Thursday, 12 March 2015

Communication is a 2-way thing

Over the last couple of days I've done industry workshops in Wellington and Auckland on my cost-benefit analysis of a contentious topic. A change is proposed that looks beneficial overall but would definitely disturb the status quo. And although (or perhaps because) the general topic has been unresolved for a decade there is considerable resistance to fixing it (in this way, now).

In this setting, cost benefit analysis can be more than just an analytical tool; it also helps to frame the issues and allow people an opportunity to participate at a couple of different stages. We started (months ago) discussing a list of potential costs and benefits. Once that was thrashed that down to a final list I got to work on what could be quantified and now we're discussing that part.

Listening is crucial. I don't work in this industry every day, so without careful listening I'm going to miss important details, and without wide consultation I'm going to be easily gulled by things people think are important but actually are not.

If I'd gone into these workshops thinking I knew it all, I'd have been quite rightly crucified. As it was, we had (appropriately) robust discussions but they were civil. 

This was all reinforced nicely last night in the monthly #scicommnz (i.e. science communication) twitter chat through this gem from University of Auckland physicist, Shaun Hendy.
So true.

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