One reason consumers cite as to why they don't stay engaged in standards development is that the number of consumer representatives on committees is typically extremely small and they feel they have difficulty influencing outcomes. ASDs should make good faith efforts to nurture relationships with consumers and sustain increased participation. A few suggestions:
To help consumers stay connected, ASDs can create dedicated social media groups, direct messaging platforms, and cloud-based file sharing. Additionally, establishing mentoring programs or a consumer relations committee to connect new consumer consensus body members to more experienced members can encourage new consumer participants to learn more about the ASD’s process and gain insight into that process and its unique landscape.
KEEP IN MIND: AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT IS TO SUPPORT AND CREATE OPPORTUNITIES TO COME TOGETHER AND SHARE INFORMATION, IN-PERSON OR VIRTUALLY.
ASDs can consider documenting minority opinions in an informative document that is available to current and future participants in a standards activity. By enabling consumers and all stakeholders to review the history of opinions submitted during a standard's development and approval, a documentation strategy like this could provide encouragement to the voters in the minority and help sustain their engagement.
ASDs should ensure their staff is educated on the impact consumers can have in a standards development activity. This can help staff take a holistic and meaningful approach when conducting outreach to consumers to foster and support their increased engagement. In addition, it's equally important to train consensus body leadership and chairs and to encourage representation of different interests in leadership roles at various levels in the standards development process.