Additional Readings by bethmorrow

VIEWS: 268 PAGES: 19

									                         Searching for Solutions
                   Readings on facilitated processes
             for complex and conflicted public policy issues
Most people are familiar with Mediation and other dispute resolution processes, but they think
of them primarily as a way to deal with private conflicts, not public policy issues. The following
readings suggest that some of the same principles to guide good conflict resolution between
individuals have been adapted successfully and applied to public policy problems.

The first article is written by two former governors, one Republican and one Democrat, who
experimented successfully with collaborative, facilitated processes to engage some very tough
policy conflicts. The second suggests that “collaborative” processes are nothing new;
government tries to engage stakeholders old time. What is different and new is the use of
"facilitated processes," complete with transparent ground rules and facilitators whose role is
similar to that of a mediator in a private conflict. The next two articles explain how these
facilitated processes work and why. The last, written by Larry Spears, contains a list of issues
that need to be addressed in order to set up and carry out a policy consensus process. The
same issues will need to be addressed for any facilitated process. – Roger Conner

Gridlock impossible at ‘kitchen table’
     James E. Geringer and John A Kitzhaber
     Christian Science Monitor                             1
Introduction: The Present Problem of Governing
   Policy Consensus Initiative                             4
Understanding the Spectrum of Collaborative
     Governance Practices
     Policy Consensus Initiative                           7
Finding Winning Solutions – The Art and Science of
     Good Governance
     Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker                     10
Meetings of the Minds,
     Alan Ehrenhalt, Governing Magazine                    13
Policy Consensus, facilitated process for complex
     problems with multiple stakeholders
     Larry Spears                                          15
Sources on the Web
    Policy Consensus Initiative
    Search for Common Ground
    (c) Christian Science Monitor. Click here for original


                              Page 1
Page 2
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                 (c) Policy Consensus Initiative


The Present Problem                                           A Type I problem is like a patient with a broken leg,
                                                              Heifetz says. It has a clear definition and a clear solution.
with Governing                                                In these cases, the doctor takes the primary responsibility
If you think governing is more challenging than it used to    for diagnosing and solving the problem. In the policy
be, you’re not alone. There is a growing recognition that     world, a leader can address or resolve a straightforward
it takes more than government, or any other one sector        Type I issue alone, based on his or her knowledge and
acting alone, to address many of today’s public policy        authority.
issues—intractable issues such as health care, homeland       A Type II problem—for example, a patient with heart
security, immigration, poverty, and crime. Consider the       disease—Heifetz says, has a clear definition, but respon-
following real-world examples:                                sibility for the solution needs to be shared between the
•	   A	state	needs	to	develop	plans	and	strategies	for	       doctor and the patient. The doctor can prescribe, but the
     managing	and	communicating	in	emergencies.	              patient has to exercise, change his or her diet, and reduce
     Such	management	and	communication	
                                                              stress. With a Type II public problem, a public leader or
     must	take	place	across	different	levels	of	
     government	and	must	include	businesses,	                 manager must engage those involved in the problem in a          
     schools,	hospitals,	and	many	other	groups.               process of solving the problem together.
•	   A	city	struggles	to	deal	with	growing	traffic	           A Type III problem, such as a patient with chronic
     congestion	and	air	emissions	in	the	face	of	             fatigue syndrome, requires the doctor and patient to work
     ongoing	development	and	lack	of	funding	
                                                              together, Heifetz says, both to define the problem and
     for	transportation	infrastructure.
                                                              to test various solutions until they find what works. The
•	   A	region	seeks	to	muster	the	resources	to	address	       cause or causes of the illness are not easily identified, and
     issues	of	community	development,	access	to	
     jobs,	affordable	housing,	and	health	care	in	
                                                              no specific diagnostic tests are available. In fact, manag-
     distressed	neighborhoods	and	rural	areas.                ing the symptoms will require lifestyle changes that are
                                                              more the responsibility of the patient than the doctor.
In addition to these types of complex societal problems,
                                                              Given a public issue of this nature—say, a community
demands on public and private resources are increasing,
                                                              that is losing its economic base—a leader will need
political polarization and gridlock are worsening, our
                                                              to involve members of the community to address the
population is growing more diverse, and citizens increas-
ingly expect to have a say in public issues.
                                                              More and more of today’s public issues—including, for
At the same time, governmental jurisdictions and
                                                              example, reforming education or health care—are Type
traditional decision-making processes established over
                                                              II and III problems. Heifetz calls these adaptive problems.
the past 200 years have remained essentially static. Public
                                                              Adaptive problems are not well defined, the answers are
leaders and managers often don’t have the power or
                                                              not known, and many different stakeholders are affected,
authority they need to address issues or resolve crucial
                                                              each with their own perspectives. even when a solution
problems. And many have discovered that top-down,
                                                              to an adaptive problem is discovered, rarely does anyone
unilateral decision making simply does not result in
                                                              have the authority to impose it on everyone else. Clearly,
comprehensive, lasting solutions.
                                                              adaptive problems pose particular challenges for public
As Ron Heifetz describes in Leadership Without Easy           leaders, and require nontraditional responses.
Answers (1998), today’s problems call for leaders to
                                                              These kinds of problems and issues call for leaders to
play their roles differently. Heifetz, who is a physician,
                                                              serve in a new role – as conveners, bringing people
co-founded the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s
                                                              together from various interests and perspectives, to work
Kennedy School of Government. He suggests that public
                                                              together, bringing their knowledge and resources to the
leaders face three kinds of problems, which are analogous
                                                              table to address the issues. Conveners do not impose
to three kinds of problems doctors face. He also explains
                                                              the solutions, rather they get people involved in finding
how leaders need to think about their roles in involving
                                                              effective solutions together. This role provides leaders
the public to address these problems.

