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Stakeholder engagement: Balancing what you hear with what you do

October 11, 2016
The Globe and Mail

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management.

We live in a time when providing an opinion has never been easier. With a few clicks of the keyboard or swipes on our smartphones, we can now comment on anything and share it with anyone across the globe. It is the perfect scenario: public engagement from the comfort of one’s couch.

Given the hyper-ability of businesses to elicit feedback electronically, it would seem logical to discard our old and cumbersome methods of face-to-face engagement. Yet, live stakeholder engagement continues to be essential to business survival and can be found in every sector. From open houses and town halls to surveys and focus groups, consumers are told their opinions matter, particularly in the arena of city-building. Municipalities and land developers are continually revising their engagement processes to allow for increased feedback into project design, both electronically and in person.

Many Canadian cities actively integrate stakeholder engagement into their planning processes. Growing Conversations in Toronto and Engage in Calgary are initiatives that provide residents with an explanation of the engagement process and employ multiple tools to capture their feedback on a variety of urban projects. The City of Vancouver utilized its online consultation platform, Talk Vancouver, to garner more than 37,000 responses to an online survey in 2015.

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Jyoti Gondek, the Director of the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies

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