How do I assemble an arena group?

Start with a broad definition and analysis of the system and with an outline social map or actor analysis, which will identify the major challenges and the specific involvement of different parties. Then make a long-list of candidates and select a short list of around 10 to 15 people from that list for the transition group. It is more difficult to share knowledge and formulate a common vision if the group is larger. For descriptions of different methods you can use to assemble a group, click on the tab ‘Methods' at the top of this page. 

Individual members

The individual members should:

  • have a commitment to sustainability
  • be willing to work together and share their ideas
  • be capable of formulating visions
  • understand complex problems at a reasonably high level of abstraction
  • be capable of seeing beyond the boundaries of their own area of expertise and background
  • not be dogmatic when it comes to defining problems and solutions
  • be respected as innovators in their own sector
  • be willing to invest time in exploring problems and formulating a vision and to commit to it.

For the roles and competences of the participants, see also the cluster ‘Competences'.

The group as a whole

Guidelines for the group as a whole are:

  • Select members from the various stakeholders: government, the business sector, civil-society organisations, the scientific community. After all, sustainable solutions will almost always require input from actors in every domain. You will not only have the benefit of the knowledge possessed by the various parties, but will also have access to diverse relevant networks.
  • Assemble a mix of pioneers with experience in innovation and decision-makers in the established regime. Experience shows that the majority of the group that formulates the outline vision should be innovators (creative thinkers); they are the backbone for implementing the innovative visions.
  • Make sure that there are enough people in your group with social status and networks, since they will be able to give the innovative vision a more prominent place on the public agenda
  • The members of the group have three functions: vision creation, communication and networking.

Tailored to the level of vision creation

Ensure that there is an operational programme before selecting the people who will implement the vision. Some members of the group should always be able to think in abstract terms, but a majority of the group can be people who think in more practical terms.

The group has no formal status yet

If you are establishing an arena group or platform, do not immediately give it a formal status. You will then have time to assess the prospects of a programme for system innovation without immediately facing the pressure of high expectations or accountability. If the results of the group's work are good, they can be published more widely and the group can be given a more formal status. See also Ten tips for clever change, tip 2.