                                                      Page 4
    with the opportunity to “take action without taking
    sides.” You’ll learn more about how leaders can play this           When it comes to working together with the
    role most effectively in Chapter 6.                                 other side, I think, as I’ve said earlier, that
                                                                        I have learned my lessons in 2005, and I
    The Solution: Collaboration and                                     have learned it the hard way, because we had
    Collaborative Governance                                            some great initiatives, and we went out and
    In the public realm, adaptive problems call for a kind of           went about it the wrong way.
    adaptive, collaborative governance that enables people to           It was not an inclusive approach. It was kind
    combine their knowledge and resources and reach inte-
                                                                        of like setting a deadline, saying, “If you
    grative solutions. Such collaboration enables individuals
                                                                        don’t work with us in two months from now,
    to come together across governmental, sectoral, and
    organizational boundaries—i.e., from multiple branches
                                                                        we’re going to go directly to the people.” And
    and levels of government, the private sector, and the               it became kind of us versus them. And that’s
    nonprofit sector, along with private citizens. Addressing           the wrong approach.
    adaptive problems in this requires new forums in which              The approach that we always have to take is
    these diverse parties can work together. Often it is neces-         to be inclusive and to bring all the stakehold-
    sary to create a neutral forum, a space where participants          ers in, which we are doing, for instance,
    feel assured that the process will be conducted in a fair           this year with health care. We bring all the
    and unbiased fashion. Chapter 5 elaborates on how lead-
                                                                        stakeholders in. And this is why there have
    ers can address this important consideration.
                                                                        been no fights. There have been no attacks. I

    new governance structures and mechanisms to support                 mean, no name calling or anything like this.
    cross-sector collaboration are especially important when            So I think that I’ve learned from that, and
    traditional forums cannot or will not undertake to do so.
                                                                        I’m a quick learner.
    In order to collaborate in problem solving, decision mak-
    ing, and implementation, new governance structures and                     Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
    tools are needed that enable agencies and organizations                    News Hour PBS, June22, 2007
    to overcome the barriers to cross-sector collaboration.
    This Guide addresses all the various aspects of collabora-      We at the Policy Consensus Initiative believe collabora-
    tion, including the development of new collaborative            tive governance practices need to be employed more
    governance structures. But first, some definitions are in       widely if today’s leaders are to effectively address the
    order.                                                          challenges faced by society. We have uncovered some
    Collaboration is a catch-all term used to describe vari-        important insights and lessons about what it takes to col-
    ous processes that bring people together across sectors         laborate effectively to get to solutions. We have identi-
    through various forms of public engagement to address           fied and studied how innovative leaders can convene
    policy issues. Such processes may also be known as              people from across diverse sectors to work together.
    consensus building, conflict resolution, policy dialogue, and   And we have looked at what it takes to create the kinds
    joint problem solving, among many other terms.                  of mechanisms necessary to overcome the barriers to
                                                                    collaboration presented by traditional structures and
    Most recently, the term collaborative governance has
    gained traction. Collaborative governance includes a
    variety of processes in which all sectors—public, private,      The objective of this guide is to use these lessons to equip
    and civic—are convened to work together to achieve              more leaders—present and future, in the public, private,
    solutions to public problems that go beyond what any            and civic sectors—with the information and tools they
    sector could achieve on its own.                                need to bring about better governance through the use of
                                                                    collaborative practices.
    The concept of using collaborative processes to resolve
    intractable public problems has been around since the
    1970s. Over the past 30 years, collaboration has proven
                                                                    Roles Leaders Play in
    effective in resolving difficult adaptive problems. It has      Collaborative Processes
    evolved and been refined during that time, yet unfor-           Leaders who initiate collaborative approaches to gover-
    tunately is still not used as widely as it should be. Too       nance must decide what role or roles they want to play
    many leaders resort automatically to traditional modes          in such a process. They may serve as sponsors, conveners,
    of decision making and are daunted by the concept of            facilitators, and/or participants. Sometimes leaders can

