The following is a list of guiding principles that we work to.

The Process:

It is critical that the process is coherent, well designed and managed and tailored to the situation. It should be inclusive and equitable in that all stakeholder perspectives are included and there is balance between the various agendas. Ideally it will be facilitated by an independent third party to ensure neutrality and will be underpinned by a principle of respect for stakeholders.

A well designed process will foster mutual respect between all stakeholders and builds shared responsibility. It will also assist stakeholders to relate back to the people or organisations they represent.

Dialogue:

Dialogue seeks to maximise what is ‘up for grabs’ but manages expectations about what is achievable. It starts by building on common ground and establishing a common information base. It fosters mutual learning and solutions are taken on merit and not on the status of the person making them.

Creativity and synergy are facilitated in the dialogue, feelings, interests and fears are valued and solutions are sought that everyone can live with and most support. Stakeholders give informed consent to the outcome. Additionally, the invisible products such as understanding, trust and new relationships, are valued as much as the visible documents or agreements.

Outputs:

At the end of the process the decision is technically sound and has the support of relevant experts, the views of participants have influenced the decision and stakeholders ‘own’ the decision – they can explain it to others and some champion it.

Decisions made through stakeholder dialogue are easily put into practice with little or no changes because, having explored the constraints, stakeholders agree it is the best possible outcome. As a consequence, momentum is maintained and implementation delivered as soon as practicable with increased efficiency due to reduced opposition.

Less tangible outputs relate to increases in social capital including; establishment of reciprocal trust and cooperation between participants based on an understanding of each other's needs and wants and a more empowered community willing to be involved in networks and future engagement processes.

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