Proposed Consultation Processes
Consultation activities involve processes and these processes can be observed to vary in terms of attributes such as the following:
Activity: A consultation process can involve a single activity such as a survey, or multiple activities, either in stepped increments or as a combination of activities which run simultaneously within a larger consultation exercise.
Timeframe: The window of opportunity to respond can be ongoing or set within a defined deadline.
Information & Communication Flow: Can be one way, two way or interactive.
Communication Channel: Can be open or structured.
Participant Selection: Participants can be targeted by the consulting body or self-selecting.
The choice of process can restrict or enhance the opportunity to participate depending on the selection of participants, whether it allows structured or unstructured responses and in the case of multiple activity processes, whether the same participants are involved throughout the entire consultation exercise or different participants are involved at each stage. A set timeframe can be restricting in that it may put pressure on participants but it also encourages response and enables the process to reach a conclusion. Open timeframes allow for more relaxed and reflective participation, but unless they are monitored and collated in a structured way that facilitates feedback and evaluation of responses, they are of little value in informing decisions. Information and communication flow are vitally important in terms of restricting or enhancing the capacity for creating shared understanding, openness & transparency.