                                                     Page 5
double up on these roles, and sometimes that is not advis-     assistance is available from university centers, extension
able. A leader’s role is usually determined by the nature of   services, institutes of government and other institutions
the issue, the situation, and the relationships among the      and organizations who subscribe to professional standards
parties.                                                       of impartiality and best practice and who offer leaders
The sponsor is an individual who initiates a collaborative     help with processes to address difficult public issues.
process and provides or secures support for it, financial
and otherwise. The sponsor is often a leader within an         How this Guide Is Organized
agency, civic organization, public-private coalition, or       Several of the chapters in this Guide focus on these roles
foundation.                                                    and what is entailed in carrying them out. Other chapters
The sponsor needs to be able to work hand in hand with         provide straightforward how-tos on the key steps and
other participants to reach a successful outcome. When         stages of collaborative processes. each chapter is preceded
also playing the role of participant, the sponsor serves       by a case study that illustrates the points elaborated upon
as liaison between his or her organization’s leadership,       in that chapter.
the process, and other participants. To be successful,         The chapter topics are as follows:
the sponsor-participant must lead by example, by being
                                                               	 1.	Understanding	the	spectrum	of	
open-minded, flexible, and willing to listen and learn              collaborative	processes	
during the process.
                                                               	 2.		Identifying	when	collaborative	processes	
While a sponsor may successfully take part as a stake-               will	work	and	when	they	won’t	
holder-participant, the dual roles of sponsor-convener         	 3.		Sponsoring	a	collaborative	process
and sponsor-facilitator may be more problematic.               	 4.		Conducting	an	assessment	                               
The convener is a person who, by virtue of their office,       	 5.		Choosing	and	using	a	neutral	forum	and	facilitator
leadership skills, and reputation for trust and credibility,
                                                               	 6.		Identifying	and	working	with	a	convener
can get all of the differing, or even competing, interests
                                                               	 7.		Ensuring	legitimacy	for	the	process	
to come to the table and work together. A former elected
                                                                     through	inclusive	participation
official or civic leader who is known as fair-minded and
                                                               	 8.		Planning	and	organizing	the	process
good at listening and communicating effectively with
people from all sides of an issue is likely to be a success-   	 9.		Developing	ground	rules	to	guide	the	process
ful convener. Generally, when an elected or respected          	 0.	Conducting	problem	solving	discussions	
leader convenes a meeting, people from across the board             and	reaching	consensus	agreements
are willing to come. The convener can’t advocate for           1
                                                               	 1.	Creating	mechanisms	for	implementation	
a particular outcome, however, or favor one side or                 and	on-going	collaboration	
another, and keep people with diverse interests working        note that this Guide covers only the basics of collabora-
toward a solution. This role can conflict with the role of     tive governance. Many other publications discuss one
the sponsor if the sponsor seeks to promote a particular       or more of the above topics in greater detail; see the
solution.                                                      resource list at the back of the Guide for suggestions. My
The facilitator is a neutral third party who helps assess,     hope is that readers will find this Guide a good place to
plan, organize, and manage the collaboration process,          start.
and who runs the meetings. He or she needs to be able to
maintain impartiality and accountability with all partici-
pants to effectively and credibly assist groups in working
together to achieve their objectives. The facilitator plays
an important role in establishing and maintaining a safe
environment for participants and a positive tone for the
If a sponsor has an obligation to advocate for a particular
view or outcome, it may be difficult for him or her to also
credibly serve as the facilitator. At the same time, the
complexity of the issue, the number of parties, and the
parties’ past history may make it desirable for a skilled,
impartial facilitator to manage the process. Skilled

