IAP2 Spectrum – has it Reached its Use-by Date

I remember the first time I met the Spectrum. I was at a pub one night (truthfully – ok it was an IAP2 networking event when there were less than 100 members in Australasia). And it was love at first sight.

Never before had I seen something that clearly articulated how much influence the public would have in decision making. Actually, it was the first tool I’d seen which explicitly talked about influence over decisions.

We didn’t just continue to date. We married. And I was so committed I won some awards and joined the IAP2 Australasian Committee.

But as we got to know each other, something happened. I saw its limitations.

It didn’t deliver everything I needed. I don’t think I was being fussy – I just needed more.

So when I introduced it to others – especially as a trainer for IAP2’s Certificate of Public Participation – I started to make additions and explanations.

I added the role of the public – in the recognition that the Spectrum was only useful if it was clear what the public’s role was.

I added the “what’s it all about” taglines as people struggled with the lengthy words.

And then, I lay the orbits of participation on its side and over the top to show how the Spectrum didn’t live in isolation on a pedestal – that it played with other theories and Models.

But it has two key weaknesses. It assumes it’s in charge. It assumes that we, as the organisation, is in control and we choose a level for engagement for others on the IAP2 spectrum. And it doesn’t look ahead to what happens with a decision once it’s made.

I still love it.

But I’m realistic. I need more. The new IAP2 Model if Engagement, which is embedded into the new Australasian Certificate of Engagement – developed by me, Amanda Newbery, and Anne Patillo and Michelle Feenan – seeks to create another model for defining and planning engagement.

The Model has received strong support across the Australasian industry as it acknowledges that sometimes the organisation will lead the engagement process, and sometimes the community will. It also describes who will be primarily responsible for implementing the actions that arise from the decisions made. It acknowledges that there’s life beyond the decision.

I urge you to meet the new model, date it, see if you click and then make a long term commitment.

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