4: Tailoring the process

Without a good process for knowledge generation and decision-making it is difficult to achieve any lasting change. In particular, the more transformative change you strive for, the more focus you need to be put on process design. Wayfinder is designed to be applicable in a wide range of settings, but the specific process you run will need to be ‘tuned’ for your particular setting and for your goals. This work card describes a set of key issues to consider when tailoring your process.

Tailoring the Wayfinder process should be done in a small meeting or workshop setting with coalition members that have broad knowledge about the system, it’s landscapes, land uses, social and culture systems and institutions.

Suggested approach: small meeting or workshop

Time required: 2-3 hrs

Facilitation skill level: Medium

Resources: activity sheet, white boards/poster paper/markers/sticky notes

Consider the 5 C’s

General advice for how you go about the five different phases are presented throughout the guide, however at this initial stage it is useful to think about the 5C’s, listed in box 4.1 (context, culture, capacity, cognition and creativity), as a way to start tailoring the process design to the specificities of your context.

The 5 C’s will influence for example how many workshops and meetings that are appropriate, what kinds of meetings that will be most useful, or what kind of data and information that needs to be collected. Identifying these issues up front will enable you to design a process that effectively meets the existing needs and challenges.

Discussion around these issues among coalition members will help you determine how different phases of the process should be carried out more precisely (see attached activity sheet).

A group of geology students gets a lecture on a beach in Dorset, southern England. Wayfinder is designed to be applicable in a wide range of settings, but the specific process you run will need to be ‘tuned’ for your particular setting, considering for example the local context and culture. Photo: M. Axelsson/Azote

Box 4.1 prompts for tailoring the process

Context – What is the general landscape like? Is it remote with low population or are there large urban areas? What is the climate like? Does the landscape or climate represent any challenges for engaging with stakeholders? What has been the history of interventions, and how have people tried to solve problems in the past? What are the important spatial and temporal scales in the system that might influence how you run the process? The context will influence, for instance, how often it is appropriate to bring stakeholders together in a workshop setting, or where meetings should be held.

Culture – This refers to both ethnic culture but also to the social culture. Generally, is it open to change? Have current ways of doing been fixed for long periods of time? Are stakeholders willing to come together? What are potential conflicting interests related to this process? Which specific religious or cultural norms need to be observed and respected during the process? How is gender inequality specifically addressed in the design of the process? The culture will influence, for instance, the timing and format of stakeholder meetings.

Capacity – Do the skills and resources exist to support the Wayfinder process? Where there are gaps, how will these be filled? Are there governance arrangements to support the Wayfinder process and to implement outputs? Who are the changemakers in the system? Who has power in what areas and who hasn’t? The capacity in the system will influence, for instance, who is invited to participate, and in what way they are brought into the process.

Cognition – How do key stakeholders think about the problems the area faces? Do people engage with ideas of complexity and systems thinking, or are other explanatory models dominant? Is there a heavy reliance on external help to solve problems? How do people think about change, risk and unexpected events? Cognition will influence, for instance, what you do during stakeholder consultations, what kind of capacity building you might need to design into the process, and what expert input that might be needed at different phases of the process.

Creativity – Where do new ideas come from? Can you see signs of innovation in the system? Are there groups of people experimenting with different ways of doing things in the system? Where and how can other forms of creativity and expression be incorporated into the process? Is there a willingness to experiment? Creativity will influence, for instance, who you engage with in the process and how you ensure that solutions stemming from the Wayfinder process are truly innovative. You may need to stimulate innovation or connect to people outside the system to generate new ideas.

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5: Deciding on principles for stakeholder participation

Wayfinder is a collaborative process that relies on the active involvement of people that are part of the system that you set out to change. Different stakeholders contribute different types of knowledge to the process, and participation also builds engagement and creates legitimacy. At the same time, engaging with many groups of people takes time, and having many people involved may sometimes also prevent action. This work card provides some advice for what to think about when deciding on principles for stakeholder participation.

Deciding on principles for stakeholder participation is best done in a small face-to-face meeting between coalition members. Allow sufficient time to discuss who should be involved when, why, and in what way, and then reflect on some common statements that can guide your process design.

Suggested approach: workshop with all coalition members

Time required: 2 hrs

Facilitation skill level: Medium

Resources: white boards/poster paper/markers/sticky notes

Mapping stakeholders in the system

To identify relevant social groups and key actors in your context, it is useful to conduct an initial analysis of social structures and power dynamics. At this stage, the analysis should focus on the implications for process design, in terms of who to involve at what stage of the process, in what way, and to what depth. This is an important issue, since alternative process designs may empower or disempower different groups of people. There may also be trade-offs between broad participation, where many different groups of stakeholders are actively involved in the process, and effective decision-making. Thus, before engaging with a wider group of actors and stakeholders, issues around participation need to be thoroughly discussed in the coalition.

A group of women spend the afternoon together in the shade, Avaniya village, Gujarat, India. Wayfinder is a collaborative process that relies on the active involvement of people that are part of the system that you set out to change. Before getting started, it is important to think through principles for stakeholder participation, deciding on who should be involved in the process when and in what way. Photo: A. Löf/Azote.

