Cultivate Relations

Stakeholder involvement is usually not a one-time event. Building relationships and trust should start long before a workshop takes place. The first point of contact sets the tone for future cooperation. In multi-stakeholder meetings – such as conferences with selected internal customers of a service unit, negotiations with union representatives or large group meetings with citizens – the same principles for success apply: It starts with mutual appreciation for and acknowledgement of others’ perspectives. The focus should be on a common understanding of the problem, mutual learning and understanding each other’s goals. Co-creation by using different ways of thinking leads to a new, common perspective on the problem instead of simply exchanging all the old and well-known arguments in order to win.

We often use the model of interest-based negotiations to create transparency of interests and avoid the classic rituals of bargaining and deal-making. Techniques and settings for real dialog allow everybody to truly listen to each other and create common solutions, instead of arguing. We also employ adequate decision-making methods, like consensus-based decision-making. This method proves to be highly efficient, because it is often easier for all people in a group to reach agreement instead of letting them vote for their favorite and having the majority get their way. There are several formats for stakeholder involvement: In a customer conference (link zur Beschreibung), service units can develop a better understanding of their internal or external customers’ real needs; a multi-stakeholder workshop can be conducted to develop comprehensive public programs and deliberate on controversial projects, such as those involving large infrastructure.

A New Level for Further Cooperation

A well-designed stakeholder involvement process leads to clear and mutually accepted agreements and creates a basis of trust and common understanding for further cooperation.