Continuum of Engagement – Ask Who Does It Primarily Serve?

This Sunday January 18th at beautiful Rivendell Retreat on Bowen Island, BC, my colleague Brenda Chaddock and I are co-presenting Facilitating Wise Action: Engaging Groups in Meaningful Conversations Around Complex Issues. The program is focused on conversational methods that foster mutual understanding, learning, partnership, and co-creation.

In past offerings (this is our third), participants have found the questions from our Engagement Process and Continuum to be enlightening, especially those related to purpose, convener, participants, and methods. We suggest that the continuum of engagement can be distinguished according to two broad types: unilateral/bilateral, and multilateral. The purpose for unilateral and bilateral forms of engagement primarily serves the convener. In multilateral engagement, all participants are equally served by the purpose, including the convener. Viewing the purpose of engagement through this lens sheds some helpful light on the role of the convener, on who should be invited, and on what are the best methods for the engagement. For those interested in learning more, please download a PDF extract of the Engagement Process: Continuum of Engagement which is part of our Facilitating Wise Action curriculum. A summary follows of the above categories:


Type: Unilateral & Bilateral (Serves Convener)

  • One Way Communication: We Tell You Our Story (inform, educate)
  • Hearings & Research: We Invite Your Input (listen, gather data, input)
  • Two-Way Consultation: We Listen to Various Sides (discuss, obtain feedback; hear sides & stories)

Type: Multilateral (Serves all participants)

  • Mutual Understanding: Together, We Learn/Reframe Conflict (learn together about common issue; transform conflict)
  • Partnership & Co-Creation: Together, We Decide & Collaborate (generate solutions; collaborate; partner; co-create)

Author: myriamlaberge

M.A. (Economics), Certified Professional Facilitator Founder & Managing Director