objective is simple: ‘Better decision-making’. The
only issue is that there are so many different views over what
we mean by ‘better’. At the core of all decision-making
is the need to balance Power with Responsibility, as the vehicle
for resolving the ‘better’ question. This article
explores why that is so difficult? It also argues that exploring
the concept of Wisdom can provide invaluable insights into how
to achieve the most effective balance between Power and Responsibility,
which is central to what our values mean in practice, as well
as how we incorporate ethics into our decision-making.
2003, four international aide organizations came together to pool
the numerous lessons learned in their collective experience using
dialogue processes in their pursuits of peacemaking, development
and democratic governance worldwide. These participating organizations
were the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
(IDEA), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Their intention in this collaboration was to distill best practices
from their very wide variety of experiences and, as a result,
to provide a user-friendly methodological tool for dialogue practitioners
-- that is, for people actively or potentially engaged in organizing,
facilitating or promoting dialogue within their own institutions
The resulting Handbook from this endeavor addresses basic questions
about democratic dialogue: Why is it needed? What is it, exactly?
and How does it contribute to positive change? In addition, it
offers different ways of doing things and guidance around a wider
range of approaches and tools. We include here both the full
text of the Handbook and an excerpt
of three chapters describing dialogue-in-use. The excerpt
includes three vividly illustrated examples of applications of
dialogue processes: A regional dialogue organized by the OAS in
San Mateo Ixtatan, Guatemala; a country dialogue sponsored by
UNDP in Mauritania; and an International IDEA democracy-building
project in Nepal.
Finlayson's life's calling has been about personal and organizational
transformation, the creative process, and how groups in the workplace
might find together their greater potential. His inquiry
led him to adapt the Junkanoo festival, central to life in the
Bahamas, to the life of organizations. Read about the fruits
of his efforts in Festival
in the Workplace.
Scharmer introduces readers to the theory and practice of the
U process, based on a concept he calls “presencing.”
A blend of the words “presence” and “sensing,”
presencing signifies a heightened state of attention that allows
individuals and groups to shift the inner place from which they
function. When that shift happens, people begin to operate from
a future space of possibility that they feel wants to emerge.
Being able to facilitate that shift is, according to Scharmer,
the essence of leadership today.
2002, at the height of political, economic and social crisis in
Argentina and in an atmosphere of national fatalism, a group of
Argentines decided to try a new, more open approach for moving
forward. A small group of citizens, with the support of the government,
the Catholic Church, and the United Nations Development Programme,
launched a process they called “Argentine Dialogue,”
a series of multi-stakeholder conversations. They brought together
hundreds of leaders from all parts of society in a series of roundtables,
to talk about the crisis, to make proposals, and to act. Adam
Kahane, invited to join a team of facilitators, describes
his own and the group’s experience with these dialogues.
From his later return to Argentina, Adam offers insightful observations
of the qualitative shift in outlook, consciousness and actions
that resulted. Included here is an excerpt
from Adam Kahane’s book.
Leverage Points to Intervene in and Influence a System
systems analyst, journalist, writer, teacher and farmer has been
a major influence in the lives and understanding of many active
practitioners in the emerging field of Collective Wisdom. As a systems
analyst, she observed that there are “levers” or places
within a complex system (such as a firm, a city, a family, an economy,
living being, an ecosystem, an ecoregion) where a “small shift
in one thing can produce big changes in everything”. These
she described as “leverage points”. She developed a
leverage points, i.e., places to intervene in a system with
increasing influence. Awareness and manipulation of these levers
is an aspect of self-organization and can lead to collective intelligence.
We include here a link to The
Donella Meadows Archive: Voice of a Global Citizen, 15 years
of essays published as the award winning bi-weekly Global
Citizen newspaper column.
Regan describes innocence in organizations as our inability
to hold the opposites and to “lean into” what makes
us most uncomfortable. She examines what it is, in ourselves and
our organizations, that we have been “rushing away from.”
In an exploration full of kindness and insight, she probes deep
into what generates collective learning and wisdom in groups and
how individuals can provide leadership for this difficult process.
She offers us a way to hold the opposites while pursuing social
action that is meaningful and grounded in real life.
Zubizarreta's thoughtful paper explores ways in which we can
engage the full possibilities of democracy, to awaken our collective
wisdom and facilitate the unfolding of our social potential. Both
knowledgeable and comprehensive, this paper links the reader to
many inspiring thinkers and leading edge experiments in the "creative
engagement with diversity" in the political realm. It offers
hope and encouragement in a time of despair about a peaceful future
for our world. This paper is intended to seed a further conversation.
Svendsen and Myriam
Laberge, both of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC,
Canada, describe how collective wisdom contributed to finding
sustainable solutions to an entrenched conflict between a multi-national
logging company, environmental advocacy groups, and First Nations
in their area. Going beyond consensus building and conflict resolution,
the parties engaged with each other in a way that fostered and
supported collective inquiry, learning and innovation. For further
articles, please see Co-Creative
Stakeholder Engagement Model. See also Co-Creative
Stakeholder Engagement Workshop.