“Public engagement is worthless”, if all the dots aren’t connected.

Posted: August 14th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

If you manage public engagement (PE), sell PE services, or buy them, especially for transportation or other infrastructure projects, take a few minutes to read this post and the comments at Strong Towns.

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If all the connections aren’t made, public engagement may in fact be worthless.

Please resist the temptation to sputter or, especially, post an angry comment. These are good folks who need excellent PE support to fulfill their goals, and they’ve written about this at length.

So when they get frustrated and dismissive, it’s worth figuring out why. These are the questions that arose for me, so I put them to you as well. Regarding the PE efforts you have designed, implemented, bought, or sold:

  1. Did you assess, in each instance, whether the extra cost and time required to do PE was likely to have commensurate results?
  2. If so, did you dissect which aspects of PE – outreach, survey, education, negotiation, publicizing results, long term follow-up – need to be emphasized?
  3. If so, did you work with the client or your senior managers to identify the sponsor’s responsibilities for implementing PE well and following up with integrity?
  4. If so, did you identify indicators and devise a monitoring process to ensure that the effort stayed on track, delivered what was promised, and built trust?
  5. If the answer to any of the above was “no”, did you turn down the work or push hard for a better approach?

I’d love to hear your stories.

For more on how to design and manage public engagement to create results and build trust, see the latest from Facilitation Analytics, Navigating With 3D Evaluation: Public Dialogue For Results.

Image credit: Steve Harvey, Unsplash

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