Timing is a critical component of any successful engagement activity. Knowing when to engage can make the difference between getting a great turnout of people who wish to engage and getting a big turnout of people who are angry at the lack of time they have to participate in the process! It can be a very fine line.
So you can see why this can be fraught with danger. However, the one rule of a thumb that I live by with engagement is it’s better to be too early than too late. That is, unless you have some kind of Delorean Time Machine and the ability to bend time and space. If this is the case then by all means carry on.
Here are my top five reasons why it is useful to engage early in the process;
- It gives your stakeholders time to process information
- It’s the right thing to do to give your stakeholders time to ask questions, yes even probing ones
- You just might learn something that better informs your processes
- Openness and transparency is the best risk mitigation strategy there is!
- Learn your stakeholder’s language: Be in a position to better describe what you are doing using language that your community will understand.