“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around once in awhile you could miss it.”
Remember that quote from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”?
Instinctively for some, if you can’t stop and let them look around they have a hard time moving on, especially at public involvement meetings. With that in mind, the goal of a public involvement meeting is to build trust with the public so the design is understood and able to move to the next phase of implementation. Speed, when presenting to the stakeholders’ untrained eye, may not win you the race. Stopping to take a look around can be viewed by some as risky, but from the attendee’s perspective, it shows you are confident of your design and have nothing to hide. The intentional risk of offering additional time to clarify and compare design alternatives and phases against existing conditions may be the winning combination.
Thankfully, the latest infrastructure technology isn’t just about speed and eye candy. There are immersive and interactive options that allow you to slow down, take a look around and explore a design more thoroughly, openly and with a high degree of transparency. Ironically, this slowing down can actually accelerate review and approval process to keep your projects on schedule!
Transparency is key. A successful public involvement campaign does more than engage, involve and educate stakeholders – it fosters trust between agency and citizens. Larger, medium or small firms communicating large or small complex ideas simply to the public can all benefit by braking to take stock of how best to communicate with stakeholders. This braking can not only prevent any unnecessary objections, but in many cases eliminate them by interacting with the public on their terms rather than just presenting show and tell.
While counter intuitive, leveraging fast-paced technology to “stop and take a look around” could be the difference between design acceptance or delay. Thus, in the stakeholder’s eye, first to the finish line is not necessarily the winner.