Ascertainment Study Philosophy

SB&A’s ascertainment study process is predicated on the premise that issues and opinions about the issues are real, tangible and have identifiable origins. Further, issues and opinions are usually formed, shaped and perpetuated by “key” individuals (players). The direction they take is generally a reflection of the resolve of the key individuals who seek to form and influence them.

The ascertainment process identifies key players and opinions that drive or influence specific issues and establishes a strategy for involving the players in achieving consensus and stable, negotiated or mutual-interest agreements that will endure.

Ascertainment findings reveal opportunities for selecting and working with key leaders who have the greatest potential for contributing to a successful outcome while managing and/or resolving issues with those who pose obstacles to success. If key players who shape issues and organizational or public opinion are engaged effectively, they will, in turn, bring along their constituencies in support of project approval. This approach to issues management and the shaping of organizational and public opinion, when planned and implemented in a skilled manner, yields results that are highly reliable and predictable.

Finally, the ascertainment process is based upon the understanding that no two situations are alike, that unverified assumptions play a major role in the misunderstanding and mismanagement of issues and that a key element of successful issue resolution and negotiations is access to a broad base of reliable information about the players, their interests, and changes or adjustments that may contribute to consensus agreements. It is the information generated from the ascertainment study that protects against precipitous actions based on inaccurate assumptions, permits creative problem solving, identification of win/win solutions and positions the client for optimum control over what seemingly are unstable, unpredictable environments and uncontrollable circumstances.