The deadline for letters to Santa has passed. I’m not joking – Royal Mail declared that all letters to Pere Noel must be sent by 6th December to earn a response from the festive fellow.
In my frustration at realising that I’d missed the sleigh, I thought of something that would make Christmas lists a much easier task for busy people – St Nick should go out and get the information for himself. He’s got a consultation team of ready and willing reindeer and elves up there at the North Pole, who could be happily armed with clipboards, briefed on their task and sent out across the world to learn everyone’s Christmas wishes.
My advice to Old Man Christmas is something that we’ve really honed our skills at here at Local Dialogue, and can be summed up in one word: Outreach. Rather than waiting for feedback (or Christmas lists) to be handed to you, go and find out what people think.
In the same way that I would be much happier with Kris Kringle if he didn’t expect me to go to the trouble of writing and posting him my Christmas list, consultees are much happier with us if we work with them at their convenience.
This means offering more than a cut and dry one-day consultation – it means more than even offering additional meetings or pieces of coal to those who don’t participate. Why not engage in some door-to-door market research, taking a team out into the community and really getting to know your neighbours, finding out what Tiny Tim really wants? If you can characterise those around you, you’ll be far more likely to understand what they need and want.
And you never know, they might not be asking for as much as you had planned on giving them.
So, Babbo Natale, I’m afraid this is the closest you’ll get to a letter from me this year – a snippet of advice on knowing your stakeholders. And on a side note, if there’s space in your sleigh for a pony, I would be more than happy to give it a home.