“Engagement” can mean many things. As used in this publication it means
“to work together so as to move forward,” just as two gears engage in a
mechanical process to move production forward.
Why engage? When governments and citizens work well together, better
and more sustainable decisions get made. Yet many managers fear public
engagement, being all too aware of the times that the gears do not mesh
smoothly, conflict flares, and elected officials and citizens become frustrated
The fact is, successful public engagement doesn’t “just happen.” As
with any process or project, preparation and planning make for a better result.
And like other processes, effective public engagement requires a system—one
that takes into account the people, values, information, and issues involved;
careful choice of the structure for interaction; and planned maintenance or
follow up. That system needs to be integrated in a coherent way with the other
systems used for decisions within the community. You, the public, and your
elected officials all need to understand how “the engagement system” is
intended to work.
The ten questions in this e-book are designed to help you use your
existing planning and project management skills to more effectively plan and
manage a public engagement process.