Only dedicated circles give birth to something new

This saying by a circle of African wise women captures an important lesson in Stakeholder Dialogues: engagement requires a team of committed people.

In order to bring a project forward, it is important to have a group of people that are dedicated to the change envisaged and to implementing the intended change jointly. At the CLI we call this a Container – and as methodology it is the core of our work. Many stakeholder involvement processes fail or have little impact because there is no solid Container of people who feel collectively responsible for fostering and holding the process from beginning to end.


Ideally, the Container acts as a source of energy for progress toward a common goal. This works best when it consists of highly motivated people whom the other stake­holders trust. Personal engagement is key, one should therefore avoid creating a system composed only of delegates who may or may not be fully committed to a cause. Preferably, a Container is composed of individuals that already represent the different interests of the participating stakeholders. They are emotionally connected with each other in way of treating each other respectfully, even if they disagree, they are emotionally connected to the higher goal and passionately prepared to push forward the vision for the common good.

When building a good Container, you can ask yourself these guiding questions:

  •  Who are the people who can drive change?
  • Which actors represent the larger system?
  • What could compel the actors to support the Stakeholder Dialogue’s cause?

Interested to find out more on Container-building? Here you go!