All posts in Stakeholder Engagement

Engaging on Transport Infrastructure

“I’ve been yelled at. Threatened. Spat at. Cried at. I’ve felt in danger. I’ve felt frightened. I’ve felt exhausted.” That’s how one colleague has described her life as an engagement manager on a major road construction job.

But it’s her perfect job.

“I get to really make a difference. I get to say, come on, how are we going to get through this together.” By now she’s smiling. “I get to make a real difference.”

When it comes to engagement, there are the projects that lift up spirits or inspire us. And there are the jobs where it’s just hard work.

Road and rail construction is tough. It’s about telling people that their land is being resumed. Or that they’ll have to live with 18 months of noisy, dusty construction and when it’s all done, that the road will still be there. It’s about listening, and being empathetic. It’s about validating the concerns and frustrations of community members.

So what do you do when the project is going ahead and there’s only a handful of things we can ask the community to provide input on?

Here are the things that matter most when there are few negotiables.

  • Empathy – No, you can’t shift the road. But you can shift the way people feel. You can listen to them, understand, and let them know it’s hard.
  • Documentation – It’s critical to document needs, and your own commitments. Nothing could be worse for a stakeholder than having their comments lost.
  • Supporting verbal conversations with written materials – When you’re telling someone that you’re going to resume their property or take away their privacy or outlook, it’s a shock. It’s a swirl of white noise. It’s feeling lost and frightened and confused. Unless there’s a take home, then it’s impossible to remember. It’s the critical time to get the facts right and to offer support.
  • The little things can make the biggest difference – Ok, so you still can’t move the road, but you can help community members to find help, to relocate, to understand how to ask for construction workers to be mindful of their children and neighbourhood.

 

It’s a celebrity… get ME outta here!

When it comes to reality TV, celebrities sell. But when it comes to facilitation, sticking a celebrity out front won’t fool ‘em. And you might pay dearly for the mistake.

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We know how to manage complex change

Climate change is an issue facing all of us. Community awareness and engagement around how to deal with climate change is something that a number of councils are working towards.

Articulous recently worked with Moreton Bay Regional Council to plan how to engage with their local communities to communicate climate change related risk and build resilience.

The Council’s objective was to prepare the community for the more frequent, larger and longer lasting extreme weather events that Australia is experiencing, including heatwaves and sea level rises.

In the case of heatwaves, this pattern is expected to increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths in Australia, particularly within more `at risk’ community sectors, including the elderly, the very young, people with a disability, CALD communities, low income households, and those with existing illnesses.

Sea levels on the east coast of Australia are currently predicted to rise by 1m by the end of this century.

Through its engagement, Moreton Bay Regional Council aimed to:

  1. Raise awareness within the community (particularly `at risk’ groups) of the very real risks that extreme weather event related conditions pose to health, safety and property
  2. Facilitate behaviour change that practically builds both individual and community level preparedness for climate change related extreme weather events and in doing so reduces their impact on health, safety and property

At Articulous we really enjoy working with the challenges that the future presents us, particularly with the ‘tough’ projects like dealing with climate change.

When engagement gets tricky: tips to get you across the line

When engagement gets tricky: tips to get you across the line

A question we hear time and time again from our clients is how to tackle difficult engagement.

Whether it be highly emotional issues, opposing viewpoints, lack of strategic direction, or differing levels of commitment – engagement can stop short in its tracks without the right approach.

The following tips will help you to navigate often tricky situations:

  1. Understand your stakeholders and their needs. Undertake a risk analysis to ensure you know their key issues, concerns, requirements and how you might approach the engagement.
  2. Have clear objectives around the engagement, don’t stray away from what you are trying to achieve. This is when things can become challenging.
  3. As the engagement progresses, be prepared to make changes. Engagement pathways can change depending on influencing factors such as political or social environments.
  4. Treat everyone with respect, give them equal voices and make them feel heard. You may need to make tough decisions along the way, but your process will be respected.
  5. Keep records, follow up, communicate outcomes and be willing to accept feedback on your approach.
  6. Try to keep the emotion out of it. Stakeholders can get emotional about an issue, but as professionals your job is to be objective with your approach.
  7. When you feel your engagement is not fulfilling its objectives, or there’s a lack of commitment, review what you’ve done and re-assess your strategy. Don’t be afraid to take a different approach.

Why staff, stakeholders and community are better at innovation: 5 Insights

The development of new app that will streamline compliance processes costs and save millions to an energy organisation, creation of a centralised system to map capability to automate HR processes, financial commitment by disparate parties to create a regional ecosystem to drive innovation on the ground. In working across innovation, digital economies and smart city work across the country, here are 5 key insights.

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Let’s talk Citizens’ Juries – with Max Hardy

Citizens’ Juries have proven to be quite versatile for a range of issues and decisions. More recently I have seen some citizens’ juries address more open ended questions, providing directions for long term planning, and identifying principles to inform policy development.

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Facing the Music can build Community Trust

I recently had the pleasure of travelling throughout the Surat Basin in south west Queensland with a client of Articulous for a week, facilitating community information sessions. There were a few key lessons that I took away from that week that I thought were worth sharing, purely from a practical perspective.

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Public Meetings – the good, the bad and the ugly

Public meetings. Ugghhhh. We often try to avoid them, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve also seen them work really well.

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We are the Online World – how Technology and the Internet can enable Online Engagement

Recently discussions have begun to explore the concept that we are the internet and the internet is a reflection of us. This has many ramifications for the way we approach online engagement, so let’s explore what this means.

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Will Gamification work for your Project? – Reduce your Juice Revisited

It wasn’t just about engaging people, but about changing behaviour, so the games were designed to teach people positive actions and show them the gamified result with the aim of then replicating the real life behaviour

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Why Engage? Because we’re Human.

In an age where data is king, and every transaction and enquiry is trackable, some will ask “why engage?”. Why spend the time? Why take the added expense?

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8 tips to nailing a top-line presentation

Presenting your hard work can be daunting, especially when it’s to senior management, but it’s also a great opportunity to demonstrate what you have achieved and the value of your findings.

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Evaluation – what does it really mean for your communication or engagement project?

Evaluation is a common word in communication and engagement circles, and yet it is often overlooked or hastily considered at the conclusion of a project.

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Are we getting the Engagement Expectation Right?

“…This session is part of what will be ongoing engagement with industry and the community about the project. We want to involve the industry and community in the project. But this isn’t some all empowering engagement thing…”

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Digitally disrupted? Then it’s time to Re-Evaluate Communication and Engagement Practices

While the word ‘disruption’ may insinuate a problem, what is really being described is a movement or permanent change to the way business operates that can lead to benefits for the business and its stakeholders.

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Even when Engagement looks like it Failed it can Teach you a lot.

However this one particular session did not exactly erupt with enthusiasm from the local community. So what does this mean? Did the engagement fail?

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Why do Stakeholder Lists Matter, and Who is Responsible?

Knowledge of who your stakeholders are and how to contact them is imperative to any organisation, yet this is one area, in my experience, that organisations do poorly.

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Why Is Outrage In Public Discourse Acceptable?

It seems to me that outrage, confected or otherwise is being seen as a completely legitimate tool in public discourse.

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If You’re Not At The Dinner Table You Might Be On The Menu

In IAP2 and community engagement land there is a great saying that goes along the lines of; if you’re not at the dinner table you might be on the menu.

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Community Engagement Versus Stakeholder Engagement

Over the past few months of IAP2 training there have been some very interesting discussions about community versus stakeholder engagement.c

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