                                                       Page 6
                  Policy Consensus Initiative -

Leaders today increasingly recognize that, if progress is to              Engage
be made on difficult issues, citizens need to be involved in              The next point on the spectrum is typically called
discussing and/or making decisions on those issues in one                 “involvement,” but we prefer the term and concept of
way or another. In fact, public leaders need citizens to be               “engagement.” Much window dressing is being done in
engaged, in order to gain legitimacy for policy decisions.                the name of “public involvement.” It is often undertaken
And more and more, citizens have come to expect that                      by agencies and companies when they have no intention
will be the case.                                                         of acting on the results, but want to be able to say that
But how should citizens become involved? A number                         they have listened to or consulted with the public. Of
of options exist. Indeed, there is a whole spectrum of                    late, “engagement” has become the more popular term
collaborative governance processes that involve bringing                  among those who advocate for more direct and genuine
people together to discuss or resolve public issues. At                   citizen participation. engagement implies a more active,
one end of the spectrum are processes that simply inform                  intentional partnership between the general public
the public. next are processes that consult the public,                   and leaders. The objective is to actively engage citizens
followed by those that in some way involve or engage                      in proposing solutions to difficult problems, choosing
the pubic. At the far end of the spectrum with the most                   priorities, or providing feedback. This kind of public
impact are those processes with a goal to collaborate with                participation is more active than information exchange
the public by having them take part in decision making.                   or consultation; however, engagement does not involve
                                                                          sharing decision-making power, as often happens in the
Points on the Spectrum                                                    collaborative processes discussed below.
Let’s look at the four main points on the spectrum of                     In general, the use of public participation processes has
collaborative governance processes in a bit more detail.                  grown markedly since the 1960s, when laws began requir-
                                                                          ing government to ensure “maximum feasible participa-
                                                                          tion.” Over time there has been a shift from information
In information-exchange processes, government leaders                     exchange to consultation and then to public involve-
or staff members meet with representatives from the                       ment, and now to processes that focus on engaging
private and civic sectors, as well as individual citizens,                citizens through various kinds of dialogue and delibera-
to give them information or obtain information from                       tion. The purposes of this broader public engagement are
them. This approach can be a useful way for leaders to                    to enlarge perspectives, opinions, and understandings.
get reactions to proposals, gain insight into the public’s                Advocates of public engagement emphasize the value
viewpoints, and help allay controversies due to misinfor-                 of an active partnership between citizens and decision
mation.                                                                   makers. They believe it is worthwhile for citizens—not
                                                                          just experts and politicians—to be actively involved in
                                                                          deliberation over public issues (Lukensmeyer and Torres
Leaders can use consultative meetings or committees                       2006).
to gain feedback, advice, or input from a broad array
                                                                          A variety of models have been developed for this kind
of stakeholders. This can be done on a one-time or
                                                                          of citizen engagement. The Deliberative Democracy
on-going basis. Consultation provides leaders with a way
                                                                          Consortium has created a matrix of these different
to gather technical or scientific information for improved
                                                                          methods; they include Study Circles, America Speaks,
decisions. It can also be used to identify data needs
                                                                          the Public Conversations Project, national Issues
and/or policy options. Sponsors can use this approach to
                                                                          Forums, and others. each of these models has its own
stimulate joint thinking, while explicitly reserving their
                                                                          purpose and methodology, and each produces somewhat
decision-making prerogative.
                                                                          different results.3

 This spectrum was developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and is used with permission.
For more information see

                                                              Page 7
     Policy Consensus Initiative -
     Collaborate                                                  •	   Transparency	and	Accountability:	Discussions	
                                                                       should	take	place	in	the	public	eye.	When	
     Collaborative processes—which are the main focus of               agreements	are	reached,	mechanisms	
     this Guide—seek consensus recommendations from the                must	exist	to	ensure	that	parties	follow	
     public or stakeholders and/or invite shared responsibility        through	on	their	commitments.
     in decision making as well as in implementation. The         •	   Equity	and	Inclusiveness:	Diverse	interests	
     development and implementation of the Florida building            and	all	who	are	needed	to	work	on	the	
     code described in this chapter’s case study is a good             issues	must	be	present	or	represented.
     illustration of how collaborative decision making can        •	   Effectiveness	and	Efficiency:	Good	
     operate alongside traditional democratic processes.               processes	must	be	designed	to	produce	
                                                                       outcomes	that	make	practical	sense.
     To collaborate means to “co-labor,” to work together
                                                                  •	   Responsiveness:	Public	concerns	need	
     to achieve common goals. The term is being used more
                                                                       to	be	authentically	addressed.
     and more frequently as the need for greater teamwork
                                                                  •	   Forum	Neutrality:	The	process	should	be	
     and cooperation to solve today’s problems has become
                                                                       conducted	impartially,	in	an	atmosphere	in	
     evident in business and government. Wikipedia defines             which	participants	share	responsibility	for	setting	
     collaboration as a word used “abstractly” to apply to all         ground	rules	and	generating	outcomes.	
     processes wherein people work together. The term is          •	   Consensus-Based	Decision	Making:	This	
     often used indistinguishably from cooperation, coor-              principle	applies	only	to	collaborative	decision-
     dination, and even communication, but this muddles                making	processes	in	which	decisions	are	made	
     important distinctions. Arthur Himmelman, one of the              through	consensus	rather	than	majority	rule.
     first people to describe how collaboration differs from
0   other processes, said, “When organizations (or individu-     What Consensus Means
     als) collaborate they share risks, responsibilities, and     Consensus is the desired way of making decisions in col-
     rewards each of which contributes to enhancing each          laborative processes. Consensus is different from voting.
     other’s capacity to achieve a common purpose” (2002).        It involves gaining broad agreement from participants.
     This requires a different level of effort and engagement     After all, the purpose of bringing people together in
     that goes beyond what it takes to simply cooperate or        a collaborative process is to gain the widest possible
     coordinate.                                                  agreement, so that all those involved will carry out the
     no two collaborative processes are exactly alike. Some       agreement and follow through on their commitments.
     are short, involving a few meetings during which people      Most groups define consensus in a way that acknowledges
     work to achieve their objectives and then disband. Oth-      that participants support the decision, or at least can “live
     ers go on for months or years. Increasingly, when issues     with it,” and that implementation can move forward.
     require an integration of resources and shared decision      The following is a standard formulation of consensus:
     making and implementation, a collaborative group itself
                                                                  “The group will make its decisions and recommendations
     may become the structure or mechanism through which
                                                                  based on the consensus of its members. The group will
     on-going problem solving and implementation occurs.
                                                                  reach consensus on an issue when it finally agrees upon a
     Over the past ten years, we have seen growing use of
                                                                  single alternative and each member can honestly say:
     these sorts of on-going structures—for example, in the
     form of watershed councils and adaptive management           •	   I	believe	that	other	members	
                                                                       understand	my	point	of	view,
                                                                  •	   I	believe	I	understand	other	
     While this Guide focuses on collaborative consensus-              members’	points	of	view,	and
     building processes, it will also address how and when
                                                                  •	   Whether	or	not	I	prefer	this	decision,	I	support	
     to link such processes with broader public engagement             it	because	it	was	arrived	at	openly	and	fairly	
     processes.                                                        and	it	is	the	best	solution	for	us	at	this	time.”
                                                                  This definition does not mean unanimity of thought or
     The Principles of                                            abandonment of values. Indeed, one of the characteristics
     Collaborative Governance                                     of a well-constructed agreement is that it represents
     While each of the processes on the spectrum of collabor-     diverse values and interests. A consensus agreement is
     ative governance is different, all need to be conducted in   usually a package of small agreements. Participants prob-
     accord with certain democratic principles. The following     ably have varying levels of enthusiasm and support for
     are the key principles to keep in mind.                      each component, but they can accept the overall package
                                                                  as a course of action.

