Engagement: upping the ante

With TERN now maturing from its planning and construction phase into an exciting phase of implementation and delivery, it’s timely to ask our major target audiences – ecosystem scientists and science users – how we’re doing and how we could improve.

About one-third of people registered for the 2012 scientific symposiums were ecosystem scientists or science users from stakeholder agencies of some kind (approximately 60 of 180), and 30 of those filled out feedback forms.

Many of the comments revealed a perceived lack of focus on stakeholder engagement or delivery, and confusion about whether TERN was even aiming to deliver for stakeholders in management agencies. Although these comments were made in the context of the 2012 symposium, they probably reflect these respondents’ experience with TERN overall.  Asked to quantify their current level of benefit from participation in TERN on a scale of 0–5 (where 5 is ‘very high’), the ecosystem scientists and science users gave us an average score of just 3.5. This is perhaps understandable given that, until recently, TERN has been focused on designing and building its infrastructure. This period of hard work is about to be rewarded, as TERN becomes increasingly capable of delivering what our stakeholders need.

That’s why TERN Central will be making a more concrete investment in knowledge brokering and communications over the next couple of years. TERN has already recruited a full-time knowledge broker and is in the process of recruiting some dedicated communications staff. This team, which will be introduced in the next issue of the newsletter, will work with facility staff and end-users of all kinds to improve engagement and delivery across the entire network – for everyone’s benefit.

Even though the 2012 TERN symposium was the most successful and best-attended yet, with feedback surveys indicating the vast majority of delegates improved their knowledge about the network and its facilities, we’re aiming for better scores on next year’s feedback forms.

Published in TERN e-Newsletter April 2012

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