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NCDD-DISCUSSION  December 2010, Week 1

NCDD-DISCUSSION December 2010, Week 1

Subject:

Re: Creative Deliberation?

From:

Dennis Boyer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Dennis Boyer <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 7 Dec 2010 16:39:06 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (56 lines)

Hi Tom: At the Interactivity Foundation (interactivityfoundation.org) we are working on process that deals with some of the issues you raise. We try to be a little more conceptual and anticipatory in how we approach discussion, so we're on the preliminary end of the deliberative spectrum (I call it the "front end") and our approach is not well suited to the action/decision/consensus end ("back end"), unless seen in as part of what gets participants/decisionmakers ready for choices.

     As a practical matter our approach works best with subject matter that is not already polarized ( or if it is, we need to undertake a conceptual deconstruction and take the discussion into neutral territory).

     As I have tried to bridge the two ends of the spectrum (a fool's errand according to some of my colleagues) I have gained some traction through discussion of case studies and hypotheticals. That has been helpful in some sitautions in getting participants to consider necessary decision elements and consequences apart from the bias and emotions built into existing "problems".

     I'd be interested to see what else this discussion thread turns up.

Thanks for raising the issue. Dennis Boyer

-----Original Message-----
From: "Tom Atlee" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, December 5, 2010 9:52am
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [NCDD-DISCUSSION] Creative Deliberation?

Many (most?) citizen deliberative methods take deliberators through some version of the following steps:

1.  Review briefing materials that summarize arguments for and against the 3-5 main options being discussed in the public debate on the subject, hopefully covering 80-90 percent of the spectrum of opinion.  (Sometimes -- as in a Citizen Initiative Review -- the deliberators simply evaluate whether or not an existing proposal should be supported.) 
2.  Hear expert testimony, get expert answers to questions, and/or cross-examine diverse experts. (Some methods skip some or all of this step.)  
3.  Deliberate in the group, weighing the merits and trade-offs of the presented options.  See how much of a consensus can be achieved and, if not, report out the distribution of opinion in the group. 

This general approach tends to restrict the considered options to what is already being talked about in mainstream discourse, rather than invoking the creativity of the deliberators to come up with something better than the mainstream options.  In contrast, other methods like brainstorming or Dynamic Facilitation focus on creativity, but may not take the time to adequately deliberate on the feasibility and potential problems or consequences of what the participants create.  In between these are various half-way approaches such as allowing or encouraging deliberators to mix-and-match aspects of various options to see if they can improve on the mainstream presented options.  Or sometimes (as in several of the AmericaSpeaks events) deliberators simply revolt and say they want something that isn't one of the choices they've been given.

It seems that a process that is both open and creative and also rigorously deliberative would offer higher quality results than any of the above.  I would love to hear about any citizen deliberative approaches already out there that attempt to do that.  Just to invite imaginative dialogue, I offer the following model as a possible approach.  It would definitely be a multi-day deliberation (involving preferably a random cross-section microcosm of the population), along the lines of citizens juries, consensus conferences, or citizen assemblies, but with some added creative bells and whistles...

1.  Review briefing materials that summarize arguments for and against the 3-5 main options being discussed in the public debate on the subject, hopefully covering 80-90 percent of the spectrum of opinion.
2.  Get diverse expert answers to questions and cross-examine those experts.
3.  Deliberate in the group, weighing the merits and trade-offs of the main options and seeing if there's consensus on any one of them or a recombination of them, and specifically inviting any other approach that might have more benefits and fewer trade-offs.
4.  Split into web-surfing teams for a couple of hours to see what other hot information or options are available on the web.  (Perhaps make it a challenge: Who can find the best stuff?!!)  Come back together to share what was found.
5.  Repeat deliberation as in (3) but including the new information and options found.  Note any new questions or potential favored options that show up or which the group, itself, wants to create.  Include Dynamic Facilitation here if the conversational energy is hot, to help it move toward an emergent breakthrough.
6.  Consult (perhaps by phone) with experts who can answer any new questions and/or provide input on the feasibility or likely consequences of any new options the group is considering recommending.
7.  Repeat steps 5 &  6 until agreement is reached or a clear set of majority/minority recommendations solidifies.  Whichever happens, articulate clear rationale for the recommendations presented.

Do you have any thoughts on this approach, or on other approaches that combine full-spectrum information, high levels of creativity AND rigorous deliberation among diverse perspectives and options?

Tom Atlee
co-intelligence.org
---

NCDD's discussion and announcement lists are generously provided by L-Soft ( www.lsoft.com ) and are powered by L-Soft's LISTSERV mailing list management software ( www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html ).  Learn more about NCDD's email lists in the community section of the NCDD website ( www.thataway.org/community/lists/ ).  Please read this mailing list's rules ( www.thataway.org/community/listrules ) before you post.


Dennis Boyer,JD,MPA
Fellow of the Interactivity Foundation
3302 Bethlehem Rd
Dodgeville,WI 53533
cel 608 574 5704

www.interactivityfoundation.org


---

NCDD's discussion and announcement lists are generously provided by L-Soft ( www.lsoft.com ) and are powered by L-Soft's LISTSERV mailing list management software ( www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html ).  Learn more about NCDD's email lists in the community section of the NCDD website ( www.thataway.org/community/lists/ ).  Please read this mailing list's rules ( www.thataway.org/community/listrules ) before you post.

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