The classic Plan-Do-Check-Act management system provides a framework for developing a strategic approach to engagement at three levels;
1 – Effectively sharing “one-way” information so that a community understands project benefits and disadvantages
- Plan who needs information and what information to share
- Plan when and how to share information so it is understandable, accessible, and credible
- Use appropriate mechanisms to distribute information
- Check that communications have increased understanding
- Act on feedback to adjust information distribution plan
2 – Engaging in effective two-way dialogue in which the community can articulate its concerns and desired benefits
- Plan for opportunities for dialogue
- Listen to community concerns
- Provide additional information about expressed concerns
- Check that additional communications have addressed concerns and expectations
- Evaluate the engagement process and results
- Provide additional opportunities for engagement
3 – Creating an effective and trusting company-community relationship that collaboratively addresses community concerns and enhances benefits
- Plan what decisions will be shared for mitigation and social development
- Use appropriate decision-making mechanisms to make joint community-company decisions
- Implement actions to address community concerns
- Check that results of decision making are meeting environmental and social expectations
- Adjust actions based on performance
- Publish a report that reviews the effectiveness of actions taken to address community concerns and expectations
While each level of engagement builds on the previous, each level must be maintained in order to scale up engagement efforts. For example, while you may have an ongoing relationship with a community that integrates joint-decision making, you will probably need to continue to provide one-way information to that community. Additionally, each level is designed to be an iterative, continuous improvement model. For example, once a company has established a trusting relationship it should continuously be monitoring the results of decisions and taking action to ensure community concerns are being met.
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