This is part of an ongoing series exploring Delaney + Associates’ top 10 engagement tips, also known as our Company Creed. Check out Day 1 here.
Today’s principle seems pretty simple: Never Guess. This is along the lines of “never assume, because when you assume you make an…” Well, you know the rest.
What does it mean?
In the context of public and stakeholder engagement, Never Guess means that we do our research, and ask people about preferences, expectations, past engagements and much more. We get information, and seek understanding, on our clients’ operating environment, the decision, the decision-maker(s), the process, the non-negotiables, history of engagement, etc. We also talk to stakeholders to find out their needs and preferences for engagement and communication.
We ask effective, strategic questions. We listen actively, then we paraphrase and repeat to make sure we understand. Never Guess is also about ongoing learning, evaluation and adapting.
What does it look like?
During a recent project, we worked with a multi-stakeholder advisory group to provide input into our engagement plan and process. After we designed a detailed plan for a series of workshops, we took the draft workshop agenda to the advisory group for feedback.
We ended up changing at least six aspects of the workshop plans based on their input. For example, we adjusted the timing and removed a whole-group report-back session to allow for longer small-group sessions. The workshops went well, and participant evaluations were positive.