We all know in some format what a multi stakeholder process looks like; without going into the theory of it, in essence the end goal of this process is it promote better decision making by ensuring that the views of the main actors concerned about a particular decision are heard and integrated at all stages through dialogue and consensus building. This is the UN perspective on it and admittedly one that I am partial towards.
That said, having wrangled together a few multi stakeholder processes, here are a few tools that I have used and found beneficial-
- Draft out a vision board
- Map out your goal – know who the actors are, where they come from and what is the solution you are collectively trying to achieve? This is your basic reference point and you should leverage it as a reference point of check and balance.
- Provide the answer first
- Unless specifically requested, most actors/decision makers don’t have the time to understand the nuts and bolts of everything. When communicating, work backwards, start with the proposed solution first and then, if necessary provide a fuller context and analysis.
- Resist the urge to delve into long explanations
- You have worked hard, you know the lay of the land and you want to provide all your knowledge and information to the folks whom you are working with – resist that urge. Remember your worth and acumen is not being measured by how many pages of graphs you can produce but how succinctly you can take a complex issue and provide an easy and accessible solution for it.
- Be ready to let go of what is not important
- As you navigate an array of actors from diverse backgrounds and hierarchies -not everyone will like your method or your solution. You will be criticized, perhaps even disliked during the process – known without a doubt its not personal. Know what your non-negotiables are and be willing to let go of what is not important.
- Know the distinction between important vs.critical
- As you negotiate this process, if you remember nothing else – just remember the difference between what is important vs. what is critical. In complex negotiations there will be a volley of ‘important’ things that will be thrown at you [documents, decisions, people, emotions, process etc.] – always vet out the critical from the important.