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Need for Building Relationships 11 Shifting to a Public Service-Oriented Approach During recent decades, there has been a shift toward greater public involvement and an increasing expectation on the part of the public that they have a right to be heard and treated as partners in the decision-making process. Because the public is so well-informed and involved in many areas, organizations and institutions that the public perceives as being public assets are finding that developing a customer service/public service attitude is critical to the success of their mission. A university example, detailed in the University of Missouri at Kansas City Case Study (14) presented in Chapter 5 of this Guidebook, describes how a university's development plans were threatened because of their assumption of total autonomy. They believed they had no need to do more than inform the public. After facing a very angry and well-organized public, the univer- sity decided that involvement and good two-way communication was the key to increased com- munity approval and support. The project incurred months of delays as the university fought to overcome its own mistakes made early in the public review process by establishing better com- munity relations. Other institutions such as state departments of transportation and the EPA are moving in a similar direction. What does having a public service attitude mean? A customer or public service attitude means that every individual in the organization must relate to the public as if every member of the pub- lic were contributing to their paycheck, because directly or indirectly they do. Many airports inter- viewed confirmed the need for a customer service attitude. Engagement creates opportunities to deliver improved recommendations. It establishes a more consistent framework for both airport staff and policy makers to make more informed decisions about important issues. It fosters enthusiasm and excitement about best planning practices, and involves the public in important policy considerations. Engagement advances the airport staff's credibility and contributes to an atmosphere of trust. The public feels more like they are part of the solution, rather than pawns being manipulated through a jaded set of procedures. As airport planners and managers engage a community, their capacities for brainstorming and knowledge are extended, and they grow as public servants.