Different forms of participation

There is a large body of literature on the subject of participation. The term is used in a range of contexts, ranging from what has been called “manipulative participation” (where “participation” occurs through a powerless representative of a wider group of people who only is put in place for show), to situations of self-mobilization, where people actively take the initiative to organize themselves and act for something they believe in. In between these two extremes, there is a whole spectrum of shallower to deeper participation that may be more or less appropriate and justifiable depending on the situation and context. Here we will focus on some key issues related to participation to consider when you design your Wayfinder process.

Balancing broad and strategic participation

Wayfinder deals with highly complex sustainability issues. There is not one correct way to describe these types of problems, neither are there any straightforward simple solutions to them. Bringing different groups of people together, that have different and complementary knowledge, perspectives, and priorities will generate a more nuanced and multifaceted understanding of a system and how to engage with it. Thus, engaging broadly with different groups of people, in a consultative way, has some clear advantages in a Wayfinder process. Deeper participation of key stakeholder groups, where they are actively involved to shape and co-design the process, is also important. This type of participation builds engagement and enhances the legitimacy of the Wayfinder process, increasing the chances of successful implementation of any plans that come out of the process. At the same time, broad participation of many different stakeholder groups often comes at a cost of what is perceived to be effective decision-making. Engaging with many different stakeholder groups takes time and resources. In some cases, it may also prevent action, for example if conflicts that cannot be managed arise. Therefore, in a Wayfinder process one also needs to be strategic about getting critical stakeholders around the table, at the right time.

Implications for the Wayfinder process

While it is difficult to give very specific advice here, a general recommendation is to seek broad participation in Phase 2 when joint aspirations are formulated and key dilemmas are identified, so that are large part of the community help frame the process and give it a relevant focus. In phase 3, when you explore system dynamics, you will likely need to involve both key stakeholder groups and some external experts, such as scientists. In Phase 4, it might be wise to be more strategic about who should participate, to ensure that people with innovative ideas and key decision makers, influencers and/or other changemakers in the system are actively involved. Phase 5, which is about implementation, will require that you engage more broadly again, with the larger community.

Regardless of how you go about involving people in your Wayfinder process, communicating well and managing expectations around the process is a key for success. The attached case from an ongoing Wayfinder pilot in Senegal, shows how they reasoned when deciding on principles for stakeholder involvement in their process.

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6: Setting up a system for information management and learning

Wayfinder is a learning process, that both collects large amounts of data and information, and generates many different types of outputs. It is essential to have structured way of dealing with all this material, so that you can make proper use of it throughout the process. This work cards describes how you can go about to set up a system for information management and learning.

Discuss with key people that will be part of the process how information should be organized to allow easy access later. Agree on a system for capturing, storing and sharing information.

Suggested approach: The lead practitioners and organziations should work together to develop an agreed approach

Time required: 4-6 hours spread over a few weeks

Facilitation skill level: none

Resources: information management software or spread sheets are useful to collate, organize and track information over time, internet-based project management tools, such as Trello or Basecamp may be useful

A whole lot of data

In each phase of Wayfinder data will be collected, and new knowledge will be generated. This information will span a wide range of quantitative and qualitative formats and cover many different topics, such as climate change patterns, land use data, human development indicators, consumer behaviors, preferences and perceptions, existing management plans and legislation, and so on and so forth. This information will need to be assembled, stored, synthesized and communicated to relevant stakeholder groups in appropriate ways.

Wayfinder is a learning process. Setting up a system for information management, will help you organize and store the large amounts of data collected and the information generated through the process, so that you can make proper use of it and learn. Photo: iStock.

Managing information

At this stage, you therefore need to agree in the coalition on a system for information management. This will enable learning both in the coalition and among process participants more broadly. Importantly, this will also reduce the vulnerability to changes in the composition of the coalition. If information is not properly managed and stored, there is a high risk that important insights from the Wayfinder process are lost if key individuals for some reason no longer are involved. The activity sheets and checklists associated with some of the work cards will help you summarize the work that you have done, but they do not cover everything, so you will have to decide on a format to store important findings that are not captured there. You also need to think about how to set up the infrastructure around this. Consider for example if you would like to use some available project management tool, where you collectively can manage your Wayfinder project, upload data and materials, keep track of what to do next, and communicate with each other in the coalition.

Planning for how to make use of it all

In addition to this, you also need to think about how you can learn as much as possible from your Wayfinder process and take stock of all the data that has been collected and knowledge that has been generated. The evaluation, reflection and sense-making questions that we provide at the end of each phase are intended to stimulate learning, and particularly deeper learning, but you also need to set a side time in the coalition to jointly debrief and discuss the progress continuously along the way, so that you can adjust your Wayfinder process accordingly. Decide on a format for this that works for your coalition. We will come back to the issue of learning in Phase 5 “Learning your way forward”. There, we move from assessment and planning into action, and the Wayfinder shifts character substantially. In Phase 5 you will need to develop your information management system and your learning framework further so that it allows you to monitor how your implementation works, i.e. to what degree the strategies designed in the Wayfinder process have the capacity to create the change that was sought after.

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