Saturday, 19 October 2013

HS2 and risk of the cloak of invisibility

With all the questions raised so far about the business case for HS2, common sense would have said come clean as soon as possible. Those managing stakeholder engagement at HS2 just don't seem to recognise the need for clarity of the business case and effective stakeholder engagement.

The political and managerial leadership of HS2 may 'believe in' HS2 but they need to have clarity of the key messages and they need more integrity in communications.

Last night's Newsnight was yet another example of chaotic stakeholder engagement. Newsnight had clearly identified 'what hadn't been said' in the published KPMG report and had resorted to a Freedom of Information request for some answers. The FoI response provided a fuller story of the winners and losers. Then the HS2 CX fruitlessly tried to justify why Newsnight needed to resort to a FoI request.

Everyone knows there will be winners and losers with HS2, as with most business cases. The trouble comes when the emphasis is to 'accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative'. Stakeholders are rarely that gullible. Those who have most objections to change will always look for what is hidden and use that in their argument. I've been discussing these flaws in the HS2 approach for so long I'm sure some universities must now be using HS2 as an example of poor communications and stakeholder management. As this continues trust and confidence will be continue to be eroded and there's a risk that even those who will be winners will also start to become suspicious and cynical.

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