Community and Stakeholder Engagement

The RETHINK GROUP has always placed a great deal of emphasis and importance on informing and engaging stakeholders, community leaders, user groups and residents throughout needs assessments and planning process, integrating a variety of effective and techniques - custom-designed to suit each assignment.

We have extensive experience in the design, implementation and analysis of successful community and stakeholder engagement programs involving a wide range of techniques.  For over forty years, the principals of the Firm have been designing and refining techniques to measure public opinion and the rationale behind it - to meaningfully involve stakeholders and the wider community in research and evaluation, as well as making choices.

Through hundreds of sessions, we have demonstrated outstanding skill and innovation in working with diverse groups and communities to understand their perspectives and issues, and to guide them toward a shared vision of the future.  The Firm has provided input into many types of projects from community/regional planning and strategic planning, to parks and recreation, and police services. We have worked with elected officials and senior staff in municipalities, government and non-profit agencies; architects; planners; engineers; policy makers; service providers; facility managers; and volunteer boards of directors. 

We can design an engagement program that ensures that you hear from those you need to reach, and guarantees that all involved know they've been effectively heard.  Our 'hands-on' techniques are designed to be interactive and include everyone equally in the discussions. The consultation program and techniques are designed to:
  • raise awareness and provide information,
  • identify and prioritize needs and issues,
  • evaluate options and evolving recommendations,
  • build consensus, and
  • present and solicit opinion about evolving plans and recommendations.
Via our 'hands-on' techniques, we create an atmosphere that reduces confrontation, encourages collaboration, and provides the opportunity for 'win-win' solutions.  Some of our innovative techniques include

Search Conferences, Community Forums, Reference Groups, Community Response Panels and Visioning Circles.  Trade marks of our Search Conferences and Community Forums are the interactive round-table discussion groups and our dynamic feedback sessions.  We also employ our 'Post-it Note and Dotmocracy' technique that effectively engages everyone in an exciting process of generating, theming and prioritizing hundreds of ideas on topics that inform the task at hand.

We have designed over one hundred surveys to research needs, issues and opinion from individuals, households and interest/stakeholder groups.  Sometimes, we utilize a survey to gather background/context information to help inform a focus group session, larger community-wide engagement technique or a strategic planning session.

Recruitment Technique Ensures Balanced Representation

Another key to success are our innovative methods of recruiting participants for our Visioning Sessions, Community Forums and Search Conferences to broaden the base of participants and strive for good representation to balance the often biased and negative themes that are typical of may interactions with the community.  The goal is to reach the people and groups who must be consulted, including specific group and interests and a cross-section of the community.

Focused and Managed

The entire consultation process is always focused and managed so the output is clear and does not become a 'free-for-all'.  Vested interests are able to have their say, but the process is designed to temper their views with those from across the community, so the perspectives of a few cannot high-jack or obstruct the process.

Blend of Techniques

The blend of techniques, each with its own strengths, is one of our keys to success.  Techniques such as household and interest group surveys produce quantitative results, while for others, the value is in information-sharing and interactive and qualitative input.  Some techniques are designed for focused discussion, while others are planned to engage a broad range of perspectives.


The final ingredient of success is the ability to custom-create the entire program and fine-tune each technique in response to the unique needs and circumstances of each assignment.

Photos of the 'Post-it Note and Dotmocracy' process, as well as various forums.

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