                                                    Page 8
               Policy Consensus Initiative -
Majority voting induces a different kind of interaction.      Misconception #3: People with personal agendas will
During discussions, if participants know they can revert      hijack the process. In any group process there is a pos-
to a majority vote if they cannot agree, they focus           sibility that a dysfunctional member or outside agitator
more on building coalitions than on trying to meet the        may derail the decision process. Pre-established ground
needs of all parties. In a consensus process, by contrast,    rules, strong facilitation, and a clear distinction between
participants must try to educate and persuade one             legitimate and non-legitimate “blocks” of a decision are
another about their needs and interests, and must listen      essential to prevent this from happening.
carefully to determine how a proposed solution can meet       Misconception #4: Managers and formal leaders will
the needs of all parties.                                     lose their authority. Managers are often concerned that
In some situations, a broader consensus may need to be        agreeing to a consensus process means they are giving up
formed—i.e., not just with the people around the table,       their ability to influence the final decision. They wonder,
but among constituents who are not at the table. In fact,     “Am I abdicating my role as a leader if I use consensus?”
many people who care about the matter may not be able         In consensus formal leaders are equal members of the
to participate directly. In these cases, public engagement    decision group. They, like any other member, can stop a
processes can be useful in informing and consulting the       proposal if they do not feel comfortable with the solution.
wider public, in order to build broad understanding and       Misconception #5: People are not accountable when
acceptance.                                                   decisions have “shared ownership.” The concern is that
                                                              group-based decisions diffuse accountability. However,
Misconceptions about                                          no group member is anonymous or invisible in consen-
Consensus Processes                                           sus—quite the contrary. True consensus requires every
The following is a well-stated description of five miscon-    participant to publicly proclaim not just his or her agree-   

ceptions about consensus processes from an article by         ment with a proposal but full commitment to support the
Larry Dressler.                                               decision’s implementation.

Misconception #1: Consensus takes too much time. In           The Stages of a
considering the issue of speed, be sure to ask yourself
whether you actually need to decide quickly or imple-         Collaborative Process
ment quickly. Fast decisions made by individuals or           A collaborative decision-making process moves through
through majority voting often result in slower implemen-      three general stages, each with its own set of activities.
tation due to resistance or unanticipated consequences.       	 1.	Before:	The	sponsor	conducts	an	assessment	
Many leaders who use consensus would say, “Whatever                to	determine	whether	or	not	to	initiate	a	
time we lose during our decision-making phase, we gain             collaborative	process.	If	the	decision	is	to	
in the implementation phase.” There is no denying                  move	forward,	the	sponsor	works	with	a	
                                                                   convener	to	bring	diverse	interests	to	the	table	
that consensus can take more time than other deci-
                                                                   and	selects	a	neutral	forum	and	facilitator	
sion processes but it does not need to be a burdensome             to	help	plan	and	organize	the	process.	
process. With practice, a well-planned process and skillful
                                                              	 2.	During:	Participants	jointly	agree	to	objectives	
facilitation, groups can move toward consensus decisions           and	ground	rules	for	the	process.	Participants	
relatively quickly.                                                then	come	together	to	exchange	information,	
                                                                   frame	the	issues,	engage	in	problem-solving	
Misconception #2: Solutions will become watered down.
                                                                   discussions,	generate	and	evaluate	options,	
One concern about consensus is that resulting decisions            develop	mutually	acceptable	solutions,	and	
are mediocre or uninspired because they have become                secure	the	endorsement	of	all	constituencies	
watered down by compromises necessary to secure full               and	authorized	decision	makers.	
group member support. An effective consensus process          	 3.		After:	Participants	work	together	to	
does not compromise on what’s important. It seeks to find           implement	their	agreements,	including	
solutions that fully achieve the group’s criteria and goals         formalizing	the	decisions,	carrying	them	
while at the same time addressing individual members’               out,	and	monitoring	the	results.	
concerns. Consensus uses disagreement to tap into in-         This basic outline, which underlies most all collabora-
novative approaches that might otherwise be overlooked        tive governance processes, will be elaborated on in the
if minority perspectives were never seriously considered.     remaining chapters. In the next chapter we will begin by
                                                              examining the conditions and circumstances that need to
                                                              be present in order to undertake a collaborative process.

