Dienstag, 25. Mai 2010

Democratic Politics as Problem Solving

I took part in a webinar last night about a new report by DDC's Matt Leighninger, "Creating Spaces For Change: Working towards a 'story of now' in civic engagement" @ the W.K. Kellog Foundation, a report summarizing the ways in which community organizing and deliberative democracy are converging, the remaining differences, and overarching priorities shared by both strands of active civic engagement.

We discussed the idea that we have of "politics", a favourite topic of mine. It seems to me that if you think of politics as pragmatic (pragmatistic in my book) problem resolution, in the sense of working together on collective problems, that is a wholly different story than thinking of politics as making collectively binding decisions (a distinction made by Raban Daniel Fuhrmann).

Often, the latter interpretation is dominant, leading to a conception of deliberative or cooperative contributions which are made in the forecourt of actual decision makers. I'd like to think there are no property rights to public problems, and everyone with our without a stake in it can start working on the problem with others if they so want. Which would require a massive investment in procedural competence and capacity, by which I mean the know-how (competence) of organizing transformative dialogues (more than deliberation), and the opportunity structures (capacity) that lower the cost of organizing such dialogues.

I really like what Xavier de Souza Briggs says in "Democracy as Problem Solving": “Democracy is a recipe for structuring the participation of stakeholders in solving problems that confront them collectively in a way that (1) makes significant decisions as accessible and inclusive as possible and (2) avoids patterns of domination, subject to the aim of (3) producing outcomes that are recognized as promoting legitimate interests and values” (Xavier de Souza Briggs 2008: 312).

De Souza Briggs is on a train of thought which originated with John Dewey, that great philosopher of democracy. I think if he is read, and reconscructed, in a procedural perspective, that's the most productive approach to understand organized dialogues - see my post on Procedural Politics: The Example of Organized Dialogue.

Donnerstag, 16. April 2009

Procedural Politics: The Example Of Organized Dialogue

I haven't posted any blog entry for a long time because I worked on the final few pages of my dissertation on "Procedural Politics: The Example Of Organized Dialogue", a piece of work that integrates seven years of my thinking and action learning as a facilitator, engaging people for change as an organizer of dialogues. Here is, until further explication, an outline of my argument.

The Fundamental Question: How To Proceed
"How to proceed?" This fundamental question of any political practitioner is the central question for my argument. It is the opening question to any attempt to shape change processes through action, and it stands at the core of any re-organization or reform of the political world from government to governance.

The Fundamental Answer: The Example Of Facilitators Of Participative Procedures
The How-Question is also a question which is answered every single day by facilitators of participative procedures. These facilitators proceed on two levels: on an individual level as actors proceeding with their own action amongst other actors, and on a collective level in shaping the interaction procedures between other actors, the participants. In their work, they creatively interweave their individual action process with that of the collective interaction process.

Therefore, facilitators are the central figures of my argument, and participative procedures are the prime example to discuss the re-formation of political procedures. I reconstruct what I call the "procedural competence" of facilitators, that is, their (creative) ability to act as leaders of successful collective transformation processes (which is what I define politics to be at its base). Basically, procedural competence integrates strategic, methodological, and operative competence. For practical reasons, I focus on strategy and methodology. In a nutshell, a method is a goals-means-operation, while a strategy is a purpose-goals-means-context-calculation.

To understand the implications of this distinction, it's important to not accept context at the face value of a (complex) situation, but to understand context as (dynamic) process. I really honor the good intentions of situationists, because they're paying attention to inner dispositions and context of a specific actor and action. But what situationists see as elements of a given situation, proceduralists see as factors of a process. Situationists fail to understand that any situation is itself situated in time, and subject to change.

The Purpose Of My Argument
The overarching purpose of my argument is to systematically ground relevant practical answers to the fundamental political question of How to proceed. I translate the task into three complementary goals:
  1. demonstrate the scope of the problem: show why and how procedure is a central political challenge, with references to the status of participative procedures and its relation to the How-Question in two discourses: the discourse on civil society, and the discourse on governance for sustainable development. In other words: demonstrate (Participative) Procedure(s) As Political Challenge.
  2. reflect your problem resolution procedure: show how (political) science can produce (what kind of) knowledge that is actually relevant to the (procedural) competence of (professional) actors, an epistemological argument with references to practical philosophy, pragmatism as creative action theory, schema theory, and theories of professionalism and competence. In other words: reflect and answer The Procedural Challenge To The Social Sciences.
  3. propose an agenda of problem resolution: re-construct pragmatistically central mental schemes and scripts of facilitators of participative procedures, such as "Organized Dialogue" as a basic model of any participative procedure; complexity and dynamics; situation, process and procedure; procedure as method; procedure as strategy; and, as an overarching mental model: "Procedural Politics". In other words: establish Procedural Politics.
(Participative) Procedure(s) As Political Challenge
(more to come)

