The key to a great dinner party is having both the right mix of people and the right seating arrangement at the table. If you pull this off, and add in an engaged host, you will enjoy a stimulating evening of insightful conversation on current events, hear captivating personal stories, and leave with a new sense of a shared experience and new or stronger relationships. If you get something wrong you may end up with someone shouting and throwing a perfectly delicious bowl of soup across the room.
As it turns out, this attention to detail for hosting, guest lists, and seating charts is also key for planning a multi-stakeholder engagement process on agriculture, food security, and climate change adaptation. My role as regional research lead for the West Africa team of the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project has given me a behind-the-scenes look at two such Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) processes carried out with our teams in Mali and Ghana.