Do your homework when engaging stakeholders

Getting in touch with your stakeholders, finding out what moves them, where their interests lie, is a prerequisite for a meaningful dialogue. This is why we interview the alumni of our educational programs regularly. Like this we find out in which ways we have to develop our methodology further and ultimately how to shape the future of the Collective Leadership Institute to stay in touch with what our stakeholders need. This interview my colleague Katharina held with Mouna Lyoubi from Morocco – and left the room inspired…

Mouna, you are working on a very interesting project – tell me more about it.

Mouna The project is called “Cooperation between Cities and Municipalities” (CoMun). It is a regional project with presence in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. It started in 2008 in Morocco and in Tunisia after the Arab Spring, but not yet in Algeria. I am a local Junior Advisor in Morocco. We had a contest of projects coming from 16 cities and we selected 7 projects from 7 different cities. The cities proposed projects on energy efficiency, waste management, transport and rehabilitation of ancient medinas. The projects were provided with technical support and in 2012 we implemented networks between the cities. These networks create bridges for cooperation between the Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian cities and the countries themselves.

You attended our courses “Working with Stakeholder Dialogues” and “Practitioner Session”. What insights did you have reflecting on your project?

One of the insights drawn from the courses is to realize that a stakeholder dialogue should not be rigid and that it should involve the actors in the network to be part of the conceptual work. There are many little details that are complementary. After the courses we are now able to apply the phases of the Dialogic Change Model and to organize the process much better. I haven’t thought before of categorizing or analyzing each stakeholder and looking at how we can move them from an opposing action mode into a following action mode. This is still a new approach to me in terms of analyzing a dialogue.

What would you recommend to those who engage with stakeholders?

I’d say it is very important to do your homework when preparing. When you meet stakeholders for the first time, you should at least have an idea of the concept. It is also important to know who your stakeholders are, their areas of interest and expertise. The process shouldn’t be just about inviting people, but having a dialogue with them that gives you a deeper understanding of their interest.

What are the goals and principles underlying the project?

Structured, continuous and sustainable – that is how we want the exchange to be. We want the networks to live by themselves, even if the program comes to an end. We started arranging meetings for every two to three months in one of the cities, so that an exchange of best practices can take place. Another principle underlying our work is the bottom-up approach, to involve more cities in the concept; we decided to create a committee. Volunteers from the cities, as members of the committee, prepare the evaluations and work on the internal rules of the network.

I can feel your passion for CoMun. Where does this passion come from?

The passion comes from the context itself. Morocco is now going from a centralized policy to a decentralized policy, we are going through regionalization. The ministries are trying to empower our local governments and I feel there is a need for this kind of dialogue. There is interest from the local and the central government and from international organizations. We feel supported and encouraged. People are very impressed by this idea, because they did not think about this before. They did not think of the power that a cooperation can bring.

Do you want to meet the Collective Leadership Institute staff in person too? Here is an overview of the latest events.