Too often, I meet with people who see stakeholder engagement as a more sophisticated way of selling their messages to potential critics. That's not the game I'm in!
Don't bother asking people what they think if you're not willing to change your plans as a result.
This article explains why you need to act in good faith when you're listening to your stakeholders.
Update: November 2010
- transmit - "straight comms" - one way, putting out a message about something which has already been decided or already happened.
- collaborate - work together to co-create an understanding of the situation, problem, possible solutions, implementation plans and so on.
- receive - "extractive research" of the kind perfected by social researchers, market researchers etc.
There is absolutely a role for all three, and many processes or even single events will include ways of doing all three.
But if you want buy-in, and want those implementing the outcomes to want to do so, collaboration is the way. And more fun, IMHO.
Facilitator and blogger Myriam Laberge has explored this a bit too.