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Avoiding the Blame Game – There are good, and less good, reasons for going to consultation

In the dozens of Consultation Strategies received by the Institute there are countless lists of reasons for undertaking consultation exercises. On average there are six to ten objectives, often liberally sprinkled with the latest fashionable buzz-words.

Yet one of the most persistent reasons why people undertake consultations is seldom ever mentioned. It is literally taboo!

This is the organisation of a consultation exercise as a mechanism for spreading responsibility for difficult decisions. “Yes, we know it’s unpopular, but we did go to consultation over it”. That type of thing. A less charitable label would be cover-your-backside consultation.

In one sense, this is perfectly defensible. Decisions can be controversial, and it is right to point out to those who subsequently criticise, that they may have had an opportunity to express their views at an earlier stage. Consultees can and do have a habit of conveniently forgetting that they were asked their opinions!

 

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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

Read more about Rhion

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