Evaluation of a Stakeholder Workshop

I suggest the following key goal based criteria:

1. Representative
2. Knowledgeable
3. Shared Understanding
4. Fair and Effective

To measure these criteria, the following questions will be asked through participant and observer surveys at key points during and/or after each Working Group meeting:

1. Representative
Looking at the target versus participant stakeholder profiles, were the participants a fair representation of the affected stakeholders?

2. Knowledgeable
Did the participants comprehend the most important information to make knowledgeable recommendations on this topic?

3. Shared Understanding
Did participants understand the perspectives of other stakeholders?

4. Fair and Effective
Was the meeting process fair and effective at providing equitable opportunity for all in scope ideas and opinions to be considered and recorded?

Open-ended “Why” questions will also be included to gather insight into the reasoning for the answers provided. Results will be analyzed to inform the preparation of the next Working Group meeting.

Results of these survey questions will be published as part of each Working Group meeting documentation.

Town Hall Meetings Fail

Town Hall Meeting

In my professional opinion, a town hall meeting where people determine long term infrastructure decisions by popular vote, is not a recommend public engagement process, because:

  • participation requires public speaking (which is feared by about 75% of the population)
  • only a tiny fraction of the participants will be heard
  • participation is commonly not representative of the range of stakeholders affected
  • the social dynamics of crowds and public debate often appeal to emotions and thus reduce consideration of facts and information most pertinent to infrastructure decisions
  • hand raising to vote can put neighbours in conflict over opinions that could otherwise be kept private
  • where more than two options are presented, vote splitting can cause a minority preference to win (using typical single-choice voting)

Generally, I recommend authorities implement infrastructure upgrades that best compliment their policies and professional best practices.  Where there are competing trade-offs between options, and a better understanding of public opinion (community values and priorities) would be helpful, a private online survey based on easily understood information is my recommendation.  Surveys can record respondent information to make apparent representativeness among the range of stakeholder types (e.g. age, postal code, travel modes transit/motorist/cyclist/pedestrian).

A public drop-in event can also provide opportunities for face-to-face discussions with staff over drawings to help stakeholders understand the options. Stakeholder workshops and citizen reference panels are also recommended where much deeper understanding and deliberation is needed.