Multi-stakeholder collaborations are tasked with challenges, problems or opportunities that individual groups or organizations cannot achieve alone. While each participant may espouse the need for a common decision or shared direction, an internal scorecard is often used to calculate the costs or benefits to one's individual circumstance. By their nature, multi-stakeholder collaborations are shaped by a rich and dynamic world of hidden forces, elements of which may include:
- Multiple (and sometimes changing) interests
- Diverse levels of knowledge and experience
- Inter-stakeholder history
- Unexpressed assumptions and expectations
- Gender or cultural differences
- Different communication styles, skills and levels-of-comfort
- Unequal access to information (silos)
- Established decision making roles and practices
In these circumstances, we use a dialogue-based approach that builds a climate of inquiry, respect and creativity. We have found that with these conditions established transforming things take place.
"The challenge of every organization is not build a feeling of oneness, of dependence on on another... because the question is usually not how well each person works, but how well they work together."
— Vince Lombardi