Chronic consultation fatigue syndrome

16 Oct 2009 by Karl Hallam

Is there such a thing as consultation fatigue? If there is then it is most commonly accepted to be something that people who are consulted might suffer from ... although there are plenty of public servants who say they are tired of consulting. In 2000 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (funders of our Hoodie, goodie, buddy project) said; 'Government regeneration strategies give increasing recognition to the importance of involving local people in the renewal and management of their own neighbourhoods. But the recent plethora of initiatives from departments is causing confusion in some communities and leading to 'consultation fatigue'.

Everyone wants to hear what we have to say; companies want a few minutes of our time to tell us what we thought of the service they provided (see the survey appear here when you look at the Sheffield Star online) ... radio programmes want us to text in with our views on issues of the day. More oftenly it is talked about in reference to local communities being asked their views on local authority type activities. Should we collect the bins fortnightly? What do you think of these plans for this park?

In Sheffield there has recently been a consultation on the idea of having an elected Mayor ... or rather consultation on whether we should have a vote on having one. After those two things there would be what one might call the ultimate consultation of all an election .... which someone said to us sounds like a fatigue inducing process in itself.

Our view is that we all get tired of bad consultation. Bad because it's done unimaginatively, or with the wrong people or crucially because it's being done to tick box and will not influence the actions of those consulting.

Finally, we refer you to the 2007 Cabinet Office Cabinet Consultation on Effective Consultation, the link to this surprisingly enough does not link you to a 'Yes Minister' archive.

Feel free to give us your views on this post ...

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