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White Paper: e-Deliberation - A Decidedly Better Way To Solve Complex Business Problems and Achieve A Meeting of the Minds With Your Team
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White Paper: e-Deliberation - A Decidedly Better Way To Solve Complex Business Problems and Achieve A Meeting of the Minds With Your Team

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This is a white paper describing the need of organizations to create broad-based support for their strategies, indeed, to involve the broad-base of stakeholders and people who care, including ...

This is a white paper describing the need of organizations to create broad-based support for their strategies, indeed, to involve the broad-base of stakeholders and people who care, including employees and the supply chain in the formation of these strategies.

Further it describes the innovation of the e-Deliberation™ process. e-Deliberation™ is the only web-based collaborative deliberation process that enables teams of 15 to 80 persons to
a) attack a problem situation, a challenge or a goal from several complementary angles at the same time
b) ensure that each of these angles of resolution are integrated, consistent one with another, and garner the consent and support of the participant group.
c) develop a critical mass of support for the strategy using consent-based decision-making.

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White Paper: e-Deliberation - A Decidedly Better Way To Solve Complex Business Problems and Achieve A Meeting of the Minds With Your Team Document Transcript

  • 1. An e-Deliberation™ White Paper e-Deliberation™: A Decidedly Better Way to Solve Complex Business Problems and Achieve a Meeting of the Minds With Your Team “e-Deliberation is the platform par excellence for teams to leverage the various types of expertise and capabilities in their organizations and associated stakeholders to solve difficult problems or embrace new opportunities. A leader who brings e-Deliberation to the organizational toolbox is exercising an unparalleled act of leadership by providing his or her organization with the means to engage large numbers of stakeholders in defining innovative, consent- based, inclusive, rich and feasible solutions to the challenges and issues they face.” V2.3 www.e-deliberation.com © 2011 – 2013 All Rights Reserved
  • 2. e-Deliberation™: A Decidedly Better Way to Solve Complex Business Problems and Achieve a Meeting of the Minds With Your Team Executive Summary What is e-Deliberation™? • An advanced collaborative decision making and strategy building platform. • Used by teams and communities to collaboratively resolve multi-stakeholder & multifaceted challenges and problems. • The leading platform for collaborative deliberation and stakeholder engagement. When to use e-Deliberation? • When your situation, goal or challenge cannot be resolved single-handedly (many stakeholder groups affected, many intertwined aspects, requires multiple types of expertise); • When the cost and effort of scheduling and bringing all these people together physically is prohibitive or impossible • To build community, coherence and commitment Benefits • High level of engagement and support for event outcomes; • Powerful change management (broad-based support, integration, critical mass & bias for action) • Simplified scheduling (does not disturb “rest of life” activities; no travel logistics) • Saves between 60% and 80% of the cost of assembling people in person (travel, hosting, event costs, etc.) • Rich/effective decision-making (bridges silos, considers multiple perspectives, allows for requisite expertise) • Effective communication (inclusive, multifaceted, well-documented, deep & deliberate exchanges) • Fosters organizational learning through exchanges across silos and domains of expertise How does it work? The event Focus is attacked along several vectors in parallel, using a team-based approach, with multiple feedback loops; Decision making is consent-based with full handling of participant variety and objections; Facilitation is assisted by site design, participant role assignations and automated workflows. Typical project rollout 1. Recognition/acknowledgement of the need for change or for collaboration 2. Select the type of outcome wanted 3. Select/invite/brief Participants 4. Finalize daily commitment & scheduling 5. Launch e-Deliberation process (according to chosen process variant/ outcome) 6. Transmittal of outcomes to organization & implementation e-Deliberation uses a secure website to host the deliberative process. The collaboration can occur online and/or in person. www.e-deliberation.com © 2011 – 2013 All Rights Reserved Interconnections of participant sub- teams and topics in an e-Deliberation: the synergy is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • 3. e-Deliberation™: A Decidedly Better Way to Solve Complex Business Problems With Your Team For more information or to book an e-Deliberation, contact info@e-Deliberation.com 3 | P a g e www.e-Deliberation.com
