Methodology: Stakeholder Engagement- Step 1

Stakeholder engagement is a critical first step in organizing your sustainable community planning process.

Your stakeholder engagement process, which will be an on-going activity, will probably include the following key tasks.
1) Recruit a representative group of your community’s stakeholders, leaders, public officials and citizens to serve as a Coordinating Committee to guide the planning process.

TIP- You can complement the Coordinating Committee with sub-committees; advisory groups; work teams focused on specific tasks, etc.

2) Organize  collaboration, involving all sectors of the community e.g., public private, non-profit, citizen-volunteers, academia, etc. is an essential aspect of producing and implementing a sustainable community plan that actually gets implemented and improves quality of life.
TIP-In “Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Public Problems in a Shared Power World” the authors, Bryson and Crosby noted that serious problems facing society could no longer be effectively “solved” by any one organization…no one organization had the needed power, authority, expertise or money.
Bottom line.. if you don’t do the work to develop an effective collaboration your sustainable community plan will either fail outright or fall far short of your goals.

3) From the start you want to insure that your planning process involves relevant elected officials AND you work to insure that the voting public supports elected officials in making the tough choices needed to insure your sustainable community plan actually gets implemented.
TIP Make a giant poster with the following quote by Yankelovich and Harman from their book “Starting With the People” and place it at the front of all meetings. “The technical cleverness of the few is no substitute for the political will of the many…..”
Organizing collaboration and community participation is hard, messy, and frustrating. Many times planners want to focus on the “technical work” and forego organizing support needed for tough political decisions.
This is a trap you want to avoid!

4) You will probably find it necessary to designate someone as a Project Manager aka Sustainable Development Coordinator. This person keeps track of and facilitates assignments to committees; insures information is managed in a timely fashion; answers questions from participants; prepares/collates progress reports, etc. The sustainable community planning process involves a wide variety of tasks, people, information, problem solving etc. and designating someone as a Coordinator or Chief of Staff is a practical necessity. The person selected for this role must have the following qualifications:

  • Respected by stakeholders and participants
  • Excellent verbal, written, social media skills
  • Patient, diplomatic
  • Excellent at multitasking
  • Excellent manager and organizer