The Procedural Challenge To The Social Sciences
To answer the How-Question is, of course, not a five-rules, or ten-steps-to-success affair. In fact, it requires the social sciences to fundamentally change the way they produce knowledge. Knowledge, or even know-how or knowing-how, is simply not the same as competence. Science and research is primarily concerned with the production of knowledge, while social practitioners don't really need scientific knowledge - the need to be able to shape change successfully. And many times, theoretical knowledge is simply not a relevant factor for this, and not because practitioners disdain, or have no time for science, but because science produces a kind of knowledge that is inherently useless for big parts of social or political practice.

That is because the social and political world are a world full of specifics, and detail and particular circumstance do matter to a great extent. Science, for the most part, is concerned with getting rid of particular circumstances to get a grip on what always is behind, on that which can be proven to be true in any average situation. And that's good to know, not only for scientists, but also for actors - but it's not sufficient for successful action.

It's the same kind of problem that any discipline and corresponding profession are facing. What professors know about medicine is not equivalent to what doctors actually do, and what other professors know about law is not wholly what wins the case for lawyers. Now, this problem maginifies when the subject of knowledge, or competence, are procedures. Procedures are, by definition, dynamic creatures winding their way through complex and unknown territory. Timing, instruments, context, and the intent of such procedures are highly contingent, and whoever leads, guides, or shapes such procedures needs to undergo a self-reflective learning process in regard to all of the relevant factors. The analysis of averages and its generalization in theoretical models is a nice way to produce knowlege about procedures, but not competence in procedures. So it's no wonder that so far, what the social sciences have said about deliberative or participative procedures has seldomly had any practical relevance for practitioners.

Leaders or guides of social processes can not plan interactions the way plant managers can design a production line. While the latter can make decisions based on knowledge of certainties, the former has got to deal successfully with the uncertainty of dynamic interactions in regard to complex fields of action. That requires attention to specifics, the ability to read and decipher processes in temporal shapes (temp-shapes), an understanding of relevant factors and their interplay, an interest in the dynamics of change, self-reflectice capacities, dealing with ambiguity and the multi-dimensional attribution of sense, and creativity.

Any science that wants to help practioners doing things better needs to re-shape its own production of knowledge, with the purpose of producing a kind of knowledge that is relevant to professional competence. That's the procedural challenge to the social sciences, and I propose a pragmatistic solution for that, namely, to focus on the production of certain mental schematas and scripts, instead of producing overarching theories. My argument here is based on pragmatistic "creative action theory", fashioned after Hans Joas, and I think it solves a very basic problem in several aspects:
  • it's buildt on the difference between knowlege and competence
  • it identifies a kind of knowledge that is relevant for competence
  • it shows how the social sciences can produce a certain type of knowledge for competence.

Procedural Politics
(more to come)

Sonntag, 1. März 2009

DiaYou: Holger Nauheimer On Change Management

DiaYou is about You, the professional facilitator! The aim is to to bring together all kinds of real life different perspectives on participative procedures.

My third interview features Holger Nauheimer, one of the leading German authorities on Change Management and Facilitation. I met Holger through Procedere, where he contributes his experience, contacts, and the very fact that he is a great source of inspiration and self-reflection to anyone in our field. I think the interview demonstrates this.

Holger Nauheimer has more than twenty years of professional experience as a consultant, trainer and coach for private business, the public sector and non-governmental organizations. An author of many publications, he is particularly known as the creator of the Change Management Toolbook, the leading web resource on the subject, and the author of the Change Management Blog. Holger Nauheimer has worked in more than 50 countries of Europe, North, Central and South America, Africa and Asia, and specializes in the facilitation of personal, team and organizational transformation. He is also the founder of the international Change Facilitation Associates Network and the CEO of Change Facilitation, A Global Partner Who Makes Change Happen in Complex Environments. Holger has become an expert on web-based social network technologies as tools for change facilitation and combines this with face-to-face interventions. I'll have to get back to him about that aspect in the future.