                                                        Page 9
HINCKLEY JOURNAL          OF   POLITICS                                                                                         2008

Finding Winning Solutions – The Art and
Science of Good Governance
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker

         overnor Matheson would sometimes step back in the          cessor, Governor Bangerter. Ten years later however, in the
         middle of a complex policy discussion and ask, “What       aftermath of the creation of Grand Staircase-Escalante
         is in the best interest for the people of Utah, today      National Monument, Governor Leavitt picked up the land
and tomorrow?” The question always seemed to center us              exchange proposal. He pursued successful legislation that
when we strayed too far into the politics or minutiae of an         consolidated hundreds of thousands of acres of State lands,
issue. He would also carefully follow a simple model for State      effectively removing those scattered parcels from within
of Utah decisions, fashioned after legal and planning princi-       national parks, monuments, forests, Indian reservations, and
ples: What are the issues? What are the alternatives and their      other federal lands.
consequences? What is the preferred approach? Why? What                   For me, professionally, this style of decision making car-
is the rationale? Coupled with a commitment of an engaging          ried forward in my work with Bear West, an environmental
public process, we felt State decisions were headed in the          planning firm I co-founded after the end of the Matheson
right direction.                                                    Administration. Two of our first projects were the Salt Lake
     In the 1980s, under Governor Matheson, I had the               City Watershed Plan and the Salt Lake County Wasatch
responsibility of helping develop a proposal to take our thou-      Canyons Master Plan. These two efforts engaged all interests
sands of scattered state school lands,1 and through a congres-      in the Wasatch Mountains and through intensive efforts
sionally endorsed, multi-million acre exchange with the fed-        resulted in planning and policy direction for those lands and
eral government, bring Utah some contiguous, manageable             resources while allowing for the primary objective of preser-
parcels. I traveled across Utah, meeting with every county          vation. In both cases, contentious issues were addressed and
commission, dozens of ranchers, miners, recreationists, hold-       when the final plans were adopted, support came from all
ing dozens of public meetings in following the Matheson             sides.3
model for decision making. After three years, we presented a              After becoming a state legislator, I had an opportunity
proposal to Congress that met with neutrality or support from       fall into my lap that was an epiphany in understanding how
almost all quarters. The formula of coalition-building was to       good decisions are made. I was invited to join the Policy
take a good idea for the State of Utah, listen to every concern,    Consensus Initiative (PCI).4 In PCI, a group of officials
find ways to legislatively address those concerns and move          selected from states across the nation gathers twice a year to
forward with the concept of land consolidation through an           discuss the art and science of collaborative governance: what
exchange with the federal government.                               it is, when to use it, how to further its use effectively. The
     Governor Matheson left office with his proposal well-          organization is unusual in that it is made up of a board led by
received in Congress,2 but needing a push to carry it through       two governors (one from each party), four legislators (geo-
to completion. The legislation was never pursued by his suc-        graphically and politically balanced), leaders of state regional
                                                                    organizations, and professionals in the field of alternative dis-
                                                                    pute resolution and consensus-building practices. A small,
                                                                    expert staff guides our learning and discussions. After joining
 See Ralph Becker and Scott Matheson, Sr., “Improving Public Land   PCI, I first began to understand there is a method that can be
 Management Through Land Exchange: Opportunities and Pitfalls of
                                                                    replicated to arrive at good public decisions.
 the Utah Experience,” 33 Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute 4-
 1 (1987); Project BOLD: Proposal for Utah Land Consolidation and         The goal of collaborative governance isn’t much different
 Exchange, Utah Department of Natural Resources and Energy          than that of Governor Matheson and others who are com-
 (1985); Project BOLD: Alternatives for Utah Land Consolidation     mitted to public solutions: “Leaders engag[e] with all sec-
 and Exchange, Utah Department of Natural Resources and Energy
 Public Lands and Reserved Rights Subcommittee, Energy and
 Natural Resources Committee, Hearing on S. 2949, Utah State and    3
                                                                      Wasatch Canyons Master Plan , AICP Planners’ Casebook (Fall
 Federal Land Management Improvement Act of 1984, October 2,          1993).
 1984.                                                              4

