Elected councillors and senior council managers are the people who decide whether an engagement proposal should fly or die. If they decide it should fly, then they are going to need regular update reports to let them know what is happening, if the project is running as it should, and if it isn’t, why that is and what corrective actions may be necessary by their practitioner team.
In the community engagement governance space, councillors and senior managers also need to identify projects or initiatives that will need a supporting engagement plan. Their Significance Policy should be helping with those decisions. Legislative changes to the Local Government Act likely to take effect in 2014 will require them to have a Significance AND Engagement Policy. We have prepared a kit that will help councils work through the steps needed to complete one of these and we will be launching that early in 2014.
Engagement plans for specific projects and initiatives should be guided by an overarching engagement strategy. Too few organisations have one of these, relying instead on a communication strategy. We think that communication should be viewed as a component of engagement, not the other way around. It should be identified and planned for early, rather than left until the last minute, as seems to happy way too often.
While community engagement may sound complex, it is or should be straightforward for organisations that are committed to it and who are prepared to invest in good systems, governance training and trained practitioners. We can help with all of that. We’re also happy to discuss your needs on a no commitment basis – the coffee’s on us!