Holger, What I frame as "organizing a dialogue", you describe as "Change Management". What do you mean by that, and what is a practical example?
I must confess that I use the term "Change Management" reluctantly and only as a marketing term. I prefer the term "Change Facilitation" because I deeply believe that transformation of organizations cannot be managed but only facilitated. The aspects of a change process that can actually be managed (e.g., organization of communication campaigns, events, etc.) I would call project management. The complexity of many change processes calls for an approach that respects the emergent character of change. Coming back to your original question, a lot of what we do is actually creating room for dialogue in an attempt to – as Patricia Shaw has coined it – “changing conversations in organizations”. We do that by asking questions and by creating space for people to express their passion and consequently take responsibility for what they care for.
Let me give you a practical example. A large European organization called us in to “train people in Change Management”. The situation was the following: the largest department of the organization was in the process of implementing a new analytical software which would deeply change the way people work. Management felt a strong resistance to the project and they thought that a change management training would change attitudes of their staff. We went in and conducted a round of discussions with different stakeholders and we found out that at the heart of the problem was not the software but the relationship between the staff of that department with other departments of the organization. Simply speaking, people felt not valued. So, the goal of our project shifted towards uplifting the self-esteem and pride of the people in their craft.
We organized a series of workshops based on Appreciative Inquiry and World Café in which went deep down the rabbit hole. People dialogued about what it means to do a good job; they created visions of their future organization etc. All the material that was produced was processed in further workshops, leading to concrete activity plans. At the end, the software had become what it always should have been – a tool to do a better work.

What is the relevance of "process" to your work?
We are generally process oriented (if clients let us be...), i.e. we go into a new assignment suspending our assumptions. Every organization is like a blank page to us. We try to be humble listeners, respecting the experiences and also the emotions of the members of the organization. Once we have gathered enough information for a first hypothesis, we present our ideas to management and listen to their feedback. There is a lot of co-creation at this stage. Based on our hypothesis usually an intervention into the system emerges, such as the workshop approach in the mentioned example. But every process has a goal and we mustn’t loose sight of this!

What is your idea of social or political change, and (how) does it relate to your work?
Let us take a turn in this discussion because my ideas of social and political change have been significantly stirred up in the last two years, after I started to learn more about what is now called social media (i.e. the web based tools and processes often summarized as Web 2.0). What I have observed is that technological change is now much quicker than social change. Web 2.0 offers us to go to scale with change. While the classical “Large System Interventions” such as Open Space Technology, World Café etc. have a physical limit of probably 3-5000 participants (at least at a time), web facilitated change can soon reach half of the entire world population. And if we count mobile web technology in, we will soon be able to interact with the remotest village population. I have learned however, that many change facilitators have not yet fully comprehended the potential of these social media (while the next technological revolution, the semantic web is already knocking at our doors). I am using these technologies to facilitate and sustain change processes in organizations and institutions.
On a more conceptual level, as a system thinker I believe that all political and social change happens – as Bernard Mohr has coined it – “at the speed of imagination”, i.e. if we can anticipate change it is already there. I hope that the work of Otto Scharmer and his Presencing Institute will give us new tools that will help us to see the future as it emerges.
There is more to it. Social and political change has a strong spiritual connotation to me. As Robert Dilts has expressed it in an unprecedented and not repeated way more than 10 years ago, it is about “Creating a World to Which People Want to Belong”. This is exactly the reason why I do my job, and I hope that all I do contributes to Robert’s vision.

What is your definition of an unprofessional facilitator?
I have never thought about that before. What a question! I don’t think that I am the one to answer this question because I observe myself again and again facilitating unprofessionally. Thinking deeper, I remember what I learned from Max Schupbach about non-stationary roles in groups. The role of a facilitator is such a non-stationary role, i.e. it changes during a process. Different people assume the facilitator’s role, unconsciously, for a minute, or an hour, and then it shifts again. Facilitation is more a part of our life and we all have natural facilitation skills. So, you better ask me, what a professional facilitator is, that I know: a professional facilitator is present in a given situation and he uses his presence to bring out the best of individuals, groups and organizations.

What's the relevance of your work to interest and power-based Realpolitik?
Well, I am waiting for the first government to be declared ousted of power by the citizens of a country or a region who instead install their own government. And this is all done by participatory processes facilitated by web-based social networks. The first virtual coup-d’etat so to say. I don’t really believe that the current party based demography will survive the 21st century. Administrations will understand that in future, political processes have to be facilitated.

