Choice and Influence

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement + Communications

So, in our house, the paint debate continues. My six year old is making the case for “first snowfall”, while my three year wants “all colours everywhere”. My husband is making the case for “patriotic white”, while I am loving “sea foam”. We all see ourselves as stakeholders and with more than 10,000 colours available, the choices seem endless. Sometimes, engagements (on more than paint chips) are like that. There seems to be so much choice and a world of possibility.

When working with clients, we work with them to refine down from the universe of possibilities to what is feasible and desirable. Like with paint colours, there are a few key steps we take to facilitate this conversation:

  • What is definitely off the table and why?
  • Based on what’s out, what are the key criteria for the project?
  • Based on the criteria for success, what can be further be removed as an optimal option?
  • When you think about your project goal, what are the most likely range of optimal options?
  • When you think about engaging your stakeholders and community, are there some pieces of feedback that will have more influence than others based on the criteria?

In our current paint scenario, anything outside of blue, green and white was out, because it wouldn’t go with our colours and our goal of trying to have serene and calming colours (important in a chaotic house). Additional criteria are that the colours had to work with our existing new colours – decorator’s white and antique pearl – and it had to be from Benjamin Moore. Based on samples and our “criteria”, we came up with the options pictured in this post. In terms of the engagement, the piece of feedback that was most important was “is there a colour the adults can’t live with?

Choice is a often a goldilocks scenario – we want some choice, but not too much. As public participant practitioners, part of our role is in understanding when and where to engage stakeholders and the public. Is it at the 10,000 paint chip scenario, or when it comes down to four options that are all viable. Stay tuned for our final paint colour choice!