Genuine conversations occur when people are truly interested in what you have to say. Some cities are genuinely interested in the ideas their employees and citizens have and they put forth an effort to communicate that interest. A recent Next American Cityarticle highlighted how some city’s have tapped into ideas from employees and citizens.

Philadelphia – Sent out numerous emails to 20,000-plus city workers seeking their ideas for addressing city issues. In response, the city received over 80 viable ideas.

Milwaukee – The Mayor’s Office teamed up with local organizations Art Milwaukee and NEWaukee to create a campaign seeking citizen submissions that included a website, social media program and collaboration with a local radio DJ. Over a 10 day period, 150 submissions were received.

Lexington, Ky. – Mayor Jim Grey, put together a series of telephone, social media and in-person town halls to give everyone a chance to participate. The telephone town hall, turned into a 7,000-person conference call that resulted in 440 ideas from Lexington citizens.

Obtaining ideas is but one step in the process of engaging citizens. Evaluating ideas and determining which ones to proceed forward with is critical.

In Philadelphia, seven submitters were chosen to give 10-minute presentations to a panel of judges.

Milwaukee organized a party, inviting the public to come and hear the top 10 ideas. A panel chose the winning concept — conversion of vacant lots into urban farms and homesteads — and appointed the idea’s originator as a project manager.

Inspired by the very town halls from which ideas were culled, Lexington decided on a proposal that creates a platform for engaging citizens in city planning and problem solving.

What do you think about the methods stated above to obtain and evaluate citizen ideas? What other approaches are you aware of for obtaining citizen ideas?

About The Author

The definition of reinvent is:to replace with an entirely new version, to make over completely, to recast something familiar or old into a different form.In my opinion we need to reinvent government, business and ourselves. Today’s world is about constant change driven by the power of new ideas.For the past 17 years as an attorney, I have worked in government at the county, city, authority and school district level in the Buffalo, NY area. I have seen first hand the need for reinventing how government operates. For a period of four years, I served as Chief of Staff to the 9 member City of Buffalo Common Council. Government must engage the talents and skills of its citizens by becoming more collaborative and transparent in its decision-making and operations. Utilizing technology as a tool to engage citizens is something all governments need to explore.I have great respect for entrepreneurs as they put their passion into a vision, which results in new products, new services and new jobs. Entrepreneurs are on the front lines of change. As an adjunct college instructor, I see how students and everyone for that matter must continually change and reinvent themselves to survive and be successful in today’s crazy world economy.Some of my favorite change agent writers are Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Gary Hamel and Guy Kawasaki. I welcome the opportunity to meet new people, to further my own learning and to share ideas.On a personal note I am 47 years old, my other half Cheryl is an attorney in private practice and together we have three children, Michael age 20 and Joseph age 14 and our newest shock of an addition Julia, born 11/2/11.