What's a question you would like to answer on my blog (and what`s the answer)? The question: What’s your short history of everything? How can we as change facilitators understand and change the world? What about us personally, as human beings in change?
The answer: Thanks for asking. Actually, I don’t know; I am still searching (and I will continue). I am happy that the assumption of modernism about the end of history hasn’t really proven right (has it?). For me, it is all about embracing the future (and at the same time conserving all what we love and enjoy). It is about being positive, even in the midst of pain. If we stop being positive, we share the responsibility for the misery of the world. Isn’t it fascinating that cultural pessimism (“früher war alles besser” – “it was all better before”) repeats itself in every generation? I believe we have more control of our lives than any generation before us. Let us trust that our own kids have the same or a higher level of maturity that we assume for ourselves.
So, that’s my philosophy for personal change: Enjoy the change, ride the waves, protect your loved ones but don’t be overprotective, do good to yourself and to the world. Enjoy traditions that survive because they make sense to people. Appreciate that some people are conservative – they take care of good things not being lost. Appreciate that other people are progressive; they bring new ideas to the world. Trust that the person working next to you (whether it is your boss or your report) wants to do a good work as much you want. Use your natural facilitation skills; help your teams to be more productive. Believe in solutions for urgent problems can only be co-created. Learn, not because somebody talks about the need for live long learning but because you enjoy to stretch your mind. Tomorrow will be different, for sure. Assume that 95% of people are good, and the other 5% cannot rule the world if you don’t let them. Be an agent of change.

For a follow-up on his thoughts here, please check out Holger's further reflections on whether we'll still talk about "Change Management" in 10 years.

Donnerstag, 26. Februar 2009

DiaHow: A List Of HOW-Books

The world is reorganizing itself because it's the sustainable thing to do so. That requires changes in HOW we realize things - with our minds, hearts, and hands. In other words, it requires changes in regard to HOW people view themselves, HOW they are relating to one another, HOW they relate to the world, and HOW people collaborate to change the world and get things done.

Just HOW is the most important question, and I'll capitalize any HOW in this blog from now on. HOW is the fundamental question of the procedural approach. But it's not only a group of German practitioners that is concerned with that question, it's a central question to a great many books and essays that I want to reference here as HOW-Books:

  • General Carl von Clauswitz, On War - not a likely first choice for a blog devoted to organized dialogue, isn't it? Well, Clausewitz gets "process", though he only uses the word itself seven times throughout the whole book, and his book is the most thorough piece of applied process thinking I know of. What do we know in the face of the dynamics of war? - Not any formal theory, therefore Clausewitz puts forth a hermeneutic process of thinking about the nature of war, and successful action therein. HOW, then, do we act in the face of the dynamic, non-linear, and unpredictable nature of the world? - Well, we act strategically.
  • Dietrich Doerner: The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations. Written by a German professor, and nevertheless highly readable, it's actually about dynamic situations that Doerner writes most about. It's a pop science bestseller in Germany, and rightly so. Doerner is a psychologist interested in how people structure their action in complex and dynamic settings, the mental models they apply, and what's wrong with them. He conducts experiments that make you chuckle at first until you realize HOW many times you've made the mistakes he uncovers. His advice: learn to act strategically. My advice: go read this book!
  • Malcom Gladwell, The Tipping Point. Also a pop science bestseller. Where Germans (Doerner) focus on the the "Logic of Failure", Americans (Gladwell) uncover the secrets of contagious processes and "HOW Little Things Can Make A Big Difference" so that yes, you can make a big difference yourself. Not a perfect book in terms of consistent theory, nevertheless highly illuminating. Like any good book, it trains your mental images to see the world, and their processes, a little differently.
  • Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, the essential book to understand HOW to organize collective and collaborative action. Alinsky is the father of Community Organizing, and it was illuminating for me to see the approaches of the Obama campaign through this book. By all means, read it to understand the power of engaging people for change!
  • Gene Sharp, From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation - a great book with a smart list of non-violent methods of action, credited with an important role in bringing down Milosevic and a whole host of sucking dictators in the Ukraine, and other post-Soviet states - kudos to Gene Sharp for the service to mankind! And we need a lot more of such collective action method books. Of course, Gene Sharp gets not only methods, but strategy as well. I love the theme of liberation, and the emancipatory power of this little pamphlet (ridicously overpriced on the US market, it seems - 62 Dollars, as opposed to not even 10 Euros in Germany).
  • David Bornstein: How to Change The World. Social Entrepreneurs And The Power Of New Ideas. Great book on great creative entrepreneurs who reorganize social processes and practices to solve social problems on a large scale. It's no coincidence that Bill Drayton, the founding father of Ashoka, the mother movement organization of all social entrepreneurs, has a particular knack for HOW-questions, as Bornstein explains. If you need inspiration that yes, we can change the world, read this book!
  • David Allen, Getting Things Done. I kid you not. Yes, it's a productivity book, and why is it so popular? Because it tells us HOW to get a grip on the operational dimension of everyday life. It's a great, great process book. David Allen knows what it means to be on the go - and be relaxed at the same time. If you engage people for change, it means organizing, organzing, organizing. You better be good and relaxed at it, getting things done so you can focus on the art of our profession: empathy, communication, direction, procedure. GTD is about "perspective" and "focus", absolute essentials to navigating a complex and dynamic world.
  • The writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson are infused with process thinking; though it's not only about the creative process which I'm concerned with, but also about the metaphysical aspects of process (which I believe in as a private man from another vantage point than Emerson), the relaxation of someone who trusts that all things are in flux is appearent and inspiring.
I'll add plenty more books to this list in the future. Any recommendations by you?

