10 October 2012

Charrettes and Wedding Planning

A charrette is a lot like a big wedding. It can take a full year or more to plan a wonderfully successful wedding attended by hundreds of people. Some of the biggest challenges to planning a wedding of this scale are the invitation list and seating arrangements. Many traditional weddings have a number of events and parties before and after the actual wedding ceremony. Some people attended every event while others attended just the wedding itself. The fact that everyone is happy about his or her particular level of participation is a testament to a well-conceived involvement plan. Have you ever been to a wedding where someone was grumbling about not being invited to the shower or rehearsal dinner? Family feuds have been born from this issue. Much like a successful charrette, a conflict-free wedding is planned such that everyone is satisfied with their role in the events to which they were invited.

For charrettes as well, it takes very careful planning, months in advance, to pull off a charrette at which everyone is fine with his or her level of participation. NCI defines three levels of project participation. Primary stakeholders are most often the project sponsors, partners, staff, and consultants. Secondary stakeholders may be associated agencies, non-governmental organizations, and key community members. General stakeholders are all others who are affected by the project outcome.
While these categories do roughly indicate the amount of involvement, they must not become an elite hierarchy. In order to make the best use of people’s expertise and time, primary stakeholders are involved in many more meetings than the general stakeholders. The key is that everyone is involved at key points of decision, like the wedding itself. Everyone is satisfied with their level of involvement because there are enough decisions remaining for them to have an impact on the outcome.

The NCI Charrette System™ prescribes a clear process for identifying the stakeholders and the appropriate level of involvement along with an engagement strategy. Next month in Vancouver is your next opportunity to practice and learn the entire three phases and 42 tools of the NCI Charrette System™ . The NCI Charrette System™ training can help assure that your project has the right level of involvement by the people that need to be there at the right time- just like a successful wedding.