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Spectrum of Processes for Collaboration and Consensus-Building in Public Decisions


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Mediation, Consensus Building, and Facilitation
Ona Ferguson
Chris Kluchman
Shiona Sommerville

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Spectrum of Processes for Collaboration and Consensus-Building in Public Decisions

  1. 1. SPECTRUM OF PROCESSES FOR COLLABORATION AND CONSENSUS-BUILDING IN PUBLIC DECISIONS1EXPLORE/INFORM CONSULT ADVISE DECIDE IMPLEMENTOutcomes2• Improved understanding ofissues, process, etc.• Lists of concerns• Information needs identified• Explore differing perspectives• Build relationships• Comments on draftpolicies• Suggestions forapproaches• Priorityconcerns/issues• Discussion of options• Call for action• Consensus or majorityrecommendations, onoptions, proposals oractions, often directed topublic entities• Consensus-basedagreements amongagencies and constituentgroups on policies,lawsuits or rules• Multi-party agreementsto implementcollaborative action andstrategic plansSampleProcesses• Focus Groups• Conferences• Open houses• Dialogues• Roundtable Discussions• Forums• Summits• Public meetings• Workshops• Charettes• Town Hall Meetings (w& w/o deliberativepolls)• Community Visioning• Scoping meetings• Public Hearings• Dialogues• Advisory Committees• Task Forces• Citizen Advisory Boards• Work Groups• Policy Dialogues• Visioning Processes• Regulatory Negotiation• Negotiated settlement oflawsuits, permits,cleanup plans, etc.• Consensus meetings• Mediated negotiations• Collaborative Planningprocesses• Partnerships for Action• Strategic PlanningCommittees• ImplementationCommitteesUseWhen• Early in projects when issuesare under development• When broad public educationand support are needed• When stakeholders see needto connect, but are wary• Want to test proposalsand solicit public andstakeholder ideas• Want to explorepossibility of joint actionbefore committing to it• Want to developagreement amongvarious constituencies onrecommendations, e.g. topublic officials• Want certainty ofimplementation for aspecific public decision• Conditions are there forsuccessful negotiation• Want to developmeaningful on-goingpartnership to solve aproblem of mutualconcern• To implement jointstrategic actionConditionsforSuccess• Participants will attend• There are questions orproposals for comment• Affected groups and/orthe public are willing toparticipate• Can represent broadspectrum of affectedgroups• Players agree to devotetime• Can represent allaffected interests andpotential “blockers”• All agree upfront toimplement results, incl.“sponsor”• Time, information,incentives andresources are availablefor negotiation• Participants agree tosupport the goal for theeffort• Participants agree toinvest time andresources• Conditions exist forsuccessful negotiations1Developed by Suzanne Orenstein, Lucy Moore, and Susan Sherry, members of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Future of Collaboration andConsensus on Public Issues, in consideration of and inspiration from the spectra developed by International Association for Public Involvement( and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation( ).2While all types of processes have intrinsic value on their own, those on the right side of the spectrum tend to include early phases akin tothose on the left side and those on the left side often support participants in moving to next steps akin to those on the right side.
  2. 2. Mediation, Consensus Building and Facilitation Massachusetts Association of Planning Directors 2011 Conference  New Bedford, MA June 9, 2011 Communication  o Understand the importance of this “basic” skill  Sources of Land Use Disputes o What issues underlie disputes for planners?   Key Mediation and Negotiation Concepts o Interests and Positions • Where does getting out interests get you?   • Can generate lots of options, trade and share interests, bigger pie, identity and core concerns (acknowledgement, autonomy, status, etc.) o BATNA Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (also BATMA, … Mediated Agreement) Importance in knowing yours and other parties’ Testing how realistic BATNA(s) are in a conversation Sets a basis for an agreement o Neutrality Should planners be neutral?  Why or why not? When is it appropriate to be neutral?   Challenges to maintaining neutrality? e.g.., AICP ethics – role is to focus on the public good Benefits to identifying the right person to help engage people (staff, community member, professional) o Personal Biases Acknowledge that there is a content/relationship tension  Why does that matter in your work? • Your inclination influences the scope of the work/discussion with the public & others  Choosing the Right Process o Range of different types of collaboration processes (see chart on back) o Common Objections to collaboration and how to respond  Contact Information Ona Ferguson, Senior Associate, the Consensus Building Institute, 617‐844‐1127,   Chris Kluchman, Town Planner, Town of Westford, 978‐692‐5524,   Shiona Sommerville,