Mittwoch, 25. Februar 2009

DiaQuote: Tocqueville On Knowledge Of How To Combine

My favourite political thinker is Alexis de Tocqueville, and I just came across one of his great quotations from "Democracy in America", 1835 again. I used to have it hang on a poster in my room:

"In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others."

It's true for knowledge, and it's true for people and processes. And it's about HOW - can't get much better in my book!

BTW, it's from Book II, Chapter 5 about Public Associations in Civil Life.

I saw that Marshall Ganz, a long time organizer and Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor, is supposed to have translated this to the Obama campaign, in a perspective that mirrors my own take on people in relationships to one another who begin to relate themselves to a common purposes and a common goal:

"We may be finally be coming to understand what De Tocqueville saw - the promise of democratic politics is in people's ability to enter into relationships with one another to articulate common purposes and act on them. Organizing to bring people back into politics is not a cost, but it is an investment - an investment in rebuilding the infrastructure of our public life that has been under assault for far too many years."

Oh, and please do check out the Practicing Democracy Network at Harvard KSG. Their "mission is to develop leaders committed to practicing democracy - engaging fellow citizens in collective action." I'll have to go and look for fellow Germans to set up such a network over here!

Samstag, 14. Februar 2009

A Case For A Comprehensive Collaboration Model

I've noted the special value of "collaboration", as opposed to mere "deliberation" in consultations before. Deliberation as a process of assembling or arguing from different perspectives in order to establish common sense recommendations is clearly different from engaging people for change in a collaborative process that produces action. Now I found a good thought over at the connectedrepublic.org on how "Collaboration Has Become the Building Block for Productivity and Growth in Government". The connectedrepublic people are a community that discusses aspects of a basic question: "How can creators and users of public services gain from our increasingly connected world?" A lot of it is about digital options, about Government 2.0 and the like.

Collaboration as a basic need and form of interaction in the 21st century
What contributor gcharles at gcharles basically says is this:
  • we live in an increasingly more dynamic and diversified, yet interconnected and interactive world
  • to serve the needs of this world, those of us who work in the public sector (or, for that matter, the citizen sector, if I might add) should develop a new (digital) collaboration model which converges process, technology, and our 21st century culture
  • the collaboration model signifies the "convergence of all forms of communications into experiences that accelerate productivity and decision making at any time, in any place, on any device."
In other words: we should lower the cost of collaboration because collaboration is a basic need and form of public interaction in the 21st century.

Gcharles quotes a certain Gartner Group's prediction "that by 2015, workers will spend more than 80 percent of their time working collaboratively, and only a small portion of collaborative work will be done at the same time in the same place." A comprehensive collaboration model would "empower not just today's mobile workforce but also our connected devices and our citizens" - who, yet another important insight, are themselves "moving beyond self-service to become participatory designers and deliverers of the very services they and their neighbors need."

The fundamental political challenge of collaboration
To gcharles, that idea is so obviously in high demand and beneficial that it's also a clearcut business case. I agree. But while gcharles is focussing in on the generation, exchange, and delivery of social services, I think the challenge of a collaboration model goes beyond: collaboration is an essential political matter. It is a mode of informal politics that we need to adopt to complement the old formal, and sometimes failing, procedures of politics.

