Progressive Engagement Communications for Large-Scale Infrastructure Improvements Projects

By Joshua Joseph, CH2M HILL Senior Technologist

Mr. Joseph will present the poster, “A Calling to Defense – A Mandate to Defend Progressive Engagement as the Implementation Paradigm for Cross-Boundary, Multi-constituent Success for Communications on a Billion Dollar Infrastructure Improvements Program” on Monday, April 8 from 5:00-6:00pm at the AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference held April 7-10 in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about CH2M HILL’s participation in the 2013 AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference. 

The successful implementation of a billion-dollar infrastructure improvement project does not occur by accident. Success happens when one prepares, learns from every experience, and connects the multitude of little dots while maintaining focus on the big picture. For CH2M HILL’s Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Program for the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, we identified the following as critical success factors:

-          Develop a rehabilitation based program strategy

-          Adhere to Consent Decree deadline and interim milestones

-          Meet and exceed shareholder expectations

-          Minimize disruption to the public

-          Maintain cost-effectiveness

-          Cultivate a genuine partnership between the Program Manager and City-Parish

-          Foster a strong, responsive public awareness

-          Execute Immediate Action Projects early

Attempting to balance project results and deadlines with shareholder expectations, minimal disturbances, and full public accountability generates one of the greatest challenges in any major infrastructure improvement project. To address these challenges, the CH2M HILL corporate communications team developed a progressive engagement model to effectively communicate with the governing officials, project managers, construction managers, contractors, and community members affiliated with the project. The main approach involved:

-         Building cooperative networks among clients, customers, and affected stakeholders

-         Soliciting direction and feedback from clients to develop more effective implementation strategies

-         Sensitivity to disturbances and inconveniences for the community

-         Accountability to customers and clients

-         Fostering an environment of conflict resolution and customer service

Each meeting or community engagement activity focused on yielding strategies to anticipate and plan for disturbances (pre-construction phase), adjust to construction inconveniences in real-time (construction phase), and ensure that neighborhoods, communities, and construction affected zones were restored.

Cultivating an environment of personal and professional investment in resolving customer complaints and issues is crucial for implementing an effective of progressive engagement approach and can make a resounding difference in the overall success of large-scale infrastructure projects. During the SSO Program this model generated unprecedented success and respect from across the Baton Rouge City-Parish community. I look forward to sharing more details of the program and its successes at the Sustainable Water Management Conference, or email me if you are interested in learning more.

Dr. Joshua Joseph is a Senior Technologist for the Water Business Group in CH2M HILL’s Baton Rouge office.  He has over 20 years of experience from academic, research, and professional endeavors that bridge science, engineering, economics, and public policy within and across the broad expanse of environmental and technology arenas, and water resources.  His expertise spans groundwater and hydrology, contaminant fate and transport, groundwater remediation, modeling, statistics, environmental resource economics, and policy analytics.

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