THE EDITOR: Within recent times cries from trade unions and aspirants to public office have been increasingly rising. This is a laudable trend. However, while consultation can be good and strategic, it depends on the commitment, sincerity, and knowledge of the relevant organisation and stakeholders.
On one hand, its success or outcomes can be related to the communication skills and research strategies used by those initiating the consultation. On the other hand, the interest, knowledge and consciousness of the consulted may dull the significance of the consultation.
My concern over consultation is grounded in the rationale for its use. First, it should never be ad hoc but an ongoing imperative used especially by governments. Further, it should be used specifically for proposed developments, projects, and ventures, while ongoing consultations are reserved to track and monitor stakeholder perceptions within the organisation’s external environment.
As I see things, ongoing consultation should be used to:
1. Identify and track stakeholder needs and expectations.
2. Identify and track stakeholder perceptions and attitudes.
3. Provide feedback on specific planned developments.
4. Evaluate implementations, actions, and outcomes.
The problem with consultation in TT is that we seem to use it more as it relates to consolidating public relations gains or having its proposed policies or implementation strategies rubber-stamped. Unfortunately, we love to host one-day sessions in which participants are never afforded adequate time for expressing themselves.
I hope to see more judicious use of the consultation process which involves one or all of the following: the submission of proposals, surveys, focus groups, individual, and public meetings. Clearly then, the consultation process will not be a quick-fix solution since much time and co-ordination will be required to assure its success.
RAYMOND S HACKETT, Curepe