  • 4. Table of Contents An e-Deliberation™ White Paper................................................................................................................1 e-Deliberation™: A Decidedly Better Way to Solve Complex Business Problems and Achieve a Meeting of the Minds With Your Team......................................................................................................1 Executive Summary.....................................................................................................................................2 What is e-Deliberation™?.......................................................................................................................2 When to use e-Deliberation?....................................................................................................................2 Benefits....................................................................................................................................................2 How does it work?...................................................................................................................................2 Typical project rollout..............................................................................................................................2 Table of Contents.........................................................................................................................................4 Introduction..................................................................................................................................................1 Issues that e-Deliberation Resolves.............................................................................................................1 Change Management: Enabling Readiness for Action........................................................................2 Enabling Decisions of Sufficient Depth and Variety...........................................................................2 Improving the Effectiveness of Communication.................................................................................3 Sustaining Organizational Learning....................................................................................................3 Saving Time and Costs........................................................................................................................4 Types of Issues or Challenges Best Dealt With Through e-Deliberation............................................4 Summary..............................................................................................................................................5 How Does e-Deliberation Work? (Click for more information).................................................................5 The Rollout of an e-Deliberation Project (Click for more information)..................................................5 The Benefits and Investment Associated with e-Deliberation.....................................................................7 Conclusion...........................................................................................................................................8
  • 5. Introduction e-Deliberation is the leading collaborative deliberation platform available today. Its purpose is to help your organization solve the complex problems and issues it faces today. e-Deliberation is unique in that it supports your team get to the bottom of complex issues and resolve them using consent-based decision making. It creates a critical mass of united stakeholders who can make a difference. The e-Deliberation process makes innovative use of the online medium to bring groups of people together to explore, learn, debate and collaborate on developing a common understanding of issues and to make decisions effectively. This document introduces e-Deliberation by describing its context of use, its process and design, the outcomes and benefits you can expect from this technique, and the typical associated investment. Issues that e-Deliberation Resolves The task of leading and managing organizations has never been more complex. You are faced with ever- rising market, regulatory and stakeholder expectations and constraints. This section is an overview of how e-Deliberation helps leaders engage their teams to deal with these situations. Over the last one hundred years, the complexity of managing has increased exponentially. Organizations are no longer islands unto themselves – their every move is scrutinized by stakeholders who have high expectations in terms of sustainable footprints and economic performance. The world has become complex; issues are systemic, problems are said to be wicked. The structure of most organizations is predicated on the idea that decisions should flow downwards in the organization. This puts impossibly high expectations on top management to be omniscient and wise. Since the effect of hierarchical structures is to filter information on its way to the top, higher echelons of management are deprived of much of the information needed to make good decisions. If there were no such filter, top management would be overwhelmed by the wealth of information being fed to them. This structure inhibits the capability of organizations to be complex adaptive or antifragile, to thrive in a turbulent environment and to make best use of their intellectual and physical resources. The alternative – team-based decision making – does not have a good reputation, with good reason. We “know” that teams and committees are not good at effectively resolving issues. Indeed, the business of people meeting together is very messy. Personalities clash, ideas get lost, only one person can really talk at a time, only a few people actually say their piece, rank has more power than good ideas, etc. Not effective. e-Deliberation was invented to fix this problem. It is an online process that allows groups of people to work through issues and problems in a way that ensures that all available and relevant information is brought to bear. It uses a multi-faceted approach that effectively deals with the full complexity of the problem using the complementary expertise and experience of the selected participants. Decision making is consent-based so objections are explicitly surfaced and resolved by the team. In the end, the participants form a critical mass of persons ready to support and successfully implement what they have created and agreed to.
