What’s trending? With IAP2A Director – Jo Wilkins

State f the practice hands in banner

It’s another year and it’s February already. There are always a lot of thoughts at this time of year about the months ahead, what’s important and where our practice is heading. Jumping on that band-wagon, I’ve jotted down my musings on engagement top trends for 2020:

Single-use consultation

This was the title of a session at our recent IAP2 Australasian Conference, unfortunately I couldn’t attend the session, but the title resonated. We don’t do enough to share insights and help prevent consultation fatigue. For new projects, our poor communities are often asked the same (or very similar) questions as the previous project. It’s no wonder the community is fed up and apathetic.  In the world of big data, we need to be harvesting, sharing and using this valuable information wisely.

Ah, the disrupters

We’ve seen the rise recently of self-organising communities, disrupters and all types of people getting involved in activism, with it often escalating into community outrage. I think this year it’s going to be important for us all to play our role in preventing some of these extremes and help organisations, elected representatives and wider communities to understand what good processes look like and what they can achieve.

Making places

The nature of the work I’m getting involved in has the potential to use place-making initiatives as a way of engaging with communities and gathering feedback on proposals. Some projects with a place focus are trialling, testing and re-working ideas in the places they are trying to change, while capturing the valuable thoughts of the local community. This is work I want to be doing…

Hearing those quieter voices

One for every year and every engagement we undertake – it’s important to help those who could be affected by the projects we’re representing to have a voice. So often we hear from the masses, but they aren’t the quality input we need to make a real difference. Using our knowledge, skills and relationships to access hard to reach communities is essential to the engagement process.

Close that loop

Another one that’s always on my list…organisations are getting so much better at going back to communities, letting them know how their input was considered and what the final outcome or decision has been…long may that continue.

Making it fun

Sometimes I’m guilty of running a perfectly functional, fit for purpose engagement event or activity…but what’s wrong with making it a little more fun. Something I’m going to aim for more of this year: if you’re giving up your time to provide input, I’ll try to make it interesting and fun! Linked to this…I will be striving for innovative engagement practices without being gimmicky!


Finally, I’ll end on a matter that’s crucial to all of us – our wellbeing. For engagement practitioners this can be considered from several different points of view. Looking after the communities we are working in; taking care of our teams; and having strong personal resilience is a hugely important health and safety matter. Wellbeing is the theme for IAP2’s NZ symposium, happening in May 2020 in Auckland. Hope to see you there…