The dialogue may be followed by work on finding solutions, preparation or making decisions. The deeper understanding of the topic gained in the dialogue prepares the group for working on the following stages, but you should keep the dialogue clearly separate from them.
The dialogue serves as a kind of warm up and tuning in before the next stages. The dialogue creates a trusting atmosphere and deepens understanding of almost any topic, which is a prerequisite for decision-making and developing solutions. In longer processes, a dialogue can be used in the different stages of the work whenever there is a need to stop to reflect on important issues. If the composition of the group of people participating in the work or decision-making process changes, a dialogue is a way to form a common understanding between the new participants.
Longer co-creation processes can be planned based on three different stages:
1) A dialogue aimed at increasing understanding
2) Work aimed at generating ideas and finding solutions
3) Deliberative negotiation aimed at a resolution, vision or objectives.
If the intention is to continue working after the discussion and possibly make decisions, weigh the following questions:
- Have the parts involving a dialogue been clearly separated from the stages that require decision-making and goal-oriented work? Has this been communicated to the participants as openly as possible?
- Who should be informed about the content of the discussion? Who may benefit or learn from it?
- Have you thought about how to document the discussion and the insights gained in the dialogue so that it will be possible to learn from it even after the discussion?
- Will co-creation be the next step following the dialogue and how do the insights gained in the dialogue lay a foundation for the work.
- Can the discussion be visualised or made visible in some other way? Is it possible to form principles or present the insights as a poster?
- How can you ensure that the trust formed in the dialogue will also carry on to decision-making? Can the same ground rules for a dialogue be observed also in the coming stages?