Public Involvement Techniques

Foreward  |   Table of Contents
Chapter 1  |   Chapter 2  |   Chapter 3  |   Chapter 4  |   Index of Techniques

3. Getting Feedback from Participants skip page navigation

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3.B - Designing Programs to Bring Out Community Viewpoints and Resolve Differences
3.B.a - Focus Groups
3.B.b - Public Opinion Surveys
3.B.c - Facilitation
3.B.d - Negotiation and Mediation

3. Introduction

3.B - Designing Programs to Bring Out Community Viewpoints and Resolve Differences

Standard meeting formats are not always successful in bringing out a full range of community viewpoints or resolving differences of opinion. Sometimes participants need other ways to make their views known and to build consensus. The use of special techniques, some of which are costly and must be conducted by professional consultants, may be warranted in such situations.

Agencies can use very specific means to obtain feedback from participants and weigh them along with other people’s positions. New techniques such as customer-based analysis help agencies determine the community’s needs and what might satisfy those needs. Reliability of results, in terms of substance and statistical validity, depends on the method used.

When people make their views known but are unable to reach consensus on the issues, alternative dispute resolution techniques can help resolve the conflicts. Whether disagreements are settled without outside assistance (for example, by negotiation) or require a third party to mediate depends upon the complexity of the issues, the extent of the stalemate, and the skills and spirit with which all parties enter into the resolution process.

Ways to get direct feedback and resolve differences include:

  • Focus groups;
  • Public opinion surveys;
  • Facilitation; and
  • Negotiation and mediation.

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