  • 6. e-Deliberation gives your organization the ability to mobilize across silos and tap the well of collective expertise, wisdom, collaboration and the goodwill of your employees and other stakeholders. It creates a bias for relevant and coordinated action. e-Deliberation provides the means to effect change, build capacity, and optimize systemic effectiveness. In the following paragraphs, e-Deliberation is analysed from the perspective of many of the prevalent issues faced by organizations today. Change Management: Enabling Readiness for Action Change management primarily addresses implementing change in a way that is not disruptive and in which people feel secure and knowledgeable about what is coming and, ideally, where they are in a welcoming state of mind. Issues often encountered in change management include: • Achieving consent for change: If enough people agree on impending change, the change will be seen as an idea whose time has come. e-Deliberation is designed to achieve a meeting of the minds through massive feedback loops and by ensuring that relevant ideas are widely circulated. We call it “idea reverberation.” Participants understand and agree on the basis for the conclusions they have wrought, and formally consent to them. • Enabling connection: Fostering consensus includes the notion that organizations are dynamic systems and that anything that happens in one area invariably affects other areas. e-Deliberation allows participation and input from all areas—up to 80 persons per event. The group understands the cross-organizational impacts, and enjoys the benefits of the particular expertise, insights and experience of each sector. • Achieving understanding: Understanding occurs when people share ideas; ideas enable perspectives to evolve. e-Deliberation is designed to process ideas, brainstorms and debates into a synthesis of complementary conclusions that support each other in view of the ultimate purpose or Focus of the deliberation. • Achieving critical mass for action: A key aspect of change management is to ensure strong support for change and a bias for action. The conclusions of an e-Deliberation event are outcomes of a significant number of people have consented to. These people form a critical mass to get the change implemented. The energy and drive is starkly different from situations in which decisions are handed across departmental lines or down the hierarchy. Enabling Decisions of Sufficient Depth and Variety Management is the business of managing complexity, or variety, as it is termed in cyberneticsi (Beer, 1981). If management policies and decisions lack variety, they will be unable to absorb the complexity of situations and requirements being thrown at them by the front line or the market. This leads to failed projects, frustrating and ineffective policies, disgruntled employees and lost customers. Inept decisions have many causes. The following list details strategies for addressing certain structural causes with e-Deliberation. • Breaking down the silos: Silo-based thinking is like not being able to see the forest for the trees. Local efficiencies are maximized at the expense of global performance and effectiveness. The needs of other silos within the organization are ignored, or worse, amplified by design (competitiveness and turf politics) or by inadvertence. With e-Deliberation, a spotlight is shone squarely on these issues to make way for a renewed understanding of systemic needs and cross-
  • 7. organizational impacts. This fosters intellectual honesty, responsibility for the whole, and a personal sense of accountability. • Considering all relevant aspects: Bad decisions often result from an incomplete consideration of all the relevant aspects of a problem. e-Deliberation’s unique design considers problems from a dozen separate perspectives to ensure the solutions found are relevant, and works hard at integrating these solutions into a strategy that everyone can buy into. The e-Deliberation process includes multiple feedback loops to ensure that nothing significant is overlooked. • Having access to expertise: To consider all the relevant aspects of an issue, you require access to the right expertise. In most organizations today it is rare that one person has the expertise to assess issues from all relevant perspectives, including financial, market-related, ecological, sustainability, technological and those related to social impacts. By establishing a cadre for effective large group investigation, e-Deliberation events provide a context for the right variety of expertise to be assembled and integrated into the deliberative process. Improving the Effectiveness of Communication Traditional modes of communication, whether face-to-face exchanges, conference calls or synchronous online chats, share common handicaps: The “stream of consciousness” of the conversation is necessarily limited. Only one person can talk at a time – otherwise a cacophony ensues. Ideas end up in blind alleys or are forgotten due to interruptions and multi-threading. What was said is rarely documented, and it is consequently difficult to go back and review for deeper understanding. These exchanges preclude deeper