Going Deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
Inclusive stakeholder governance – in a democratic sense – ideally means that the people who will be affected by a decision play meaningful roles in making it, and that those closest to a situation take meaningful action to address it. So we want to help full-spectrum networked stakeholders who already play informed – if often conflicting – roles in their shared areas of concern, we want to help them manage their issue domains responsibly and wisely together.
“Stakeholder” is an important concept in a number of patterns, including this one. The sense of “stakeholder” which I’ve embedded into this pattern is somewhat broader and more philosophical than many other people’s definitions. It is not just about the power players – although they are included. Rather, in any given situation, we’re interested in who is involved in any significant way and who should be involved in order to have this situation have a good outcome. Whatever the realm of life – healthcare, governance, education, climate, whatever – we need to ask who is involved and who should be involved to have a good outcome. Those folks are the stakeholders in that realm. They are the actors, they’re being impacted by the situation and they have information or resources or power that is relevant to the scene and they’re involved.
The background of this is a worldview that is covered in the Universal Participation pattern that suggests that any given scene is being played out with the engagement of lots of different entities and factors. And if that’s true, then whatever problems are in the area, whatever issues or difficulties or disturbances are characteristic of that realm, they are being co-created by the entities that are involved.
So what would happen if you could bring all those entities together to deal with that realm collaboratively – to share information, to share energy, to share resources? What if you could somehow help them work together to manage that domain together? Well, that’s obviously a form of governance, and probably a good one.
I was first introduced to that perspective two or three years ago. I ran into two people over period of a few weeks who both pointed out to me that there’s an emerging dynamic through which many networks of stakeholders – multi-sector, multi-stakeholder, multi-scale networks – have people working together across those boundaries to deal with a particular issue domain they’re all involved in.
That’s happening somewhat spontaneously around the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Many of these multi-sector, multi-stakeholder, multi-scale networks are coming together around each of the goals. There are also regional multi-sector, multi-stakeholder, multi-scale (MS3) networks coming together in domains like food systems. All the different players who are dealing with food at different levels – the policymakers, growers, grocers, restaurants, farmers’ markets, consumers and so on – are all coming together to deal better with their regional food system. There are other examples of this happening, as well. The evolutionary leap I was introduced to was that this is, in fact, an emerging form of governance. GovernMENTS are playing a role in it because they are stakeholders, they also constitute a sector – the public sector – and they involve different scales or levels of government, all of which are involved in this kind of effort. But the whole effort is much broader than just government, and the different sectors and stakeholders have different roles to play. Government has particular roles to play, hopefully complementary with different roles by other players.
This is a part of the inquiry that is dancing around this emerging phenomenon. What are the proper roles that each network or type of player should be playing in order to have the whole thing work really well to the benefit of all the players and the larger system?