Stakeholder engagement can trace its origins back to the early participatory movements of the 1960s. People in environmental and community groups wanted to have a say in the way that their local areas were being changed. Governments and community leaders realised that they had to make sense of the process as neither the mechanisms of protest nor of public inquiries worked.
In particular the Sherry Arnstein, a town planner from the USA developed the Ladder of Participation in 1969 to illustrate the levels of engagement - not all engagement is equal. In 1970 the UK government published the Skeffington Report which acknowledged the rights of stakeholders to be involved in decisions which affected them and it suggested some methods to make it work.
This was a far-sighted approach on the part of both academics and government. Since then, many people have come to understand the importance of stakeholder engagement at the community, organisational and project level
So, have we made significant progress since 1969 in the intention and the means to make Stakeholder Engagement work? Have we got the balance right between speedy decision-making and the need to get people ‘on board’? Is there adequate training for managers and project leaders to understand the value of engagement?
I am looking forward to the event on Thursday “In Stormy Seas - Keep Your Stakeholders on Board” to learn more. In tough times, with diminished resources, Stakeholder Engagement is as important as ever.
Chrissie Gibson is Managing Director of Connectivity Associates Ltd – linking people, places and ideas. We provide training in stakeholder engagement and communication skills. See www.connectivityassociates.com/training