reflection, consideration or debate. A lot of time is wasted. • Resolving communication constraints: With e-Deliberation, most of the communication is in written form; inputs and exchanges between fellow deliberators are mediated with a visual user interface and jointly-authored texts. This form of exchange allows a more careful presentation of ideas and a deeper level of exchange and reflection. • Maintaining the organizational memory: Because e-Deliberation exchanges are written, the ideas presented and evolved over the course of the deliberation phases can be reviewed during or after the fact in order to understand the thought process and therefore the conclusions that emerged from it. This in turn supports consensus-building. • Good ideas reverberate: The design of the e-Deliberation process ensures that good ideas are kept alive and make it all the way to final consensus. This is inherent to the structure itself, in which any given participant collaborates in multiple sub-teams structured to ensure connection with virtually everyone in the group, coupled with massive feedback loops and polls feeding increasingly convergent debate and thought. Sustaining Organizational Learning Organizational silos are often also silos of expertise. Yet these silos of expertise all need to mesh for the appropriate conduct of business and effective conversations about the business of business. When the silos of expertise get in the way of effective communication, the organization is deprived of an immense opportunity. e-Deliberation is designed as a process to allow this elusive meshing to happen and unlock the potential for heretofore inaccessible synergies.
  • 8. • Bridging knowledge domains: The e-Deliberation process ensures the participants are highly interconnected as they deliberate their outcomes. Complementary expertise is available to tease out perspectives and achieve a common understanding. Knowledge and know-how is shared. Expertise flows without the barriers of silo inertia. Saving Time and Costs One major constraint on achieving a “meeting of the minds” is that the bodies usually have to accompany the minds on such a mission. Assembling your team at a central location to examine important issues can be very expensive and disruptive. The cost can be several thousands of dollars per participant. • Avoiding the logistics of face-to-face meetings: With e-Deliberation, your team can convene entirely online. This frees up all the time that would otherwise be lost to travel. It also means that participants do not have to give up their other activities and commitments for the duration of the e-Deliberation. This saves your participants and your organization a lot of stress. The cost savings associated with not having to transport, lodge and host people at a centralized location make the cost of holding an e-Deliberation event virtually insignificant. • Simplifying scheduling: e-Deliberation supports both synchronous (real-time) as well as asynchronous exchanges, resulting in considerable scheduling flexibility for the participants while staying on track of the process. Participants can contribute strategically to an e-Deliberation while remaining responsive to operational priorities in your organization. Types of Issues or Challenges Best Dealt With Through e-Deliberation e-Deliberation is not designed to help a small team of five or six colleagues come to terms with an issue that only affects them. More informal approaches are adequate in such cases because the number of people involved is small and the requisite expertise is typically “in the room.” However, issues that overflow the ability of a small team to resolve them quickly and internally become candidates for e-Deliberation. e-Deliberation is useful in such a context regardless of whether participants can meet in person or not, however we know that face-to-face meetings of more than seven or eight people are seldom productive. Issues for e-Deliberation typically include (but are not limited to): • Upgrading service delivery: How to best implement a new policy that has cross-organizational impacts and that changes the mode, process, or context of delivery • Introducing new products or services: How to design, validate, prototype, build/manufacture, launch and distribute/maintain a new product while ensuring all aspects of the total life cycle cost have been considered and optimized, and looking at sustainability, regulatory exigencies, etc. • Realigning processes: How to review, assess and optimize a key business process and implement the redesigned process successfully • Visioning: How to define the raison d’être of an organisation and envision its deployment in terms of the organization’s products and deliverables, its form, structure and its processes
