Multistakeholder Partnerships and Facilitation
“Bringing together diverse stakeholders with different interests, who are able to converge their ideas and perspectives towards a common vision for sustainable development, does not just happen by itself, it needs proper facilitation.”
To understand the role of facilitation in multistakeholder partnerships, trainees participating in the Advanced Masters in International Development (AMID) program in Kenya were taken through a Facilitation of Multistakeholder Partnerships (MSP) lecture during the face to face session of Module 3 (Cooperating for Change). The lecturer began the session by stating that she is not a lecturer but a facilitator, and uses techniques for active teaching and learning such as asking questions, feedback and active listening. She then asked two AMID trainees to volunteer for an orange example role play, where they both want an orange but only one orange is at their disposal. The trainees negotiated for the orange, each stating the reasons why they needed a whole orange but they did not come to a win-win conclusion until the facilitator came in. The compromising situation would be to split the orange in half, so each would receive an equal share. The collaborative method would be to dig a bit deeper to find out what their underlying interests are.
“One trainee could only want the orange peel for baking and the other just wanted to eat the orange flesh. So a collaborative solution would be to give the orange peel to one trainee and the flesh to the other, this way they are both satisfied and have a win-win.”
From the orange example, of course not all situations in multistakeholder negotiations are simple. People mostly have diverging points of view, often losing track of the central themes of discussion and get attached to individual ideas. Innovative facilitators, works towards an arrangement that all parties are satisfied during the negotiation and enables multistakeholders to come to more satisfying and creative agreements. Facilitators use guides such as the Diamond of Participatory Decision Making (Figure 1), developed by Sam Kaner with Lenny Lind, Catherine Toldi, Sarah Fisk and Duane Berger. This model guides the multistakeholders thinking process from divergent into narrowing their differences and aim the discussion toward a closure.
Power Interest Matrix
Balancing power and interest against objectives of development projects is a critical component of successful multistakeholder partnerships. Categorizing the stakeholders depending on their power and interest in the project is another exercise that needs proper facilitation. Power interest matrix makes this process easier; it maps the power and influence that stakeholders have on a project. External facilitators can keep the analysis objective because they are outside the internal politics of the organization. Stakeholders are plotted in a power/interest grid and one can determine stakeholders with high or low power to affect the project, and with high or low interest.
To better manage individual organizational interests, facilitators should ensure that partners with more power and interest are closely observed to ensure that they do not overshadow the others. Those with more power and least interest should be satisfied to ensure that they remain interested in the project. Those with least power and more interest must be well and constantly appraised on the progress in the partnerships.