An agile approach to stakeholder engagement for the COVID-19 era

In just a short six weeks, we have seen a significant shift in stakeholder engagement that pre COVID-19, may have taken several years to realise.

Those who have been reluctant or haven’t had the time to explore what digital engagement has had to offer have had to take a crash course and quickly learn what can be done. Similarly, if data collection activities, including community consultation, haven’t been designed well in the first instance or haven’t been analysed effectively, then others may be unsure and ill-prepared to manage this disruption and keep pace with the current environment with confidence. There is no doubt that this ‘new normal’ is a fluid state and as government policies change and evolve, so too will community needs and expectations. Every day, week or month, there will be a new state of play offered with little warning, which we will need to adapt to. During this time it will be critical to develop resilient, flexible and scalable communication and stakeholder engagement strategies that have the rigour to respond to whatever the next 12 months hold. While strategies must be fit-for-purpose, key principles for developing communication and stakeholder engagement strategies during this period include:

  1. A proactive approach to risk, ensuring there are no surprises and your strategy has mechanisms built in to respond swiftly and seamlessly to whatever challenges are thrown at it
  2. The ability to harness intelligent insights ensuring decision makers have confidence in project decisions
  3. Understanding stakeholder needs, expectations, issues, opportunities and interests and use this real data to make informed decisions
  4. Identifying and using innovation to enhance outcomes for both the project and target stakeholders
  5. Recognising that the ‘old’ (pre-March 2020) way of doing things may no longer work and embracing the opportunity to learn new skills, leading the way for others.

Agile strategies designed for the COVID-19 era. To learn how your project can adapt to the rapidly shifting stakeholder engagement landscape, please contact Phillips Group’s Group Executive Directors Sarah McCreesh (Infrastructure and Major Projects), Helen Hutchings (Government), or Stephanie Paul, Managing Director.