  • 9. Summary e-Deliberation is the platform par excellence for teams to leverage the various types of expertise and capabilities in their organizations and associated stakeholders to solve difficult problems or embrace new opportunities. A leader who brings e-Deliberation to the organizational toolbox is exercising an unparalleled act of leadership by providing his or her organization with the means to engage large numbers of stakeholders in defining innovative, consent-based, inclusive, rich and feasible solutions to the challenges and issues they face. How Does e-Deliberation Work? (Click for more information) e-Deliberation is an online process for guiding teams to collaborate and work together to address difficult challenges, “wicked problems,” and multi-faceted situations. It is an inclusive process designed to ensure that no relevant information or perspectives are lost from discovery to final consensual decision-making. The design of the solution is multi-faceted yet explicitly integrated to form a sustainable whole. It is a practise that creates a deeply-held meeting of the minds, buy-in regarding innovation and change, and a critical mass to make it happen. By design, e-Deliberation makes full use of the opportunities afforded by the online medium while avoiding the drawbacks associated with physically bringing together groups of people. e-Deliberation events have fixed start and end dates and allow both synchronous and asynchronous participation according to individual schedules. The e-Deliberation process is an online adaptation of a face-to-face deliberation methodology called Team Syntegrity developed in the ‘70s and 80s by Stafford Beer, an organizational cyberneticist, and published in 1994ii . Team Syntegrity has been successfully used for face-to-face group deliberations in Europe, Africa and North America. Inspired by the self-supporting design of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, Beer reasoned that a democratic forum had to ensure massive interconnection between participants and the means to “reverberate” information through designed feedback loops to ensure all important perspectives are considered. The chief architect of the e-Deliberation platform is Jean-Daniel Cusin. Mr. Cusin has over 25 years of experience designing and implementing organizational change in a variety of industrial organizations, usually in the context of implementing enterprise systems and the attendant business process optimization. His graduate research at Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC led him to conclude on the feasibility of migrating the Team Syntegrity process to the online environment and thereby leverage the opportunities of the Internet for better governance and effective team decision-making. While the original design of Team Syntegrity was for 30 participants, e-Deliberation offers flexibility for teams of between 15 and 80 participants. The Rollout of an e-Deliberation Project (Click for more information) As with any project that involves a number of participants, an e-Deliberation requires a minimum of planning to ensure that the right resources are invited and motivated, their participation is ensured, and there is an organizational context to receive the outcomes of the process. The following steps are usually associated with a successful event:
  • 10. 1. Recognition of the need for change: The case is made to plan an e-Deliberation event to the organization at large and to the targeted participants. The drivers for change are identified and interpreted as potential organizational impacts. Usually the drivers come from the competitive environment, regulatory decrees, or a policy or vision proposed by higher management. A Project Sponsor is designated or will volunteer. 2. Participant selection: A cross-selection of potential participants is made. The goal is to bring together the appropriate types of expertise, informal leadership, and other stakeholders who will be impacted by the change and who need to endorse it. Often community referencing is used to see who should be delegated based on their expertise or the trust and respect they attract. These people tend to be those who are trusted by their peers to work out the best deliberation outcomes. 3. Participant briefing: To be accepted into the e-Deliberation, participants must confirm their ability to schedule their participation for one to three hours a day for the duration of the process. The overall duration depends on the e-Deliberation process variant selected and the daily commitment. If the event were held face to face, it would probably last three to four days, or 24 to 30 working hours. These same hours will need to be invested online, but they will be spread over a number of days, allowing participants to keep up with the rest of their commitments. The briefing also includes an introduction to the e-Deliberation process, what to expect, and what is expected of participants. This can be done face to face and/or online. 