                                                       Page 10                                                                      85
FINDING WINNING SOLUTIONS – THE ART       AND   SCIENCE   OF   GOOD GOVERNANCE                                                   Ralph Becker

tors—public, private, non-profit, citizens, and others—to               HOW DOES IT WORK?
develop effective, lasting solutions to public problems that go         This system integrates the principles and network to assure an
beyond what any sector could achieve on its own.”5 At our               effective collaborative governance process:
PCI Board Meetings, we listen to leaders in every sector dis-                • Sponsors identify and raise an issue;
cuss the methods of their effectiveness. We also discuss the                 • Assessment is made on the feasibility for collaboration
stories of success and the elements that are necessary for good                 and who needs to be involved;
governance. We chart the elements and steps. The results are                 • Leader(s) convene all needed participants;
available, but here are some of the conclusions from our                     • Participants adopt this framework for addressing the
work:6                                                                          issue;
                                                                             • Conveners and participants frame (or reframe) the
WHAT RESULTS DOES IT PRODUCE?                                                   issue for deliberation;
The best public solutions come from people working together                  • At a neutral forum, the facilitator designs and conducts
on issues. Collaborative governance takes as its starting point                 a process to negotiate interests and integrate resources;
the idea that working together creates more lasting, effective               • A written agreement establishes accountability; and
solutions.                                                                   Sponsors identify and raise an issue or opportunity that
     • Lasting – Solutions developed through collaborative              calls for a collaborative response.
       governance won’t simply be undone in the next year or            This collaborative governance system can work anywhere as
       legislative session.                                             long as several key principles are adhered to consistently:
     • Effective – The collaborative governance approach                transparency; equity and inclusiveness; responsiveness;
       ensures that the realities of the situation are considered       accountability; forum neutrality; and consensus-based deci-
       and discussed; decisions are not made in a vacuum.               sion making. Much more information is available from PCI
     • More buy-in – From the outset, all stakeholders are              and other sources, but you can see this work builds on the
       involved in authentic ways; all have a role in the final         basic guide to dispute resolution, “Getting to Yes.”7
       agreement.                                                            I’ve had the opportunity to apply these principles as a
                                                                        legislator as well, whether working with constituents on a
WHY IS IT NEEDED?                                                       local transportation issue,8 developing legislation on regional
   • Accelerating change                                                facility siting and approval,9 establishing open space protec-
   • Overlapping institutions and jurisdictions                         tion and quality growth principles,10 or other legislative ini-
   • Increasing complexity                                              tiatives. In every instance where the circumstances were ripe,
   • Meeting a need to integrate policies and resources                 this process achieved a good result for the community.
                                                                             Now, as a mayor, I have new opportunities to further
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM “GOVERNMENT?”                                good governance. I’ve initiated Salt Lake Solutions, which is
“Governance” is the process by which public ends and means              an effort to apply these approaches to projects and policies in
are identified, agreed upon, and pursued. This is different than        Salt Lake City. We have started with the Fisher Mansion, a
“government,” which relates to the specific jurisdiction in             historic treasure on the Jordan River. The Mansion needs to
which authority is exercised. “Governance” is a broader term            be adapted to a new life and its historic integrity needs to be
and encompasses both formal and informal systems of relation-
ships and networks for decision making and problem solving.
                                                                          See R. Fisher and W Ury, “Getting to Yes”, (Penguin Books, 2d Ed,
WHAT DOES IT TAKE?                                                        1991).
   • Collaborative governance requires three elements:
                                                                          See B. Feustel, “Building a True Partnership with Your
                                                                          Constituents”, National Conference of State Legislatures, June,
   • A sponsor – an agency, foundation, civic organization,               2005) or developing legislation (See Facilities of Regional Impact.
     or public-private coalition to initiate and provide sup-             H.B. 116, 2004.
     port;                                                              9
                                                                          Facilities of Regional Significance – in 2004, Ralph Becker co-spon-
   • A convener/leader – a governor, legislator, local offi-              sored legislation to address the thorny topic of siting regional facili-
     cial, respected civic leader, or other individual with               ties in communities. A bipartisan, consensus approach resulted in an
                                                                          overhaul of the notification requirements between cities, counties,
     power to bring diverse people together to work on                    special districts, school districts and utility companies when plan-
     common problems; and                                                 ning and acquiring property.
   • A neutral forum – an impartial organization or venue               10
                                                                           Quality Growth Act, 1999 – As co-sponsor and co-author of Utah’s
     to provide and ensure skilled process management.                     Quality Growth Act, Ralph Becker played a lead role in shaping
                                                                           and passing Utah’s first growth management effort. There were two
                                                                           primary components: a system and support for planning for Utah’s
                                                                           communities; and an open space protection program that included
                                                                           the State of Utah’s first funding. The bill was passed amid enormous
                                                                           tension ovet any State involvement in planning or open space pro-
See PCI Materials, available at

