A well executed strategy for involving stakeholders through the policy life cycle provides many benefits.
Engaging Throughout the Policy Life Cycle
Understanding the values, priorities and expectations of stakeholders helps decision-makers move the organization forward. To get there, you need ongoing engagement. The issues, policies and projects that organizations deal with typically have a life cycle that can take days, weeks, months and even years. So engagement is most successful if it is designed to be incorporated throughout the life cycle of the topic being considered.
What Life-Cycle Engagement Looks Like
Take, for example, the topic of solid waste management for a municipality.
1. Initiate the topic: Residents complain about the frequency of garbage trucks in the neighborhood every week.
Community Engagement Question: How satisfied are you regarding the frequency of garbage collection in your neighborhood?
2. Follow up on initial question. In this example, let’s assume that the first engagement poll indicated significant concerns.
Community Engagement Question: Which of the following options would you prefer?
a. Switch to bi-weekly collection schedule.
b. Switch to sole-source service provider and maintain weekly pickup.
c. Switch to sole-source service provider and switch to bi-weekly pickup.
d. Other. (Please describe.)
3. Narrow down the options. In this example, let’s assume that the second engagement results in discovering that the community prefers a sole-source provider with weekly pickup.
Community Engagement Question: What would be your preferred day for garbage collection?
f. No preference
4. Check in with residents after implementing a new service.
Community Engagement Question: How satisfied are you with the new garbage collection schedule?
a. Very Satisfied
c. Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied
e. Very Dissatisfied
Why Life-Cycle Engagement Through Polco Works
For municipalities as well as other organizations, involving stakeholder input throughout the policy life cycle—including assessing satisfaction after a policy decision has been made and implemented—provides many benefits:
- Stakeholders appreciate having the opportunity to participate in the deliberative process regarding something of importance in their neighborhood and community.
- In communities, residents gain a better perspective of community issues, resulting in a better understanding of the context of public service delivery.
- Regular communication improves transparency and accountability, often increasing trust and overall sense of community.
- Because Polco verifies residents’ and stakeholders’ voter registration and provides demographic data, you can make better-informed decisions, so communities benefit.