Day 7: Create an Environment of No Surprises

Except for at Christmas time, and maybe the occasional birthday, most people don’t like surprises – particularly in an engagement setting or when focused on process.

What does it mean?

In the context of public and stakeholder engagement, creating an environment of no surprise means just that: There should be no surprises in the process for the engagement host or sponsor, the engagement team, nor the stakeholders. The process of how the decision will be made, and the role that stakeholders and/or the public will play, and their level of influence, is well communicated in advance of the engagement launch.

There might be surprising feedback during the engagement, but the process itself should not be a surprise.

What does it look like?

No surprises = excellent internal and external communications.

This means the process:

  • Has internal buy-in and approval from the decision maker,
  • Is well communicated with all stakeholders,
  • The level of influence (where on the IAP2 Spectrum) is clear and agreed upon by all, and
  • The details of the engagement are well documented and track-able.

In order to gain support for your engagement process, stakeholders (both internal and external) need to feel like they are being kept in the loop and there will not be any “got ya” moments.

An easy check is to ask yourself: If ________ (my boss, the community liaison group, the Board of Directors, etc.) read this in the newspaper, would they be surprised? We aim to answer a definitive NO to this question.

This is part of an ongoing series exploring Delaney + Associates’ Company Creed. Check out the introduction piece here.

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