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How to design and facilitate an MSP?

The starting point for any MSP is a recognition that any successes won’t just happen; they will arise from the implementation of a carefully considered design. In general, the practice of designing an MSP has three key elements:

  • A process model that outlines the main phases of a MSP and the key process considerations for effective stakeholder collaboration;
  • A set of  facilitation skills required by those designing, managing, leading or facilitating MSPs, and;
  • A set of participatory methodologies and tools that can be used help create interactive learning processes which manifest the principles and qualities of effective multi-stakeholder engagement.

MSP’s should firstly be designed according to a sound rationale for the change that the MSP hopes to contribute to. In doing this, a clear understanding of the existing problem and the objectives of the participating stakeholder is essential. With this understanding of the context, the MSP should have a well-defined and agreed upon mission and vision, in combination with the principles for transformative change.

Since no 2 MSP’s can be regarded as identical and almost every MSP will encounter developments which require flexibility of the process, the design of an MSP should not be treated as a blueprint, but a dynamic guide which adopts a holistic viewpoint of the many internal and external variables.

At the core of MSP philosophy is a demand that the involved stakeholders themselves are actors in the design and creation of the MSP which incorporates not only the needs of these stakeholders, but also their capacities to contribute to and sustain the process.  

With this in mind, the practical element of the MSP framework takes a design approach which is consistent with the participatory and learning-oriented nature of the other parts of the framework, starting with a process model which draws on the idea of experiential learning.

If 'design' means being thoughtful and systematic in putting together a process, then our process model sets out the big categories of elements to think about in doing that, by highlighting the considerations at different phases of the process. These phases are conceptually sequential but in practice not at all linear: the process is (and should be) iterative.

In the column on the right hand side of this page, you can access and learn about CDI’s Process Model. You can also read about some of the key considerations a facilitator needs to make in preparing to facilitate an interactive MSP. We also discuss how the selection of relevant and interesting tools and methods is essential to provide structure to and enhance an MSP.