Engagement and Buy-In Checklist for Big Projects and Complex Decisions (DMTF Weekly Lesson #4)
- Are mechanisms in place to confirm and regularly reconfirm congregational buy-in to both the decision-making process and to the possible or probable outcomes of the decision-making process?
- Is there focused, facilitated, widespread brainstorming about the issue before committing to go ahead or start down a particular path, with all options discussed? Does that include the history of past explorations and projects?
- Is there an “engagement leader” or team who will track and coordinate communication to/from members and who may recruit volunteers?
- Has a survey been considered to see how aware members are about the process and if their expectations align with the plan?
- Are there opportunities periodically during the decision-making process for small group/committee discussions as well as whole-congregation forums? Does this include ample time and patience to hear from as many as possible, and to reach as much convergence as possible on next steps? Are those concerned about or
opposed to the project strongly encouraged to attend such sessions?
- Are there sufficient opportunities for congregants to get information and to ask questions about the decision and the decision-making process?
- If the project/decision involves building or altering a physical structure, are there models to view the proposed location and appearance?
- Are there multiple well-advertised ways for congregants to provide input (e.g., by emails and bulletins, posters, web-postings, announcements in Sunday services)?
- Are the decision-making leaders and groups seeking out all voices (including those historically underrepresented*, dissenters, and others with unstated points of view) right from the beginning of the decision-making process? (*Underrepresented members include IBPOC, youth, and others traditionally not heard from: people with language issues, less education, immigrants who have been taught never to contradict people especially their leaders, and people who are not able to get to forums or access online meetings.)
- Is there a clear mechanism for registering dissent?
- Is dissent explored early in big processes?
- Has every effort been made to let the dissenters know they have been heard and that there is a will to include their concerns in making the decision (even if their concerns may not be fully resolved)?
- If the dissent surfaces later in the process, is it clear whether this represents concerns about new information and information not previously addressed or represents ongoing resistance from the start (the latter not being amenable to a shift in willingness unless the whole project is changed)?
- If there are big or frequently expressed concerns, will a facilitated process be considered to hear and respond to these?
- When not many members are engaged or when some groups are underrepresented, is there a mechanism to gauge the degree of and determine the cause of apparent nonengagement and possible nonagreement?
- Is there an inventory of members’ skills and expertise to support or possibly replace outside experts for some or all aspects of the project?
- Do the members agree that the process leaders may proceed even with some residual disagreement, provided all efforts have been expended to understand and resolve these disagreements?
- Do those with concerns or who dissent agree to abide by the stated processes for feedback, and also agree to follow the Covenant of Healthy Relations?
- Are congregants informed about and encouraged to take responsibility to engage in the decision-making process by:
- attending meetings
- asking questions
- keeping track of project-related communications and events
- discussing with others
- encouraging others to engage
- assuming leaders are acting in good faith?