4. Launch of the e-Deliberation: The kick-off of the event is done by the Project Sponsor. In summary, the full e-Deliberation process consists of the following phases: a. Establish the e-Deliberation Focus: Determine clearly what is to be achieved as a result of the e-Deliberation (the Focus). Background materials are assembled and made available to ensure everyone is briefed on the context. b. Set the e-Deliberation agenda: The participants brainstorm as many perspectives they can come up with to establish the backdrop of the event and its problem / opportunity space. These will then inspire a number of provocative, novel or exciting proposals which, with sufficient group endorsement, become the various topics that are examined, debated and harmonized as facets of addressing the Focus of the e-Deliberation. c. Three waves of deliberation: The participants are assigned to teams based on their topic preferences, and the teams deliberate each of these topics. Individual participants work in several teams to ensure synergy in the parts and in the whole. The figure to the right illustrates the structure of a 30 member e-Deliberation event. The 12 circles represent the topics, the 30 lines, the participants. Each participant acts as a deliberator in two topics, and each topic has 5 deliberators. Not shown is that each participant also provides feedback to two other topic teams, ensuring massive interconnections throughout all the topics and an ongoing flow of ideas. Interconnections of participants and topics in an e- Deliberation: the synergy is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • 11. The deliberation executes in three waves. At the end of each wave, each topic team produces an Outcome Resolve statement. Each wave is punctuated by a consent poll where each participant gives feedback to each team in terms of consent and paramount objections. This ample feedback ensures team-to-group alignment so that by the time the third wave of deliberation is completed, the conclusions of each of the teams are well integrated, supported and ready for implementation. The group itself represents a critical mass in agreement, and is engaged for action. The process unfolds using a web browser, so it can be entirely conducted online or in person using the web browser to circulate the information. The website is hosted on a dedicated secure server in a world class data center located in Montreal, Canada. This site includes facilities for document sharing and editing, brainstorming, scheduling, etc. Participants use tools they are likely already familiar with, but also use a specific, proven methodology to achieve effective outcomes. The degree of confidentiality of the e-Deliberation content is defined according to the wishes of the organization and the participants. In most business organizations, the subject matter is treated with complete confidentiality and all exchanges are encrypted. 5. Transmittal of the e-Deliberation outcomes to the organization: At the close of the e-Deliberation, the Outcome Resolves are, by design, interdependent, integrated, and ensure a full treatment of the e-Deliberation Focus. Depending on the nature of the topic, this may be accompanied by an implementation plan. How and when these Outcome Resolves are transmitted to the organization must carefully be orchestrated to allow the enthusiasm and commitment of the participants to be communicated to the rest of the organization, and to foster organizational acceptance of the conclusions. The Benefits and Investment Associated with e-Deliberation The earlier section, Issues that e-Deliberation Resolves, introduces some of the benefits of e-Deliberation. e-Deliberation is designed to help organizations develop rich solutions to the complex challenges and issues you need to deal with today, while fostering consensual stakeholder support for the implementation of these solutions. e-Deliberation leverages Internet technologies that were not commonly available even five years ago to give organizations the ability to grapple with tough issues successfully. It is now possible to access the creativity and expertise of large groups of people without having to move them physically to a central location. The investment associated with the setting up, hosting and facilitating of an e-Deliberation is about 20% of the cost of mobilizing everyone to a central location for a face-to-face event. A further saving: this does not include the indirect costs associated with disrupting individual professional and personal schedules for a number of days. The e-Deliberation process is designed to be inclusive and effective, which translates to a tangible bottom-line effect: the cost avoidance associated with dealing with issues competently and having a critical mass of people who support the recommended changes and are ready for action.
  • 12. Conclusion In terms of direct costs, holding an e-Deliberation event costs a fraction of the price of holding an equivalent event face to face in a centralized location. It also eliminates the perturbations associated with losing many of the organization’s key personnel for a three to four day period. e-Deliberation transforms strategic issue management by helping your stakeholders work out complex issues and solve them. It creates a competitive advantage for any company that is ready to make a leap forward. Contact us at info@e-deliberation.com for more information and to book you e-Deliberation event.
  • 13. i Beer, S. (1981) Brain of the Firm. West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Son. ii Beer, S. (1994). Beyond Dispute: The Invention of Team Syntegrity. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons. e-Deliberation™ is a trademark of e-Deliberation.com Inc. © 2011-2012 All rights reserved. www.e-Deliberation.com