Who should be in the room?
Dear collaborative discussion friends,
This week we are highlighting Activity 5.2 Developing an Awareness of Stakeholders, designed to help participants think deeply and methodically about who has a stake in the conversation and should be included at the table. This activity expands thinking and encourages greater inclusivity.
Interview with Lori Britt
Listen to Lori Britt, Professor at the School of Communication & ICAD Co-Director at James Madison University, and Shannon Hartman, Vice President of the Interactivity Foundation, discuss how and when to use this activity. This is one of many activities in the Civic Collaboration Module.
If you missed last week’s newsletter, Identifying Knowledge in the Community, you can access it and our other weekly newsletters by subscribing below.
This week’s activity:
Identifying various types of stakeholders
This activity offers a framework for identifying the stakeholders of a particular topic or issue. It encourages participants to look beyond just those immediately affected to people who are connected to the issue in other ways. This activity helps them think of all the different people who need to be included in the conversation to successfully create change.
Select a Topic
Select a topic that is important to your discussion group, something they are passionate about or where they see the need for change. As preparation for this activity, consider Activity 5.1 Identifying Your Civic Passion.
Introduce the Four Types of Stakeholders
Begin this activity by using the following four categories to help define who a stakeholder might be:
- Affected: Those directly impacted by the issue, whose lives are directly touched by the issue.
- Helpers: Those who try to help those impacted. This could be family, friends, support groups, non-profits, institutions, etc.
- Influencers: Those who try to influence how the issue is defined and/or advocate for changes.
- Decision-Makers: Those who have the power to make change through policy. (Policy being defined as a change in the status quo which might include, but is not limited to, legislation.)
Pro tip: Take a few minutes to quickly provide examples of stakeholders for an issue.
Create Stakeholder Charts
In small groups, have participants identify stakeholders for the issue using this chart of stakeholders. Use the following prompts to help participants think deeply about who these stakeholders are:
- Who is directly impacted by the issue?
- Are there others affected indirectly?
- Who are the people or organizations who help those impacted?
- Who has the authority to make decisions about this issue?
- Who might inform those decisions?
- Who is shaping public perception of this issue?
- Who has critical information about this issue?
- Who is involved in addressing the issue?
Invite participants to expand on the initial list of people who are obviously affected by this issue, while ensuring that they only add those with a stake. Encourage them to think about all the people who stand to benefit or lose something from changes implemented in regards to this issue. When choosing stakeholders, ask participants to bring in as many diverse perspectives into the conversation as they can.
Share Stakeholder Charts & Debrief
Once complete, invite each small group to share their chart with the full group.
- Are there any “surprise” stakeholders on these lists?
- What are some strategies you can use to recognize the less obvious or marginalized stakeholders?
- Why is it important to consider as many stakeholders as possible?
- What is gained by this? When might this hinder progress or development?
In addition to these debriefing questions, the full description of Activity 5.2 Developing an Awareness of Stakeholders also includes reflection questions, a practice journal prompt and additional resources to help participants dive deeper.
Dive Deeper by Pairing Activities Together
This activity has been successfully used for many different purposes, from creating more inclusive campus conversations to deciding who to recruit as panelists for a discussion. It can be paired with other activities in the toolkit to further deepen participants’ understanding of a topic.
In addition to Activity 5.1 Identifying Your Civic Passion, another activity that can be done as a precursor to this activity is Activity 3.5 Seeking Divergent Thinking and Perspectives. This can help participants think more deeply about the issue selected by “surrounding the topic” to explore its multiple dimensions.
You could also pair this activity with Activity 4.6 Asking Questions to Promote Curiosity. First, use this activity to develop a list of stakeholders and then use Activity 4.6 to develop “good questions”. Participants can then use these questions to interview a few of the stakeholders prior to a discussion to uncover how these stakeholders think about an issue.
If you try out this activity, please share with us what you think:
We hope this toolkit activity helps participants see how interconnected people in a community are when it comes to a particular issue and that a wide variety of perspectives needs to be included in the conversation to truly understand all the different facets of an issue, garner support for efforts to create progress, and ensure the success of such efforts.
- Mark your calendars! Our next community gathering is this Friday, April 14th at 2 pm (EDT). This gathering will be a workshop exploring best practices for designing a certificate program and incorporating toolkit activities in projects or courses. All are welcome! Register here.
- The School of Public Affairs at American University is hosting an online conversation about dialogue and pedagogy, “Can We Talk? Defining, Practicing, and Protecting Dialogue in Higher Education” on June 13th and 14th from 1pm – 5pm (EDT). Over the two days, this event will have four 90-minute sessions, each beginning with a short keynote followed by an interactive facilitated discussion. All are welcome! Register here.
- We are also accepting nominations for our Pilot Coach Training for Undergraduate Students. Space will be limited. You can learn more or nominate a student by emailing me at [email protected]
Looking forward to collaborating,
Ritu Thomas & Shannon Wheatley Hartman