Lessons from the Bushfires
Communication is a critical success factor in project and programme management. To communicate successfully, you must analyse your stakeholders correctly.
Australia has suffered horrendous fires in the past few months. The authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people from their houses.
That required a lot of organisation and a lot of communication.
The public authorities struggled to communicate effectively. How to give the right advice to people? How to get them to listen? How to ensure householders react correctly?
For the authorities, there were two types of householders – those who will evacuate; and those who won’t.
But that was too simple.
Analyse your Stakeholders
An Australian researcher, Dr Ken Stahan, has come up with 7 types of householder
- Threat Denier: they deny that a threat exists
- Responsibility Denier: they do not believe that they are responsible for themselves
- Dependent Evacuator: they are unable to take responsibility for their safe evacuation
- Considered Evacuator: they are determined to safely evacuate
- Community Guided: they look to advice and guidance from their community
- Worried Waverers: they want to remain. They worry that they lack the experience to remain successfully
- Experienced Independents: they are experienced with bushfires and are self-reliant and well prepared. They are committed to remaining but in unfavourable circumstances may evacuate.
(You can listen to Ken Stahan talking about his 7 types on Australian RN radio here)
Once you know there are seven types of stakeholder, you can communicate so much better.
For each category, there can be a tailored communication – the channel, the timings, the content.
The next step in Australia is to get this working. Ken Stahan’s idea is to use questionnaires, to better understand householders. To categorise stakeholders correctly.
That’s the key: understand your stakeholders before you communicate.