Complicated problems consist of several parts that need to be incorporated into a planning process. Expert knowledge is usually sufficient to determine optimal advance planning and to inform decisions. But, as experts may not have access to all information, a consultation process may be valuable to check that information is complete. Such a consultation, preceded by adequate information to those affected by the problem, will not only lead to better decisions but also reduce the risk of stakeholders feeling excluded from the process.


Risks are limited. Decision-makers do, however, need to be aware that the following could lead to an increase in both tension and complexity:

  • if the information used by the experts proves to be incorrect or inadequate
  • if stakeholders feel excluded or ignored due to the fact that they have not been informed about decisions that will have an impact on them
  • if questions arise and cannot be answered
  • if concerns are not taken seriously (even if they are regarded as baseless or trivial)
  • if participants’ views and questions during a consultation are not taken to heart
  • if something unexpected happens to change the circumstances or stir up emotions amongst the stakeholders
  • if negotiations are not based on a relational approach


This problem offers the opportunity to build trust and create relationships. Consultation can contribute to increased inclusion and participation. All of the above are positive qualities that may be useful when more complex or controversial issues arise.


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