Consent-Building Clinic #70: July 14th, 2015:
“No matter what we tell our stakeholders, they always assume a decision has already been made, and that – therefore – it would be a waste of their time to get involved in our planning process.”
Boy oh boy! . . . Are there ANY public officials who DON’T give voice to this complaint?
So, if your public again and again feels that you’re asking them to get involved in a process where the horse has already left the barn, when – in fact – it has NOT, stay tuned.
On the one hand, the perception that their involvement could not possibly make a difference – when it still CAN – is a very damaging misperception. It undermines your credibility. It is a very damaging misperception, one that hinders your team’s effectiveness!
On the other hand, stakeholders’ feeling that their involvement is not going to change anything isn’t always a misperception. Quite often, it’s the TRUTH! . . . Public agencies often inadvertently create – or aggravate – the perception that their stakeholders can have a greater influence on the outcome than is really possible. You’ve got to be careful that you don’t create unrealistic expectations.