Involving stakeholders in your planning is essential. In fact, the process of planning is equally or more important than the plan itself. Working with your stakeholders intentionally, enables you to glean your community’s priorities, pain points and questions which may have evolved during the course of the pandemic. And when done well, it can ensure an authentic representation of multiple viewpoints, provide inputs that help to prioritize diversity of thought and perspective, and lay the foundation for stakeholder investment in the work. Your first encounters with stakeholders are critical as they will set the precedent for how they will engage throughout the planning and implementation.
We recommend the following steps:
Step 1: Articulate Your Why
Clearly define the information you need from your stakeholders and the reason you need it. What will you do with the information you gather? Clarity on this before you get started will ensure you are using time and resources efficiently and will encourage participation from your stakeholders.
Step 2: Identify Your Stakeholders
Consider who will be impacted by the change you are considering: students, teachers, families, alumni, community members, staff, campus leaders, and district leaders are typical stakeholder groups, but, depending on your initiative, you may have different or more stakeholders. Be sure to consider those who you may not see or hear from often, and include them in the process.
Step 3: Plot Your Stakeholders on an Engagement Matrix
Utilizing a matrix to place your stakeholders according to interest and influence will help you determine the best approach to involve each group.
Step 4: Explore Tactics Aligned with Your Needs
Reviewing options for the different ways you can engage different groups will ensure that the time you spend developing your tools and conducting your research will have the most impact. The variety of methods for engaging stakeholders can include: focus groups, surveys, town halls, in depth interviews, empathy interviews, shadowing, and community walks. For more ideas and a breakdown of these methods read our Equitable Inclusion Guide.