Co-creating a sustainable future


Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What are stakeholders?

Stakeholders are people or institutions that have an interest or influence in a particular course of development (e.g. project, initiative, strategy etc.); either as individual or as representatives of a group. This includes decision influencers, key players in implementation (partners), and those affected by the output directly or indirectly (e.g. civil society, associations, neighbours etc.).

Question 2: What is the difference and what are similarities between project management and the Dialogic Change Model?

The Dialogic Change Model (DCM) is a model that, similar to a staircase or a handrail, can support you to structure your stakeholder dialogue. It helps strategic thinking in planning next steps and measures to be taken. As a result of this, you can identify items for your project management (in terms of budget, time planning, other resources, monitoring and evaluations, etc). The DCM is not a replacement for a project management tool but works complimentary. 

Question 3: What if you have to have a Stakeholder Dialogue, although people actually do not want to work together?

A Stakeholder Dialogue sometimes requires small first steps. This is particularly the case if those initiating the Stakeholder Dialogue are not the direct project implementers. You should start with exploring and engaging following of the Dialogic Change Model . Step by step, get the stakeholders into a conversation with each other, formally and more importantly informally. Ensure that these conversations are meaningful to them and support them in establishing the willingness to collaborate. As a dialogue facilitator or stakeholder convener, you can help this process by e.g. preparing get-togethers, encouraging joint visioning, enabling people to get to know each other as human beings, and encouraging mutual appreciation between stakeholders as experts for the topic at stake.

Question 4: When should one engage in Stakeholder Dialogues? Why should we engage stakeholders rather than just making decisions on our own? 

Stakeholder Dialogues are advisable if you know that different interest groups affect the result of the project. Stakeholder Dialogues come into play when different stakeholders need to discuss how the actual implementation of the project can be accomplished. For instance, some countries have an excellent legal architecture in place, but compliance is very low. In that case a Stakeholder Dialogue is required with those implementing the laws in order to increase compliance. 

Question 5: What is the difference between Stakeholder Dialogues and stakeholder participation?

Stakeholder Dialogues are a method to ensure appropriate stakeholder participation through consultation in one or regular Stakeholder meetings. There are different forms of Stakeholder Dialogues: They develop from a simple consultation to a fully-fledged Stakeholder Dialogue, including joint implementation. Stakeholder Dialogues are more than just simple stakeholder participation. Read more on the different forms of Stakeholder Dialogues .

Question 6: What is the difference between stakeholder partnerships and Stakeholder Dialogues?

A stakeholder partnership is considered to be a particular form of Stakeholder Dialogues . Stakeholder partnerships usually work with consultation processes before and while the partnership is being implemented. A stakeholder partnership ensures input and feedback by important stakeholder groups that are not part of the implementation process. Understanding different forms of Stakeholder Dialogues can support the selection of the most suitable form for a given change process.

Question 7: Why dialogue? Why a dialogic approach?

Stakeholder participation is, in essence, dialogic: to get people from different walks of life and with different perspectives into a conversation that will lead to a practical outcome. Dialogue allows one to integrate different perspectives, standpoints, and interests into planning and implementation processes. Stakeholder Dialogues lead to a practical outcome that could not have been achieved without dialogue and with better results during implementation. Learn more about the benefits of Stakeholder Dialogues in our textbook  and more about the dialogic approach here .

Question 8: Do you have some tips for relationship management among stakeholders?

To keep the relations between stakeholders sound, make sure you know the history and who the stakeholders are. Be transparent in the process, make it clear that you hear all the voices and be consistent and accountable in your actions. Check your status on Stakeholder Dialogue success factors by applying our Success Factors .

Question 9: Why is ownership so important in Stakeholder Dialogues and how can I help create it?

People implement what they have helped to create. That is why projects with high ownership among stakeholders have higher success rates. To create ownership, find out why the issue of your project is relevant to each stakeholder. Building on this knowledge you can engage them with what matters most to them – action is more likely that way. Then make sure you really involve them in the process (the opposite of invite & ignore). Authentic participation is the best ground for ownership in a process. Learn more about ownership in the dedicated section of our textbook .

Question 10: How to communicate with stakeholders?

Attending to the quality of communication is a crucial factor for success in Stakeholder Dialogues. This includes communication among participating stakeholders (internal) as well as with outside actors (external). Transparency is a fundamental value and regular and authentic communication is indispensable for building trust.
Learn more about communication and transparency in our textbook

Question 11: How do I know which actors and how many to involve in the Stakeholder Dialogue?

Any engagement process should be based on a previous stakeholder analysis that assesses stakeholder interests and influence on the desired change process. Invest time in getting the stakeholders on board who are particularly influential in terms of supporting or possibly hindering the desired change process. Jointly identify with your core group how to gain their interest and support. We call this: Building a container for change. A good container represents the larger system of stakeholders who are prepared to drive and support the process. 

Question 12: What if there seems to be no common interest? 

In this case, a change of perspective may be needed. Sometimes people only gather around a problem, i.e. if people are not able to pronounce the common interest, perhaps they are able to identify what the problem is that they need to find a solution for. Sometimes this is the least common ground. The next step is the careful preparation of the dialogue and a good facilitation that helps the stakeholders find that common interest and develop a common goal out of this “problem assessment”. Once this common ground is established and people understand it, they work towards that same vision. Later, breaking it down to more concrete objectives becomes easier. In the following process the facilitators should carefully attend to the 4 phases of the Dialogic Change Model . Have a look at "Clarify Goals and Resonance"  in our textbook.

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