After running consultations with consumers and carers over the past few years, I have noticed a trend that needs to be taken into consideration when consulting with more disadvantaged groups. There could be a formal name for this already but for now let's call it Gratitude Bias.
Working with clients who are committed to re-building relationships with their communities, no matter how broken or difficult the past has been, is inspiring. The commitment, courage and work of staff behind the scenes is a reminder that amazing things can happen when people are committed to change.
For many organisations, community engagement is a set of ‘strategies’ strung together to either gather community opinion or to inform the community of a given scenario. Coming from the community development sector and having worked with community engagement for a number of years, I have often wondered about the overlap and the impact of one on the other.
Community engagement can at times be treated as an add-on to projects and as a way of dealing with outrage or conflict. There are inherent risks in doing this ad-hoc engagement including damaging trust, diminishing reputation and risking that significant projects fall through the gaps.
In the last article we asked the question…Have you ever walked into a meeting and felt like it was groundhog day, a discussion that has been had and was not going anywhere in particular? We explored the possible reasons for this on a historical level and gave a simple strategy to help meetings build and maintain purpose and focus. Read more from that blog.
For a moment, lets take the benefits of engagement as a given; improvements to the decision-making process, improved outcomes, strengthening relationships with stakeholders and the community, improving confidence in the decision making process, and so on.
I spend much of my time working with organisations, their stakeholders and their communities on visions, strategies and problems. In a world where things appear to be getting busier and organisations are asked to do more with less, there is a tendency to focus more on the BIG stuff.