works of, publicly display, publicly perform, re-publish, download, store, or transmit this media.

About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram