Initiators of Stakeholder Dialogues often assume that other stakeholders must be interested in the same issue, and are, by default, willing to engage. However, this is probably the exception. The context of most change initiatives involving Stakeholder Dialogues is much more complex: there can be contradicting agendas of stakeholders, conflicting interests or actors who are overwhelmed by other commitments. Stakeholders engage when they resonate with the content and goal of a Stakeholder Dialogue. In informal bilateral conversations, the initiators can help to clarify the different possibilities for change and test for resonance with the relevant actors. This way, the common goal becomes clearer and is further developed with the help of stakeholder feedback.
The most important task at the beginning is...
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In Stakeholder Dialogues one often deals with people that one does not know very well, maybe even feels resentments against. Therefore it is important to create an atmosphere of trust and humanity between the different stakeholders. This little ritual adds a personal note to every meeting – and it not only boosts the quality but also the efficiency of your process.