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25 August 2015 at 04:18 PM by John Rankin - copy and paste contents
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D: John

It seems to me that one of the strategic parameters your light rail group
has yet to consider is how the group wishes to position its contribution to
the debate. There are essentially two options, which I would describe as an
advocacy approach or a consultancy approach. In reality there is no clear
line between the two, but there is likely to be a significant difference in
the way the group's contribution is viewed by other stakeholders, depending
on which face you present in the debate.

!!!ADVOCACY APPROACH (solutions focused)
The advocacy approach positions your group as a partisan lobby group within
the debate, with a predetermined agenda which you lobby for to the best of
your ability. From that point of view, you are one voice among the many,
with as much chance of having something useful to contribute as anyone
else. It is a process of 'selling' your preferred solution to the other

It implies that the process you are engaging in is essentially combative
and competitive, and that you have no particular interest hearing other
points of view.

This approach would have a stated objective such as "Wellington builds the
light rail system we describe, in the place we say, in the way we say."

!!!CONSULTANCY APPROACH (outcomes focused)
The consultancy approach positions your group as an objective commentator,
providing a reasoned process for critiquing and assessing the partisan
contributions of the various solutions and processes presented by their
respective advocates. From that point of view you position yourselves above
or to one side of the solutions-based advocacy, taking on the role of a
professional advisory panel rather than a group of partisan enthusiasts.

It implies that the process you are engaging in is essentially one of
consensus-building, creating a shared understanding of the various costs
and benefits to different stakeholder (customer /client) groups, and
seeking an outcome that meets certain agreed criteria, rather than seeking
to 'sell' a predetermined solution.

This approach would have a stated objective such as "Wellington builds a
rapid transit system that maximises usage, minimises travel time and meets
the agreed environmental and financial constraints."

There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The advocacy approach is
easier to adopt, in that it requires less time and effort in considering
alternative options, and it allows group members to give reign to their
enthusiasm for their preferred solution. However, by positioning yourselves
as 'one of the crowd' the trade off is that your contribution to the debate
will be perceived by others as being on an equal footing with everyone
else's. You position yourselves as enthusiastic amateurs, regardless of any
professional expertise your group may possess.

The consultancy approach is likely to be more demanding and time consuming,
but it has the advantage of keeping the professional expertise of the group
to the fore, thereby maximising your credibility as a voice worth listening
to. It would involve demonstrating the quality of objective, informed and
genuinely consultative professional analysis that you consider to have been
missing from other contributions such as the Spine Study. This cannot be
achieved by repeating in your approach the errors that you consider other
analysts or commentators to have made.

For what it's worth, I believe that your group has the capability to
contribute to raising the standard of analysis and public debate on this
issue, which no other interested party seems to have.  I would very much
like to see you take the high road as it were, and lead by example by
taking a professional consultancy approach.

There is no shortage of people with an opinion. What there is a shortage
of, so far as I can see, is a reason to believe any of them has an informed
and objective viewpoint and the commitment to Wellington's wider
constituency to ensure that the debate is framed as it should be, and in a
way that genuinely informs  Wellingtonians about the options that exist and
the relative merits of the arguments being made (or not being made) about

X: Arohanui,\\
Page last modified 25 August 2015 at 04:18 PM