Archives for Engaging stakeholders authentically

Creating a sense of collective impact

Can a group of people tune into a spirit of collective impact? In my experience, yes! It can even happen among a group of not only diverse stakeholders, but those with controversial interests. In May 2003, 35 stakeholders—coffee producers, European coffee roasting industry players, and representatives of development organisations and major international NGOs—gathered in London for a meeting. On the agenda was a proposal to develop a baseline standard for sustainable green coffee production that would improve ecological and social practices and could lift coffee production to a more sustainable level by creating the first mainstream standards. The extremely ambitious
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The Quality of Communication

People engage when they see the bigger picture and understand how they can contribute to positive change. In this context, clearly defined goals and a well-designed process create a successful Stakeholder Dialogue. This does not necessarily mean that the goal is understood or agreed upon between all invited actors. Mostly the goal remains vague. Developing an agreed-upon goal and pushing the Stakeholder Dialogue towards outcomes requires a solid process architecture. It is an enormous asset for the success of a project if the core group (the small group of initiating Stakeholder Dialogue facilitators) becomes more than an official committee or
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Staying in the collaborative field

The meeting room is much too small for almost 45 people. It is hot, the tiled floor does not help much, and the ordinary plastic chairs are not particularly comfortable. Little wind is coming through the open door that leads to the street. The occasional car driving past worsens the acoustics in the room. Down the hill is the sea, the vast Atlantic Ocean of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, the invitation to a swim is ignored. Despite the almost unbearable heat, the group concentrates on a written document that is projected onto the wall. Step by step we work
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Collaborating for innovation

Whoever is responsible for supply chain management, particularly when sourcing from South East Asia, knows that no progress to responsible business practice can be made without engagement of different stakeholders and collaboration with actors we may have avoided before. More and more companies work closely with NGOs to improve living conditions of workers way upstream the supply chain. But what if one solution found creates new problems? If you ever had the opportunity to visit a factory in South East Asia (where your brand jeans are produced) or a rose farm in Kenya (where your fair trade certified Valentines roses
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How does co-creation happen?

Can you remember an encounter with people that made you think – we are creating future here?  What are the ingredients of such a creative space? The future is constantly emerging as a result of the ‘space in between’, a room of encounter between us and other people, a space released or blocked by communication. The more dialogic this space is allowed to be, the more likely that it leads to a state of sustainable co-creation.
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How do we recognise groups of committed citizens for sustainability?

Collaboration for sustainability requires well functioning groups of people who lead collectively – be they called management teams, project teams, core groups, committees, partnership teams, task forces, working groups or a leaders network. They exist within one or across several organisations. They are composed as cross-sector groups – with representatives from civil society, public sector and private sector. People in such groups have differences in power, experience, education and culture. They have language barriers, as not everybody is able to communicate in his or her native language. This is all part of our sustainability endeavour. Luckily we are diverse and
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The future requires us to learn faster

The future resilience of global, societal and local systems requires better and faster adaptivity, hence not necessarily better steering, but more effective collective learning mechanisms. With climate change, resource scarcity, social imbalances and the crisis of financial systems we are realizing that our future depends on action that is based on dialogue and cooperation between different stakeholders. It might be difficult to overcome mistrust, but there is no other route: stakeholder cooperation is the future. Our capacity to facilitate collective learning at all levels of human society thus becomes the most crucial factor for a sustainable future. A company like
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Why do we need collective leadership?

I do believe, we could move forward more effectively on sustainability through collective leadership. But it’s an entirely new discipline and will need to be learned: by public sector, civil society and above all by the corporate world. Sustainability issues need collaboration across sectors and institutions. Last year I met Greg Koch, head of global water stewardship from Coca Cola, who shared his insights in the guardian sustainable business hub: “I joined the company as a seasoned engineer but have had to develop skills of partnership development, community engagement, media relations, water policy negotiations, even some philosophy, and certainly have
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The magic of inclusion

Supporting a new strategy development is nothing special. But how to make sure its adequately inclusive? And what would adequately mean? I have been asked to help a company’s senior leadership to re-define a strategy. The first workshop with the leadership team went well, we made headway, but I felt an urge that I could not resist. Sometimes you know that a team in its composition won’t be willing or capable to drive a needed change. You know you need to bring in other voices, a different energy, a spark of change that will ignite the complacent team. It is
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How to create joint commitment for change?

Have you aver experienced that people who work together successfully, across institutions, sectors, teams nations. Somehow they seem to click, they collaborate effectively and navigate a cooperation process through difficulties. They are committed to the outcome.  They feel jointly responsible. Overcoming the challenges that lie ahead of us requires building teams within our organization or across several institutions. We need to integrate different organizational cultures into joint initiatives and foster collaboration between actors that are often not even used to communicating with each other.
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