Ben Johnson, KJA - First class community engagement for a better project


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Ben Johnson, Associate, KJA delivered the presentation at the 2014 Major Road Projects Conference.

The Major Road Projects Conference brings together government officials with those responsible for the planning, financing and construction of Australia’s critical road infrastructure to discuss future plans. It offers a practical assessment of the strategy necessary to ensure Australia’s current and future major roads projects are successful.

For more information about the event, please visit:

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Ben Johnson, KJA - First class community engagement for a better project

  1. 1. Beyond Roads: building better communities for the future Ben Johnson 1
  2. 2. 2
  3. 3. What does trust mean and what will it deliver? Positioning around project outcomes Other strategies – breaking the nexus of the noisy voices Recommendations for the industry Presentation includes 3
  4. 4. Wheel of engagement Source: (Australian Government: Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005) 4
  5. 5. The problem A major arterial road is severely congested The desired outcome A less congested road A better functioning community The project and community engagement question What is the most sustainable way to reduce congestion and lessen the impact for our motorists? A simple example 5
  6. 6. What outcomes should we expect from first class community engagement Outcomes Trust (internal and external) Smaller expectations gaps Project outcomes achieved Brand positioning enhancement Improved positioning on CSR and sustainability Characteristics Empathy Leadership Strategy Dialogue Share responsibility Considered promise Risks which are proactively managed 6
  7. 7. “Means that projects will operate in accordance with specific standards with guaranteed reliable outcomes that are of consistently high standard in terms of what customers’ value”….Kenny 2006:330) Delivering first class community engagement for a better project 7
  8. 8. Positioning around project outcomes 8
  9. 9. Consistent understanding of definitions of community engagement Research and assess community groups interests, values and their preferred method for participating and being engaged Identification of risks, issues and benefits for engagement early in the planning or initial stage of projects Provide multiple methods and opportunities for participation Strengthening project perception weaknesses 9
  10. 10. Policy Measuring the investment in communities Clearly scoped engagement process Transparency Integrated decision-making Inclusive Informative, timely and accurate information Deliberation Build relationship and trust Feedback – customer satisfaction Innovative community engagement technology and techniques First class community consultation and engagement principles 10
  11. 11. Critical review Policy Measure Trust • Tone • Aspirations • Objectives • Consultation • PEST • Reporting tools • Strategic partnerships • GRIs and LBGs • Standards • People • Opportunities • Inputs connected to outputs 11
  12. 12. Breaking the nexus of noisy voices 12
  13. 13. Understand how community and stakeholder engagement is interconnected with other communication initiatives at a broad level Agree behaviour expectations Agree corporate position on tools eg. Social media Set expectations of project staff around identifying community risk Provides tools that help to manage risk Integrate project planning with community and communication responsibilities, lead times for approvals, hold points etc. Aligning the community relations strategy with overall project objectives 13
  14. 14. Phases of community engagement 1 • Participatory Planning 2 • Mobilisation 3 • Site Establishment 4 • Construction 5 • Operational 6 • Operational sustainability 7 • Evaluation/lessons Learnt 8 • Handover 14
  15. 15. Critical review Phase Description Participatory Planning Initial community engagement provides the project and community a baseline of methods, channels and approaches are proposed, gathers feedback and allows the community to let us know how when they wish to participate. E.g Meetings with Councils Mobilisation Communication activities detailed including feedback from the planning phase. It also includes the sequence of communication activities, who is responsible and when. E.g Community Involvement Plan Evaluation /Lessons Learnt Occurs within one month of practical completion that includes a gap analysis within the communication and community engagement activities 15
  16. 16. Recommendations 16
  17. 17. No perceived benefit for the public Internal processes and controls Community groups set the agenda Sensational media coverage Misinformation playing on emotions Difficulty in providing accurate and timely information Fragmented messages from road planners and regulators Learning from previous experience 17
  18. 18. Digital Engagement and Participation A community and engagement technique that encourages children, young people and people with limited literacy levels and disabilities to participate. Emerging community engagement practices 18
  19. 19. Return on Investment / measuring the investment in communities A quality reporting tool to measure and report the investment in communities by businesses and government is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the London Benchmarking Group (LBG). It includes measuring variables from community benefit through to business benefits. Emerging community engagement practices 19
  20. 20. CSR vs. CSV Source: (Porter and Kramer, 2011: 16) Corporate Social Responsibility Creating Shared Value - Value: doing good - Citizenship, philanthropy, sustainability - Discretionary or in response to external pressure - Separate from profit maximisation - Agenda is determined by external reporting and personal preferences - Impact limited by corporate footprint and CSR budget - Value: economic and societal benefits relative to cost - Joint company and community value creation - Integral to competing - Integral to profit maximisation - Agenda is company specific and internally generated - Realigns the entire company budget 20
  21. 21. Sustainability, Ecology and Communities For community engagement, organisations and governments start to talk about sustainable outcomes and objectives. One of the key elements of a learning for community sustainability is visioning a sustainable future in what they want to achieve. Emerging community engagement practices 21
  22. 22. 22
  23. 23. Social media - who is using it SP Ausnet Brunswick Terminal Upgrade Royal Botanic Gardens Master Plan UNSW South East Light Rail Asset Link Barangaroo Blue Mountains bushfires SHFA Circular Quay Emerging community engagement practices 23
  24. 24. Pros: Providing multiple methods and opportunities for stakeholders and communities elevates the level of participation Cons: New and emerging technology comes with learning new techniques and skills and their associated risks Using emerging community engagement practices 24
  25. 25. Getting the basics right – up front Undertake an analysis of stakeholders and community directly or indirectly involved with the project Plan key project and community messaging before approaching stakeholders Set up project key performance indicators, measures and systems Determine what community engagement tools, technologies and techniques are aligned to the target audience Build in community engagement activities into project programs Recommendations 25
  26. 26. Thank you Ben Johnson 02 9955 5040 26
  27. 27. 27 Additional references Catalyst. 2012. Full Disclosure: How Companies Invest in Communities. ( Department of Transport. 2011. Community Engagement Manual. Dot: NSW. Ife, Jim. 1995. Community Development: Creating community alternatives – vision, analysis and practice. Longman: Frenchs Forest. Kenny, Susan. 2006. Developing Communities For the Future. 3rd ed. Cengage Learning: South Melbourne. Ledwith, Margaret. 2011. Community Development. 2nd ed. The Policy Press: University of Bristol. Porter, Michael., Mark Kramer. 2011. Creating Shared value: Harvard Business Review, 89(1): 4- 17. Queensland Transport. 1997. Policy, Standards and Guidelines: Public Consultation. QLD Government: QLD. Simon, William. 2005. The Community Economic Development Movement. Duke Printing Press: USA. Sydney Morning Herald. 2012. Council uses phone apps to give power to the people (accessed 29 November 2012 at Twyfords. 2010. Improving Community Engagement. ACT. Victorian Local Government. 2001. Community Consultation: Resource Guide. (