Methodological pluralism and variety is key in processes involving multiple stakeholders as it maximises the opportunities for different people to find a voice in the process, as well as keeping it fresh, interesting and challenging.
This implies developing and using diverse methodologies from different bodies of thought as a means of developing community understanding. Our own repertoire draws heavily on our participatory development experience, but is also inspired by others, from scientific research to creative artistic expression
A key part of facilitating the learning process is to be able to choose the right set of tools and methodologies at the right moment, taking into account the situation and the stage in the process.
Some considerations in making these choices include:
- Whether the process is at a moment where exploration and generating new ideas is the priority, or analysing, refining and choosing between options or it is time for planning (i.e. divergence, emergence or convergence).
- When to share and reflect on past experiences in order to adapt the strategies or upscale the activities.
- How power relations and conflict dynamics within the stakeholder group may play out when different approaches are used: for instance, highly stylised and heavily managed processes such as a formal debate, ritualised or time-constrained contributions, and responding to fixed action learning questions require a lot of effort but can be quite effective in levelling participants and de-personalising the issues.
- Whether people have to understand each other better and accept their differences before they are able to consider building on each other’s’ strengths.
- What is culturally and politically appropriate: for instance choosing methods that enable women or youths to find their voice and become comfortable with playing a different role than their habitual public role, rather than suddenly exposing them to a format in which they are expected to assert a very different role in public.
For a complete overview of the tools and methods used and recommended by WCDI, download the MSP Tool Guide.