Everyone Should Experience Engagement

Myself and a few people from the Overlap Associates team have been out and about the past few weeks meeting with possible participants for our engagement work. We have driven over 500km across Waterloo Wellington meeting some amazing people. We meet wherever they are most comfortable, such as a coffee shop, their home, a local provider’s office, etc. We are learning some great places to grab a coffee or snack!

I must say I am so honoured and humbled to be meeting these folks. Everyone has shown such generosity in letting us into their lives with the hope of making the ‘system’ better. Many have welcomed us into their homes with open arms, each wanting to make sure we are comfortable. They all take time to be welcoming and inviting, even when it might not be their best day. Amazing how they tend to our needs when we are there to learn about theirs!

Network Mapping in action! This was our test run of network mapping with paper, markers and Meeples. What a neat way to visually represent a participant's context.

Network Mapping in action! This was our test run of network mapping with paper, markers and Meeples. What a neat way to visually represent a participant's context.

The process we are using to get to know folks is also very interesting. We haven’t been focusing on their diagnoses or all the negative stuff going on in their life. We have been deliberately trying to understand who they are and where they are in their life. We use a visual mapping exercise called network mapping blended with empathy mapping to understand their current context. This usually involves questions about who they know, where they go, what they do, and how all of that is experienced. We also ask them questions about what matters to them and their hopes. We then draw all of this right in front of them to show connections and experiences.  

We throw in some colourful markers, miniature people (called Meeples) and houses (from Settlers of Catan) to make the exercise a bit fun. People seem to find the experience interesting and generally a neat way to show their context. So far, only one Settlers of Catan casualty when an excited dog thought a game piece was dinner.

Check out our pile of Meeples! A simple yet fun way to visually map the people in a participant's life.

Check out our pile of Meeples! A simple yet fun way to visually map the people in a participant's life.

We have also been designing custom engagement plans for each participant. This allows us to use things that people are interested in (i.e. writing, poetry, music, storytelling, painting, technology) to learn from them. We have come up with some questions to guide our activities. We are also busy creating custom engagement tools for participants including:

  • Journals made just for them
  • A personalized web-based tool for our tech lover

  • Getting cameras for people to take pictures of their experiences

  • Developing questions geared to their lives and what matters to them

Next up: We’re back on the road meeting with someone living in a rural community, a couple of new Canadians (with support from interpreters) and continuing our engagement with folks. Stay tuned through the month of November as we ramp up our activity and start to learn from our participants.

Brooke