Consent-Building Clinic #72: Recorded September 2015
Help! When we involve stakeholders early in our planning process – which is something we strive to do – many of them jump prematurely to a solution.”
This can happen even with the more sophisticated stakeholders, such as other government agencies. They immediately want to know: “What are going to DO?” . . . This, at a time when you’re still in the head-scratching phase of trying to understand what the problem is. The trouble is: Early in the process you normally DON’T yet know what the solution is that you’re going to wind up proposing.
- Watch the Video Follow-Up on how Jumping to Solutions can damage your credibility and legitimacy
And yet, if you begin to reach out to these stakeholders only AFTER you’ve decided what solution you’re going to propose, they’re likely to say: “NOW you come to us, AFTER you’ve decided what to do?!”
What we have here, is a head-on collision of several Public Involvement truths:
- The most constructive public involvement results from EARLY – and continuing – involvement.
- The first nine steps in any Problem-Solving/Decision-Making process have to do with understanding the Problem and its causes. For example, in our 16-step planning process “Generating Solutions” is Step 10 . . . i.e. It is NOT an early step.
- But, the human brain – even the brain of subject-matter experts – tends to race almost IMMEDIATELY to the Solution Generation step . . . side-stepping, short-changing, pole-vaulting-over . . . the several Problem Analysis steps . . . It appears that THIS mistake is in our DNA! So, of course your stakeholders are going to make it. Just be sure YOU don’t make it!
As is true of so many of the frustrations on which our Brownbag sessions focus, there is a lot more to this particular one than meets the eye. The three enumerated statements, above, ARE true.
The trouble is, every time you think you’re going to involve your stakeholders early in your process, . . . WHAMMO! . . . these three truths collide head-on, creating a public involvement car-wreck!
Always remember: It’s for stuff like this, i.e. for figuring out how to minimize damage to your effectiveness in Public Involvement car-wrecks, that you are paid the huge salaries that you are paid (ha!).
Tune in; we’ll do all we can to help you pull the fat out of the fire for your team and demonstrate to your team and your supervisors that you’re worth every dollar of that “humongous” salary.