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Newsletter, March 2007

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Project news

NDA Convenor

Dialogue by Design is working in partnership with 3KQ as the new Convenor for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) Stakeholder Engagement Process.

The NDA was set up in April 2005 with the mission of cleaning up the UK’s civil nuclear legacy. Engaging openly and transparently with stakeholders is critical to the success of achieving this.

This is an exciting project for us as it has a great deal of significance for local and national stakeholders across the UK. Our aim is to ensure that the process meets as many peoples’ needs as possible.

There is already an existing programme of Stakeholder Engagement in place and one of our initial tasks is to undertake a review of how the NDA engages. This has been requested by stakeholders with specific calls for:

  • an introduction of more varied methods of consultation
  • better use of the opportunities that electronic technologies provide
  • involving a larger number and wider range of people
  • ensuring clarity of aims and outputs for each workstream
  • the NDA to better demonstrate how input from stakeholders has influenced its decision-making.

The results of this review will be presented at the next National Stakeholder Group meeting on 5 & 6 July.

Preparations for this year's Metropolitan Police Consultation on Policing Priorities

Despite various changes in detail, for four years we have applied the same fundamental sequence in our annual consultations for the Metropolitan Police: first, we let the public have their say about policing priorities; secondly, provide senior staff with the results of the public consultation and ask them to comment on how these issues are being addressed. This structure had a number of benefits. For the Met, they provide an opportunity to hear what citizens think without prompts and to understand why issues are important in some detail. For the public, the consultations allow them to express concerns, but also to learn about what others think and how the Met deals with crucial issues of policing.

This year, while the plans are still evolving, a new dimension will be added to the consultation: a major strand of the consultation will be discussions held by Safer Neighbourhood Panels to debate policing priorities and actions the Met are taking and how they communicate to communities. We are preparing 'discussion packs' - a tool which has proved useful to stimulate and structure group discussions on topics such as 'Managing radioactive waste in the UK' or 'Waste management priorities in Kent'. While using these discussion packs for our annual Met consultation is a new component, we will build on the results of the previous years’ consultations, by extracting those issues that have been of most concern over the past four years as a starting point for the discussions.

Engaging with members on a global scale - A Roadmap for 21st Century Chemical Engineering

Imagine a membership organisation of professionals with members distributed all over the world. Imagine these professionals' work is at the core of a wide range of industry sectors. And then, imagine this organisation aims to develop position statements in order to contribute to the public debate on today's world's global problems, position statements which broadly represent the membership.

Using Dialogue by Design's document review template, the Institution of Chemical Engineers embarked on such a process from September 2006 to February 2007, covering areas such as sustainable chemical technology, health, safety & environment, energy, food & drink, water, and biosystems engineering. Members from 54 countries registered to take part in the consultation, and more than 550 participants submitted their views during the two rounds of consultation. The first round presented draft position statements and asked for comments. The second round presented the results back, together with the revised position statements and action plans that build on them. The 'Technical Roadmap', which is made up of these position statements and action plans, will be formally launched at the Jubilee Assembly in London in May 2007.

This project demonstrates a number of strengths of our online consultation system. Firstly, it allows us to involve participants from all over the world, saving on time and travel costs (and carbon emissions!). Secondly, it allows us to structure a complex subject by dividing it into chapters and sections, allowing participants to select those areas in which they are most interested and/or specialised. Thirdly, while collating a flood of more than 10,000 comments is still a big task to do, our structured analysis tools put us in a position to come to grips with such a quantity as quickly as possible.

The participants, all engineers, seemed to enjoy the online consultation process; here is some of the feedback they gave us:

‘A very valuable process, easy to follow and contribute.’

‘Despite the complexity of the subject matter, an excellent approach to obtaining input in a short period of time. Great idea!’

‘It was great to see the comments from other respondents. It really helped to see that the vision is held broadly and not just with a limited few in a committee. I think this method of consultation has been the most open and interactive that I have seen.’

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