So you already know that you need to engage a diversity of stakeholders in contributing their opinions, knowledge, ideas, and analysis. In the past you have done this through a survey, a focus group, a round-table discussion, or in the form of a meeting, right?
What if you could get a richer level of engagement, better quantity and quality of input, while giving participants an enjoyable and interactive experience?
If this sparks your curiosity, you are ready to step up your approach to getting input or feedback and consider the “collaborative consultation” instead.
A collaborative consultation is a smart and creative way of gathering input from any number of people. It’s an interactive event that can take place online or in-person. Depending on the desired outcome, a collaborative consultation can take the form of a one-hour event or a series of events over the course of a week or longer.
Collaborative consultations are very cost-effective, yet engage more people in giving rich input. The consultation is facilitated in such a way that participants feed off of each other's ideas; inspired by what others are contributing, they build on shared ideas and opinions in addition to contributing their own analysis. The result is creative ideas, deep insights and smart analysis in a short period of time, culminating in a rich and actionable report.
Here are three very special outcomes of collaborative consultations that you cannot get from surveys or traditional events:
The quality and quantity of input: In a collaborative consultation you can engage large numbers of people in creative and critical thinking. Since the thinking takes place in a collaborative fashion, everyone’s ability to think and contribute is elevated (both for introverts and extroverts alike). The consultation is designed in such a way that we focus everyone’s thinking depending on the type of input that you most need (whether it’s feedback, ideas, information, or analysis).
The quick turn-around and cost savings: The use of technology allows us to produce an information-rich report within 24 hours of the collaborative consultation. If you choose to run the consultation as an online event you will also save on travel costs, catering, venue costs, etc. And unlike an online survey, you do not need to keep it open for an extended period of time while you send constant reminders for participants to complete the survey.
The participants’ level of enjoyment and commitment to the outcomes: A collaborative consultation is fun, social and fosters psychological safety. This means that participants will feel their time is being put to good use. They will enjoy the experience, contribute honest input, and even make unexpected connections, thus contributing to the outcomes in ways that they never would have thought of in an online survey.
A bonus outcome is that you can get “join-in” instead of “buy-in.” What we mean by this is that you can engage stakeholders in a series of consultations in order to invite their input early on in a project, as opposed to struggling to secure buy-in too late in a process. More about “join-in” versus “buy-in” in my next blog post.