Religious Organisation

Religious Organization - Harrogate, England.
Project Description
With libraries closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were asked by a religious organisation, whose congregations were not meeting in person, to help them to find the best ideas and to discover consensus, regarding the usage of their library. The pandemic had already brought rapid technological developments for this religious group, some of which were popular and some less so.

This religious organisation did not have a clergy; instead, they made their own decisions, without a hierarchy. Decision-making was often not a quick process, though it was usually thorough, the will of their congregation. Making decisions in an exclusively online world was a new phenomenon, and often unsatisfactory one.

The library committee was aware that traditional online survey tools did not usually generate wisdom in a conversational way, often leading the participants in the particular direction as set by the question-setters. In this instance, what was needed was a genuinely open and transparent wisdom-gathering tool. Polis fitted the task.

Working with the library committee, we framed the Polis conversation and then created some statements, to commence the conversational flow.

How to run their library post-lockdown

The Polis

The Polis was open for three weeks. To distribute the Polis, the religious organisation sent the link to all their congregation by email in their newsletter and by text message.

Using advanced statistics and machine learning, Polis found groups within groups of this congregation, based on answers and statements, and plotting them on a graph. The more data is collated, the more useful the results.

The Outcome

Based upon the results, the committee learned a great deal about their congregation and their preferences. With only 20 participants, 427 votes were still cast, with 31 additional statements submitted by the congregation. The 31 additional statements were of great importance to the library committee, with the congregation voting on them.

The library committee discovered ideas that they had not previously countenanced. After analysing the data, the committee formulated new policies, knowing that these policies enjoyed consensus within the congregation and that fresh ideas had been unearthed.

Essentially, each member of the congregation was treated equally and anonymously, although Polis does rely on recipients having access to the internet.

The committee distributed the full results of the Polis conversation to their congregation in a transparent way.


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