Becoming a Consultation “Whizz-Kid”? – Joking aside, now is the time to recognise the skills and expertise of consultation specialists
New technology has its ‘internet geeks’; private enterprise calls the young turks with MBAs and suchlike ‘high-flyers’; Chief Executive’s departments have their fair share of ‘policy wonks’; but what do we call those who have acquired the skills of organising and acting on public and stakeholder consultations?
The absence of a label reflects the speed with which consultation has risen up the agenda. A few years ago, it would be perfectly normal for service providers or policy officers to undertake the odd survey or run the occasional focus group. These were subsidiary skills – useful if you have them, but inessential in most environments. The way in which consultations were done mattered relatively little, and such choice as existed boiled down to a simple equation: use the techniques you know … or bring in consultants to use the ones you don’t.