Secrets of effective Secrets of effective consultation. About Elton Consulting â€¢ Leaders in...
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Brendan Blakeley, Associate Director Elton Consulting
Secrets of effective consultation
About Elton Consulting • Leaders in community engagement and stakeholder consultation • Design, facilitate and manage consultation processes • Private sector, government, community groups
Darwin - Martin Klopper MartinK@elton.com.au 0406 955 766 Sydney - Brendan Blakeley Brendan@elton.com.au 0412 686 026
What is engagement? • Brings diverse perspectives together • Inclusive, transparent and collaborative • Helps to build new solutions • Balances competing needs • Communicates the ‘why’ to stakeholders • Usually a formal process • Keeps stakeholders informed • Makes reform and change easier – when done successfully • Requires careful planning • One of many inputs to an eventual decision
Handing over decision-making or control to stakeholders About creating universal consensus – even around the best project or policy ever planned! A one off event About asking people what they want?
The key to successful engagement: be clear from day one which decisions can and cannot be influenced – what’s negotiable and what’s not.
What stakeholder engagement isn’t…
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
If well planned and well executed - you will get a result !!
Plan for the worst but don’t limit potential opportunities and positives by focussing solely on what could go wrong.
It is usually a poorly chosen technique or bad timing that generates confrontational situations.
Around 90% of our engagements - even on really tough issues are constructive.
What does conflict and anger usually mask? – Depth of values/attachment, Fear of change, Loss of control , Misperceptions, Need for recognition.
How would I feel - if it was
Activity: Understanding stakeholders
How would I feel if it was me ? Empathy is a good starting point to understanding how stakeholders may react and what their needs may be.
It doesn’t have to get in the way of the job you have to do.
You can be empathetic and be firm - if there is no room to move on a decision you can talk about process for implementation and how to best manage the impacts of decision
Assuming the standpoint of the other a great starting point and good bulls&@# detector. Questions to ask yourself are:
• How would I like someone to have that discussion with me
• What kind of environment / approach is most conducive
to having that discussion
1. Purpose, purpose, purpose!! Keep front of mind
2. Wrap the engagement around the project
3. Find a champion and high-level support
4. Figure out what you’ll need to do and when
5. Respect the community and stakeholders you’re speaking with
6. Make sure your stakeholders understand why you’re talking to them
7. Work with key influencers
8. Involve the ‘usual suspects’ but don’t let them dominate
9. Monitor and review how the process is going
10. Engagement is step by step – you’re in for the long haul
Top ten tips
Before you even begin
Get your house in order...
Give yourself time - consult early
Key steps in stakeholder
engagement for shopping centres
Be clear about what you are planning, the purpose of public engagement and extent of stakeholder influence
How would you feel?
Step 1 – Understand what engagement is The processes by which agencies, stakeholders and the general community are invited to contribute to the developing and implementing strategy, policies, programs and services.
Encompasses a wide variety of interactions, formal and informal.
From information sharing to more active consultation through to collaboration in decision making processes.
Allows us to tap into diverse perspectives and new solutions to improve the quality of its decisions.
Is open, transparent and participatory. and ideally occurs over time
Is proactive and defensive
Can create connections that enable communities and stakeholders to better understand the reasons for proposed strategy and reform.
Can build understanding and mandates for change that are more sustainable than when we drive these agendas alone.
Is not always the solution?
Step 2 – Establish context Understanding the project’s scope, purpose, context, timing and deliverables is critical to determining the engagement requirements of the project and integrating them to add value to the project. Key questions to consider include:
What is the background to the project?
What are the drivers for the project and how urgent are they?
What is the purpose and objective of the project and role of engagement
What is the external environment in which the project will take place?
How will engagement add value to the project? In some cases it may not!
Step 3 – Purpose and Objectives Determining engagement objectives should be from your own requirements as well as from a community and stakeholder perspective. This will include considering:
Why is the engagement being undertaken? - to educate, to introduce notion of change and rational for change , to understand range of views, seek community input into how to manage change,, collaborate with community in delivering change
What will success look like for your organisation? How will we know if it has been achieved?
How will the results of the engagement be used by your organisation?
What are the existing engagement mechanisms being used by your organisation?
What commitments have been made to stakeholders about engaging them?
Remember to consider both content /issue at hand and the ongoing relationships with stakeholders . A short term gain or expediency can alienate stakeholders and cause longer term problems .
Step 4 – Who will need to be involved? The types of people and organisations to be engaged will vary depending on the scope and objectives of each project .An environmental scan is a common starting point. Questions to consider include:
Who will have an interest in the outcomes of the project?
Who will be directly impacted? Who could be indirectly impacted
Who holds knowledge that could be of value to the project?
Whose views could influence the outcomes of the project?
Identifying the types of stakeholders who may need to be engaged will help to determine the most appropriate engagement approach for the project.
• Government – elected representatives
• Departments and agencies • Regulatory authorities • Peak bodies, NGOs, advocacy
groups • Landowners and businesses • Clients/customers • Academics and educational
institutions • Media
Activity: Identifying stakeholders Elected
representatives in all three tiers of
Federal Government departments
Landowners and businesses Local Councils
NT Government agencies and
utilities Clients and customers
Peak bodies and advocacy groups
Community and local organisations
Regional and local communities
Academics and educational institutions
Identifying communities and stakeholders
Questions to help identify communities and stakeholders and their interests include:
• What else is happening out there that could intersect with your project, potentially impacting stakeholder interest or causing confusion?
• What is the history of engagement in this area? Have they ‘heard it all before’? Is cynicism or consultation fatigue likely?
• Is there media or political heat around the policy area, if so where is it coming from?
• Are there community members or stakeholders who will be impacted by the change, but who until now have had limited opportunity for input?
• Will the impacts of a change of policy be different in urban, regional and remote areas?
• Are there gaps in the team’s knowledge of specific community or stakeholder interests that can only be filled by direct communication with them?
Ways to find your stakeholders
• Brainstorming with team members to build a map of stakeholders and current knowledge about them
• Contacting Councils and peak bodies
• Reviewing previous community submissions
• Searching the media for relevant stories and reports
• Identifying relevant websites and stakeholder blogs
• Searching existing stakeholder databases to identify individuals and organisation contact details
• Advertising and notification
• Mapping an area of impact – BEWARE - geographical proximity may not be the only criteria.
Engaging project champions
The role of a project champion is to advocate for the project. They can:
• Help provide a consensus building framework for the process, providing a greater partnership with your organisation in the engagement process
• Can be internal to your or