Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Saturday, 30 August 2008

Visualizing a public participation process

A funnel is a good image to explain the process of public participation. You start such a process with an open mind and scope a wide variety of options, exploring stakeholder groups and opinion leaders for those groups. Their ideas, similar projects etc. You form a team. Explore with your bosses the conditions, limits and policy implications. You calculate human resources, time and other costs. This preparation phase is the most important and most time consuming task. At the end of it you prepare your first meeting.

Holding that meeting is a next step. It should be focused on jointly making explicit the various pathways for change. In the third phase a reality check is done through focus groups and surveys. In the last phase one has a meeting with key stakeholders to jointly plan activities to carry out the optimal change pathway. The result is a plan with clear tasks and responsibilities for the partners. The whole process focuses more and more on real change. Often people jumpt too fast to the first stakeholder meeting. The negative effects often come later. Starting small is another success factor for public participation. And for the meetings themselves the success is also in the preparation. Even here the funnel image works - preparation - creating the right environment - scoping the issue - exploring options - learning and next steps. We used this image in our evaluation of the recent Valsain workshop.

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