Creating a Participation Strategy: The Basics
1. Begin as early as possible; start from wherever you are.
- Understand the history, power & politics, mandates, and other situational factors
- Don't do public participation if leaders/decision makers are not committed to it
2. Get clear about objectives for the project, program, or activity.
- Purpose, audience, goals/outcomes, geography
- How it could affect people (during and after)
- How decisions will be made and who will make them
3. List potentially affected interests.
- Who are they? why would they care? do they know they might care?
- Get beyond the us-vs.-them adversarial outlook have knowledge to contribute
- Have ownership or jurisdictional interests
- Want to be kept informed
- Want to influence the process or the decision
4. Determine the participation objectives.
- What you want or need from participants (internal and external)
- What participants want or need from you and the project
- Check your assumptions about what you think you know or can do
- Do you need help with this part of the project?
5. Decide on strategy and methods.
- May vary with different stages in the project
- May need to have different kinds/levels of interaction
- What budget and staff resources are needed to carry it out?
- What performance measures will tell you if your approach worked?
6. Integrate the public participation opportunities into the overall project schedule; adjust the project schedule if necessary.
- Communicate clearly about when and how people can be involved
- Communicate clearly about how public input will or will not affect the decision
7. Adapt as necessary along the way.
- May need to modify traditional methods to meet process needs
8. Collect feedback and learn from your efforts.