- The walkabout allows a sponsor/leader to gather the information needed to enable the actual process to take place. It also explains the larger environment in which the sponsoring organization will be operating.
- The walkabout conveys to a community that the sponsoring organization has a project it needs to undertake, but first wants to understand what matters to the community—both about the project and generally.
- The walkabout also allows the sponsoring organization to understand parallel and contemporaneous events in the community that may impact the process. This can prevent the process leaders from being blindsided by changes in participants’ behaviors or views that do not seem related to the process.
Participants in these conversations (either one-on-one or in small groups) will raise several pointed questions that are intended to discern the rationale for the project and the underlying values of the company and the project leader. The leader should be prepared to answer openly and directly questions like these:
- Why does this project have to be done? Have other alternatives been explored?
- Why does it have to be done this way, at this time, in this place?
- Who are you (the leader) as a person?
- What is the character of the company, its culture, its goals, and its history?
To get a sense of community members’ perspectives on their environment in general, and of this project specifically, questions like these can be asked:
- “What is your sense of the (particular) situation in Hawaii?”
- “How do you see the sponsoring company?”
- “What is your sense of how this area of the island is perceived and dealt with?”
- “How would you like to be worked with?”
- “How do you feel about the challenges and burdens faced by this area of the island?”
The team working on the project meets regularly to download feedback from community interactions, and to discuss other events in the community that might impact the project. The group uses the information gathered to begin to sketch out a plan for the process of engaging the community.