Hire a Neutral Facilitator
An effective neutral facilitator will focus on protecting the process, whereas the leadership team and stakeholders are focused on the content and development of the plan itself. Facilitators can help set an even playing field for everyone engaged, preventing and managing conflict, and turn challenges into constructive conversations. The facilitator can organize group thoughts, dictate the flow of the planning process, set clear meeting objectives, hold stakeholders accountable to expectations, and help participants see beyond their own interests and jurisdictions.
Some SMPs hired facilitators early in the process to conduct individual and small group interviews with key stakeholders and water users. This gave stakeholders anonymity to share concerns that may be too sensitive to share in a large group setting but are essential for an SMP process to proceed smoothly.
Once all interviews were completed, the facilitator led a series of meetings to answer key questions such as:
What are the flow-related challenges and opportunities?
What is the potential value you see of having a stream management plan?
Is this organization the right entity to convene and lead a SMP ?