What a couple of weeks! The NHS is certainly making the headlines. As someone who cares a lot about good communications and engagement this has left me thinking: ‘What’s going on? What can we learn from this hullabaloo?’
Well, from all the news items I have seen recently and others that have entered my subconsciousness, here’s some unrefined thoughts.
- Don’t confuse engagement with traditional communications.
- Don’t get caught in a cycle of constant rebuttal, take time to listen and learn.
- Be prepared to be wrong, or at least not 100% right . For example, consultation is about making better decisions so if it flushes out some weaknesses in your proposals be prepared to fix them.
- Allow time to fix problems unearthed by consultation and engagement.
- You can’t use pre-consultation engagement as an excuse to rubber stamp your consultation proposals.
- Politics will interfere in your consultation so you must always play fair.
- Other people won’t necessarily play fair so you will need to protect your consultation.
- Spinning preferred options in the name of consultation is risky business.
- Social media is democratising information distribution and heightening public scrutiny of policy dialogues. The truth will out.
- Misleading anecdotes can easily spawn across social networks so the truth is hard to find. The truth needs protecting.
Comments and observations welcome, as always.