I just return from the launch event for the Change Alliance – a new initiative that aims at promoting multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs) that stand for a positive social change (towards more empowerment, justice, equity and the alleviation of poverty among others). Beyond this happy fluffy focus is an eclectic but converging collective of institutions and individuals that are committed to these beautiful values in a variety of ways. We explored these different strands in the Alliance across the two days of the workshop.
We found out was that generally there was a fair amount of convergence among us, although we should keep dissenting voices and a certain degree of ‘irritation’ on the fringes to keep stinging ourselves when we fall back to our comfort zone. And in spite of that convergence, we also found out there were perhaps two main dichotomies that polarised our group and steered the reflection and activities in a way or another – as shown in the picture below:
- On the one hand a dichotomy between conceptual exploration and pragmatic documentation: some among us are more inclined in looking at the value and promises of MSPs through an academic lens, expanding the boundaries of this nascent field of multi-stakeholder process thinking. Others – including me – are more interested in the hands-on approach, exchanging tips, tricks, tools, models, approaches, documents etc. to get more effective and closer to achieving our hypothesis of change in the processes in which we are involved.
- On the other hand, there is also a dichotomy between those involved in an MSP as endogenous actors (actors that are part of the social fabric where the MSP is taking place) and those that do it from a professionalised mandate. In the former case, we are also referring to local societal movements that try to reverse power structures on their own; in the latter, among the proponents of the MSP are external actors that intervene only as professionals, i.e. that are not part of the social fabric and may not be affected on a personal level by what is happening in the MSP because they don’t feel any endogenous pressure. In fact the majority of us participants were in that latter case, but we were really inspired by civic-driven movements and other endogenous MSP initiatives, so there are good hopes to learn across these two types of MSPs.
This is only the dawn of this new community of practice and as ever in these cases we all hold our breath to see how the Alliance will develop (or not). I will probably get back to this launch in future posts as I have digested the incredible wealth of information that was shared in these two days. The report of the workshop will hopefully follow soon.
In the meantime, for those interested, the Change Alliance’s website can be accessed by using as login and password ‘guest’ and it should be populated quite quickly with more information, resources, members etc.
This links nicely with a message that I recently posted on the WASH sector learning discussion group to share a series of lessons learnt with our learning alliance projects in the water-sanitation-hygiene sector. Having just posted those lessons as is (when they were planned for internal audiences only), I found out thanks to a comment by one of the list members that crucial context was missing. You can find the entire thread on: http://groups.google.com/group/washsectorlearning/browse_thread/thread/2a27ab8a1ef6503a#. If you want more context you can always check this previous blog post about learning alliances.
More on change, alliances, learning in upcoming posts…