In community engagement, failing to plan is planning to fail
If you are engaging with stakeholders you want to get business results not angst, right? One of the quickest ways to create angst is to get your community engagement approach and implementation wrong because you don’t have time or capability invested in planning your community engagement. To help you out, the first steps of the engagement planning process are these:
- Identify your outcome (why are you engaging)
- Scope the background (so you can identify, understand and put the why what and who into context)
- Identify your stakeholders (who are you engaging)
- Plan your question (what are you engaging about)
If you haven’t stepped into this kind engagement planning process then your engagement efforts won’t get the traction you need (and no, a communication plan is not a substitute to engagement planning) Even worse, failing to plan your community engagement will create poor stakeholder outcomes and create frustrated or angry stakeholders to work with. Starting off with a good and planned question is a key indicator of the success of an engagement process. Here’s why…
Why a Question?
All community engagement has a question associated with it. It’s the question you’re asking your stakeholders to respond to. The right question will encourage your stakeholders to come together, listen and work on coming up with an answer to the question.
The wrong question to stakeholders will make them think that you and your organisation aren’t genuine or that you don’t really want their input. This is, of course, terrible for a brand – your personal brand and your organisations. Talk about a career and PR disaster!
Perhaps even worse than the wrong question, is the unplanned or unintended question. Because your stakeholders will certainly perceive a question even if you haven’t planned one.
There’s a simple fix – do some planning and plan your question
If you need to work with stakeholders then the research and planning you do in engagement is just as important as your operational plans. Stakeholders are real-life people with their own expertise, values, connections, positions and interests. Planning will help you harness all of that expertise and experience. Not planning might just harness all of that expertise and experience to work against you.
A great engagement question for your stakeholders will pose a puzzle. It might even bring two elements together that seem to be in conflict. It will get people excited about being able to share and contribute their values, connections, and interests. And be more flexible with their position.
If you’re not sure where to start or how to go about developing your community engagement question then you should check out this online community engagement course planned just for you. It’s specifically on how to take this first step and develop your question.
You can take the course online and we will lead you through the step by step process to developing the question that will work for you and your project. Enrollment is open until Monday, March 5.
Take a look below to see more about what a great community engagement question can achieve.
What will a good engagement question achieve?
A great community engagement question will:
- Pose a puzzle
- Bring two elements together (they might even seem to be in conflict)
- Raise interest and get people excited about working on the solution.
- Encourage people to share their experience and stories.
- Invite people to generate ideas, and even be creative.
- Incorporate a diverse range of values
- Reassure people that their interests matter
If you want to harness the power of your community engagement efforts then it’s time to invest in how to plan your community engagement and craft a powerful community engagement question.
Online training opportunity – ask the right question!
An opportunity to join an online course on this topic is now available. The course is called Questions Change Everything because… the right question really will change everything. Click the link below to invest in your career and community engagement success.