Project Management

Hot Boston: Part 2

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Richard Maltzman
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In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the Boston Heat Plan, and marveled a bit at its thorough planning section.  In Part 2, I take you on a quick tour of the Stakeholder Engagement section.  Notable even in name, this section doesn’t discuss stakeholder management because (as PMI has recognized) we don’t manage stakeholders, we need to do a great job of identifying them and engaging (communicating, listening, partnering, understanding) them.

Clearly one of the most obvious stakeholders are the people of Boston.  Which type of people and communities are impacted by heat?  From the City of Boston website:

Who heat impacts:

Extreme heat affects us all but does not affect us all equally. More impacted groups include:

  • low-income communities
  • communities of color
  • indigenous and tribal communities
  • infants, children, and older adults 
  • those who do not have access to cool spaces in the summer
  • individuals with chronic illnesses and conditions that worsen with heat exposure, and
  • residents in areas with less green space.

The planners did an outstanding and creative job (in my opinion) in coming up with ways to elicit input from the residents of various communities of Boston.  Note: some of the text below comes directly from the report.

Participants in the process shared perspectives from their lived experience in Boston with heat and access to cooling. Community feedback directly shaped the heat resilience strategies included in this plan.

The City’s approach to community engagement included a range of ways for residents to engage including the following methods:

Considering that this was done during the peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, virtual meetings were used to engage discussion and collaborative strategy development.  The planners used innovative techniques for the meetings themselves, including live sketching sessions where people could draw their ideas collaboratively onto a cityscape and build off others’ ideas – in real time.

Below are some images from the report showing the creativity they used – a “comic builder” to make avatars, virtual self-reflection, the sketching tool mentioned above, and a “gathering screen” (the blog post header image above) taking advantage of those avatars.

Meetings (virtual, due to the Pandemic) included two open houses, five neighborhood ideas sessions, and a forum specifically designed for youth. These sessions were recorded and made available on the project website to provide more opportunities for ongoing feedback in response to the same questions discussed in the live event.

In addition to the meetings, the planners also used citywide surveys, neighborhood idea sessions, and a special youth-led survey.

Although not many details were provided, the planners also identified other stakeholders with whom they would engage.  They include:

  • Civic organizations
  • Data privacy experts
  • Workforce safety organizations
  • Unions
  • Worker centers
  • City and state regulators
  • Expert focus groups
  • Industry groups

…and more.  As I preach to my project management students, “broad and deep” is the way to identify stakeholders.  Broad – meaning all categories of stakeholders, and deep – meaning all of the possible stakeholders in that category.

In Parts 3 and 4, I’ll shift to discussing the roadmap they established and their plan for benefits realization of the heat plan project.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: May 28, 2022 12:08 AM | Permalink

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Thank you for the reminder to ensure we include all stakeholders and rightholders in our projects.

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