How to make (social) collaboration an easy, every day activity is, I think, a fundamental question. Wouldn't it be great if collaboration procedures were as easy and accessible to everyone as calling a friend is today?

Donnerstag, 12. Februar 2009

DiaYou: Jouwert van Geene on Multi-Stakeholder Processes

DiaYou is about You, the professional facilitator! The aim is to to bring together all kinds of real life different perspectives on participative procedures.

I'm proud to present my second interview with Jouwert van Geene, here on the left. Coincidentally, Jouwert is also friends with Alisa Oyler, my first DiaYou-Interviewee. They have worked together in Zimbabwe.

I met Jouwert when I wanted to know who was behind the great resource website on Multi- Stakeholder Processes. Well, it's Jouwert and his colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, among them Prof. dr L. J. (Lynn) Frewer, co-author of "Typology of Public Engagement Mechanisms", and others. - For a great non-digital introduction to Multi Stakeholder Processes, a must read for anyone interested in organized dialogue, please read Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability: Beyond Deadlock and Conflict by Minu Hemmati, who also cooperates with the Wageningen people.

Jouwert van Geene is an international facilitator. After six years in Africa, he is now working as advisor and trainer at Wageningen International University. Jouwert is particularly interested in how participatory methods are used in institutional change processes to address complex problems. He recommends keeping an eye on http://portals.wi.wur.nl/changealliance, a new initiative that promotes learning between high-level multi-stakeholder processes.

Jouwert, what I frame as "Organized Dialogue", you and your colleagues call a Multi- Stakeholder Process. What do you mean by that, and what is an example?
A Multi-Stakeholder Process (MSP) is an engagement of a group of different actors from various sectors (public, private, civil society) and different levels. They collaborate over a certain space and time to address a problem or to achieve a common goal that none of the actors could address alone. Central to MSPs is social or societal learning: the changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, perceptions, values that is a result of the interaction between stakeholders. Social learning can lead to the institutional innovation that MSPs aim at.

What is the relevance of "process" to your work?
Process is key at different levels and scales. A MSP is a process that can take very long and can typically go through different stages such as initiating, adaptive planning, collaborative action and reflective monitoring. Within multi-stakeholder meetings often generic facilitation processes such as setting a context, divergence, emergence and convergence can be used. Furthermore feedback loops of action-reflection take place throughout the process. So carefull attention to processes in the design, facilitation and reflection on MSPs is needed.

What is your idea of social or political change, and (how) does it relate to your work?
Social change is related to social or societal learning and institutional change. Social learning for us means linking learning and change at the individual, organisational and group/network level. People, organisations and their relationships and behaviours may change through sharing of perspectives, dialogue, joint analysis and planning. Institutional change for us means the change in recurring patterns of behaviour, the rules of the game, that govern a certain situation. This is about institutional aspects like meaning giving institutions (values, knowlegde creation), association (organisations and their relationships), control (mandates, policies, legislation) and action (behaviour, services). Multi-stakeholder processes are tools for social learning and institutional change.

What is your definition of an unprofessional facilitator?
An unprofessional facilitator lacks the needed attitude, knowledge, skills and style to design, facilitate and sustain appropriate interaction among participants or stakeholders. S/he is not able to translate a thorough analysis of a situation, combined with the needs of stakeholders into a process that provides direction towards results. S/he fails to pick up signals from participants or stakeholders to adapt a process and deal with underlying issues, tensions or emerging conflicts. A professional facilitator combines methodological rigour with a deeply rooted passion for inquiry leading to impact and change.

What's the relevance of your work to interest and power-based Realpolitik?
Multi-stakeholder processes play an important role in new ways of governance in which government shares responsibilities and decision-making with civil society and private sectors. MSPs help to find practical and sustainable (locally owned) solutions to complex problems. Within MSPs there should be conscious attention understanding different interests and expectiations of actors, as well as power issues. Nevertheless MSPs can never be value-free or amoral - they will need to explicitly surface the underlying values and assumptions that are used to project and justify a certain change or solution.

What's a question you would like to answer on my blog (and what`s the answer)?
Are multi-stakeholder processes a means or an end? MSPs are principally an instrument to reach impact or sustainable change. However, multi-stakeholder processes also encourage and instill important values such as empowerment and accountability.