Developing further, replicating or institutionalizing
Once a Stakeholder Dialogue has reached the agreed-upon results, the question remains whether an initiative should stop there, or if it should be further developed. Many Stakeholder Dialogues terminate successfully after Phase 3. If the desired goal has been achieved, success should be adequately celebrated: participation and contributions of individual stakeholder groups should be acknowledged and appreciated.
Nevertheless some Stakeholder Dialogues may want to consolidate their outcomes into sustainable structures. This can mean taking the endeavor to the next level, replicating it at another location, integrating a new issue or further institutionalizing the dialogue on a more formal level.
If taking the initiative or project to the next level seems to be a worthy option, Phase 4 needs to concentrate on building appropriate structures without losing sight of the crucial role of people and process. It is about creating the next-level Container by inviting and integrating new participants. Previously uninvolved actors must quickly understand the urgency and importance of an initiative and be able to emotionally connect with the larger goal. This often requires building new structures and developing a governance system that represents the stakeholder groups. Sometimes, it can make sense to set up an institution with the appropriate management structure. Keep in mind that transparency, stakeholder representation, dialogue, ownership, consensus-building and outcome orientation – also have to be reflected in the institutionalization. The major challenge in Phase 4 is keeping the spirit of change alive.
The process from the more loosely structured initiative to an institution is not necessarily an easy process. Replication or institutionalization often requires a professional management structure. Roles change and decision-making structures have to become more efficient. Existing management structures require additional legitimacy and credibility. Therefore, it is recommended that the original core group remains actively involved in Phase 4 of a Stakeholder Dialogue, progressively handing over their function to new actors and transferring the process step by step into its future structure.
Expected results of Phase 4
Depending on the form and purpose of the Stakeholder Dialogue and area of implementation:
- Extending the goal and stakeholder participation
- Institutionalizing a successful dialogue form
- Using the experience gathered in dialogue in another process
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