Stakeholder engagement: 60 tools for multistakeholder partnership processes

Purpose: To provide an overview of multistakeholder partnership processes, along with 60 tools useful for key aspects of those processes.

Description: Working with a range of people and organisations to tackle real-world problems and achieve change is the essence of multistakeholder partnerships. Multistakeholder partnerships coalesce around a shared problem, seek to involve all the key stakeholders, work across different sectors and scales, follow an agreed dynamic process and timeframe, establish expectations, work with power differences and conflicts, foster learning, balance bottom-up and top-down approaches, and focus on transformative and institutional change.

60 tools have been compiled to support multistakeholder partnership processes. They are grouped by 6 purposes, as shown below, although many tools can be used for more than one purpose. For each tool there is also an approximate time needed, a star rating for difficulty, and an indication of requirements. The requirements are in three categories: individual (fairly simple self-administered tool), interaction required (requires interaction with colleagues/partners) and complex (needs preparation time and skilled facilitation).

Connection tools

  1. Introductions
  2. Human Spectrogram
  3. Rich Picture
  4. Semi-structured Interviews
  5. Stakeholder Identification
  6. Appreciative Story Telling
  7. Questionnaires; Surveys
  8. Problem Definition Worksheet
  9. Ground Rules

Issue exploration and shared language tools

  1. Stakeholder Characteristics & Roles Matrix
  2. NetMapping
  3. Stakeholder Analysis
  4. World Café
  5. Problem Tree
  6. Timeline
  7. Force Field Analysis
  8. Context Immersions
  9. SWOT Analysis
  10. Delphi
  11. Visual Reminders
  12. Cynefin Framework
  13. Friends & Strangers
  14. Trendline
  15. Four Quadrants of Change

Divergence tools

  1. Adjust Group Size
  2. Role Plays
  3. Forms of Power
  4. Six Thinking Hats
  5. Multiple Perspectives
  6. Power Ranking
  7. Guided Fantasy
  8. Five Colours of Change
  9. Combining Ideas That Might Work Together

Co-creation tools

  1. Tuckman (forming, norming, storming, performing)
  2. Belbin Team Roles
  3. Scenario Planning
  4. Conflict Styles
  5. Partnership Agreements
  6. Open Space
  7. Document & Summarise
  8. Visioning
  9. Circle of Coherence

Convergence tools

  1. Prototyping
  2. Prioritising and Ranking
  3. Comparing Proposals
  4. Feedback from Stakeholders
  5. Ritual Dissent
  6. Card Clustering
  7. Socratic Dialogue
  8. A Change of Scene
  9. Silence

Commitment tools

  1. Set Decision Rules
  2. Make a Visual Theory of Change
  3. Polls
  4. Fish Bowl
  5. Reflection
  6. Synthesis
  7. Option One-and-a-Half
  8. Closing Circle
  9. Evaluation

The tools are provided as an online toolkit and in a guide, which also provides a comprehensive overview of multistakeholder partnerships. Only the guide provides information about time needed, the star rating for difficulty, and the indication of requirements.

Source: The guide and online toolkit were developed by staff at the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands.

Guide: Brouwer, Herman and Woodhill, Jim, with Hemmati, Minu, Verhoosel, Karèn and van Vugt, Simone (2019). The MSP Guide, How to design and facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships, 3rd edition. Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI): Wageningen, The Netherlands; and, Practical Action Publishing: Rugby, United Kingdom:

Online toolkit: http://www.mspguide.org/tools-and-methods

Related tools on this website:

  • Design methods: Design Exchange repository
  • Design thinking: 500+ tools and resources
  • Stakeholder engagement: methods for opening out, exploring, deciding and more

Related tools on i2Insights blog: N/A

Related tools on Wikipedia:

Some of the individual tools are available, eg.,

Posted: August 2021
Last modified: August 2021