It’s Monday morning and your boss has just told you the organization needs to get some public input on the latest project. Let’s imagine it’s a design for a new children’s playground. So you set to work writing questions for an online survey and looking at the corporate calendar for when to schedule a public open house. Right?
Not so fast. First of all, who are you trying to get input from? And what’s the best way to reach them? How will their feedback be used? Oh, and what about a budget?
The list of questions could go on and on. But we can boil it down to just one: What’s your public participation (P2) plan?
When we think about P2 it’s natural to go straight to the techniques – the concrete activities like surveys and focus groups – that can help elicit input from your stakeholders. For those in the P2 industry, it’s interesting and exciting to read about the latest smartphone app designed to engage the public and spark online collaboration.
But all those fancy tools will end up being a big waste of time and money if you don’t put enough effort into careful planning.
The scope of the decision, the timeline, potential impacts, the people and groups that could be affected, and several other factors must be carefully considered – well before anyone even thinks of calling the caterer to order coffee and muffins for the open house. Prudent preparation can help make sure your organization doesn’t spend $10,000 on a referendum (that’s not legally binding anyway) on whether or not to cut down a tree that’s posing a public safety risk.
Thankfully, the experts at the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) have a proven, step-by-step planning process that anyone charged with organizing P2 can learn and implement. In fact, the trainers at IAP2 believe so strongly in the planning process that the 3-day course “Planning for Effective Public Participation” is a prerequisite for the 2-day P2 techniques training.
Together, the planning and techniques modules make up the Foundations in Public Participation certificate course, which is coming up Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 in Vancouver. Join Engage Delaney’ certified IAP2 trainer Jessica Delaney and learn firsthand how solid P2 planning processes can help take the guesswork out of public participation and ultimately lead to more sustainable decisions.
Click here for more info on the upcoming course.