Urban Alternatives

Consent Building

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CONSENT BUILDING: OUR PROVEN STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS

We do not offer our clients a "magic bullet" that guarantees diverse often disagreeing interests will reach consensus about a project. To our knowledge, there is no such "quick fix" available. Instead, we do help our clients design, plan and implement a strategically-sound, orderly process directed toward achieving agreement with their toughest opponents. The public involvement strategy which guides all our consulting efforts — "consent building" — has helped our clients avoid the usual fatal mistakes and achieve an exemplary record in getting technically complex, often-controversial projects implemented. Make no mistake; consent building is an unorthodox and sometimes counterintuitive strategy which may defy your basic instincts about how to deal with the public.

To learn about the basic "nuts and bolts" of consent building and how using this strategy can help keep projects from being stopped, browse through the brief "primer" that follows.


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Project implementation has more to do with how you deal with opposition than how successful you are at building support.


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Even though it is relatively easy for a small minority to veto a project, it’s also true that you don’t need overwhelming agreement from the public to implement your project.


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Understanding the concept of "Consent" is the key to achieving "Effective Agreement" about your project with critical stakeholders. "Consent," a tricky concept, is a frequently overlooked form of agreement.


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Using this two-pronged public involvement approach will ensure that you avoid the trap of concentrating your efforts on rallying your supporters as the way to overcome veto power.


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The Agreement Scale is a convenient visual summary to help you understand the consent building strategy and how it works. To achieve "Effective Agreement" about a project, your public involvement program must concentrate its effort on moving those interests located at the bottom of the Agreement Scale (i.e., vetoers) up the scale to "Consent" or higher.


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To achieve consent with your toughest opponents you must get them to understand at least these five points. Getting opponents to do so is necessary but not sufficient for transforming vetoers to consenters.


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