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How do I conduct successful stakeholder dialogues in business parks?

By 26 May 2023June 10th, 2024No Comments
Engaging in constructive and effective dialogues with stakeholders is essential when striving for collective sustainability. It requires thorough preparation, a strategic approach, and the ability to listen to different perspectives. This longread offers valuable insights and guidelines for conducting successful stakeholder dialogues. From conducting pre-research and finding common ground to building trust and smartly utilizing digital tools, discover how these guidelines can contribute to promoting sustainability in business parks and beyond.
  1. Conduct research on individual stakeholders. Conducting research on individual stakeholders is crucial for effective stakeholder dialogues. This helps in identifying the right conversation partners, avoiding pitfalls, and understanding potential reactions. Conducting a brief survey among relevant meta-stakeholders can be helpful in this regard.
  2. Understand the context of businesses and business parks. The context in which businesses and business parks operate plays a crucial role in promoting collective sustainability. External factors, such as mobility issues, can influence companies’ willingness to participate in sustainability initiatives. It is important to understand these contextual factors and respond to them accordingly.
  3. Find common ground. Identifying common ground is essential for bringing different organizations together to work on a collective initiative. Active listening and transparency are crucial in this regard. By seeking common ground from the outset, a solid foundation can be laid for fruitful dialogue.
  4. Choose a thematic focus. To achieve depth within limited conversation time, it is necessary to quickly choose a thematic focus. It is practically impossible to discuss all possible project ideas in detail. By choosing and pruning, a common understanding can be established, and concrete results can be achieved.
  5. Think big, start small. Striving for climate-neutral and climate-resilient business parks requires ambition, but it is important to remain realistic. Start by identifying major challenges, but also look for feasible kick-start ideas. It is the combination of vision and concrete steps that leads to success.
  6. Quickly restart. For promising ideas, it is important to develop a concrete action plan or offer quick wins. Providing funding for further research and facilitating group formation of stakeholders who want to proceed together contributes to maintaining momentum in the process and builds trust.
  7. Anticipate with policy. Stakeholders aim for speed and action once a common vision and approach have been developed. It is the city’s responsibility to think in advance about the role and continuity they can provide in further developing project ideas. This promotes trust and progress in the process.
  8. Build trust. Pioneering collective sustainability projects requires trust from all involved parties. As a process facilitator, it is important to illuminate a path on which stakeholders can build trust to work together, tackle challenges, and make connections.
  1. Don’t rush the process. As a process facilitator, it’s important to consider the available time and stakeholders’ schedules. Sometimes, taking a little more time to build sustainable relationships is better than rushing the process. Patience can ultimately lead to sustainable collaboration.
  2. Influence, not control, and spread. While the process facilitator has influence over the dialogue, absolute control is not feasible. Success depends on various factors, including the team, process architecture, available time and resources, the right momentum, and the participation subject. To increase the chance of success, it’s important to ensure the involvement of diverse stakeholders and project opportunities.
  3. Role of business park associations. The presence of a business park association can be both advantageous and inhibiting for collective sustainability projects. It depends on the dynamics between the members and the board, as well as the personal involvement of the directors. It’s important to seek collaboration with business park associations but not to depend entirely on their full cooperation.
  4. Targeting potential champions. Through desk research, the process facilitator can identify and approach potential champions. It is essential to activate individuals with affinity and ambition in sustainability and gain their support. Building a critical mass and assigning legitimacy to the message of the process facilitator can thus be facilitated.
  5. Successful conversation management. For business stakeholders and entrepreneurs, a direct and transparent communication style is effective. Time is precious, so it’s important to be to-the-point and show respect for the conversation partner’s agenda.
  6. Balancing data and dialogue. When conducting stakeholder conversations, it’s necessary to share both framework and data insights and provide space for dialogue. As a rule of thumb, the 40/60 split is often used, where 40% to 60% of the time is spent on explanation and 40% to 60% on dialogue. A well-composed presentation can help, but it’s important to be flexible and adjust the conversation to the needs and dynamics of the group.
  7. Digitalization as a tool. The trajectory has shown that digital meetings are a suitable alternative to physical gatherings, especially for groups of up to about 10 people. For larger groups, a physical meeting is still recommended. Digital tools such as GIS maps and digital polls can support participants and increase engagement.

With these insights in mind, business parks can be transformed into climate-neutral and climate-resilient areas, with all stakeholders involved and benefiting from collective sustainability projects.

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