86                                                                Page 11
HINCKLEY JOURNAL         OF   POLITICS                                2008

protected. City Council Member Van Turner and I have con-
vened a group that will follow the collaborative governance
process and direct the City on the protection, use, and
resources for the Fisher Mansion. The community is engaged
and excited (at a two-hour open house, approximately 2,400
people showed up to look at this Mansion and give us initial
ideas). We’re looking forward to the results of the group’s
work and a new era for the Mansion.
     Arriving at successful decisions for the public takes a
combination of listening, common sense, intuition, and some
tools. Some of us have learned mostly by trial and error. With
resources like PCI and hundreds of efforts around the country
however, the art and science of good governance is at our fin-
gertips. Think what our government would look like if we
adopted principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and partici-
pant-based decision making as the norm. Imagine how much
better and involved our communities would be if residents felt
like their voices mattered. Consider how much more willing
our voters would be to participate in basic democratic func-
tions if they felt like decisions were based on the principles
Governor Matheson enunciated decades ago, building on the
founders of this nation who deliberated with passion — but
also with respect. We can build the community we want in
Salt Lake City by finding winning solutions through good

                                                            Page 12    87
   MANAGEMENT                                                                             |   More

Meetings of the Minds

                                          W      hen people think about Montana, "consensus" isn't the first idea that pops
                                                 into their heads. "Conflict" would be more like it. The history of Big Sky
                                          Country is filled with epic confrontations between farmers and ranchers, miners and
                                          copper companies, environmentalists and property owners. Montana is where the
                                          Unabomber declared war on modern civilization, and where the extremist Freemen
                                          holed up in their compound and defied federal authority. If you live in the East,
                                          Montana is a place you tend to hear about only when people there are mad at each
                                          other about something.

                                          Given that rather widespread perception of intractable Rocky Mountain orneriness,
                                          it's interesting that Montana is currently the nation's leading laboratory for
                                          experiments in making crucial public decisions by a formal process of consensus.
  Alan Ehrenhalt is a former
  executive editor of GOVERNING.          The governor and lieutenant governor are true believers in it. The former governor
                                          (and current national Republican Party chairman) headed a task force on it. The
                                          state's lone representative in the U.S. House has introduced a bill to put it in place
                      0           0       at the national level.

                    tweet        Like     It's easier to find enthusiasts for the consensus method than it is to pin down exactly
                                            how it works. Essentially, however, it works this way: A panel is chosen that
includes a representative from every significant interest group with a stake in the issue. They meet face to face, agree to take
each other seriously, to stay at it as long as necessary, and to focus on finding a mutually acceptable result rather than
merely looking for avenues of self-expression.

To be truthful, it sounds like little more than common sense. And yet it has been employed in Montana to resolve the most
complex disagreements involving land use policy, hazardous waste disposal and treatment of the mentally ill. "The
consensus process strips away all the extraneous issues and allows people to speak to each other," says Lieutenant
Governor Karl Ohs. "Most of the time, people learn that the other side is not as 'wrong' as they initially thought."

Would it work on a national level? We may get to find out. Legislation introduced in the U.S. House by Montana Republican
Dennis Rehberg, and in the Senate by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan, would create a national Consensus Council,
along the lines of the ones that currently exist in those two states. Congress would pass along issues that have proven
immune to conventional legislative solution. The council would assemble the stakeholders, convene the meeting and try to
guide it toward common ground.

You're excused for thinking that this kind of lock-'em-in-a-room consensus-building would be hard to sell on a national stage
in dealing with issues as incendiary and multi-sided as Social Security, tax reduction or missile defense. I'm inclined to agree.
But the record at the state level is actually quite encouraging.

The consensus movement wasn't born in Montana--the nation's first consensus council was the one established in North
Dakota in 1991. It still exists, and has recorded some tangible progress--in restructuring the state court system and in
brokering agreement over medical procedures for the terminally ill.

But the real proving ground has been Montana, where Marc Racicot ran for governor in 1992 on a consensus-building
platform, and created a Consensus Council by executive order as soon as he took office. "There's not much difference of
opinion," Racicot likes to say, "among thoughtful people." This may depend on one's definition of "thoughtful." Even in
Montana, there are many who consider it wishful thinking. On the other hand, it clearly drove Racicot's approach to problem-
solving during two successful terms in office.
                                              Page 13
The crucial test of the process came in 1995 on the issue of hazardous waste. Mining companies were balking at a state law
that held them responsible for cleaning up a contaminated site even when a previous owner was responsible for the damage.
Environmentalists feared that if the law were repealed, nobody would do the cleanup.

The legislature handed this problem off to the state Department of Environmental Quality. The DEQ called in the Consensus
Council, which created an ad hoc committee built around five component interests: industry, environmentalists, the state, the
federal government and local government. This committee met regularly for a year. At the end of the year, they emerged with
a formula that apportioned cleanup costs according to 12 specific factors, and provided that a judge would weigh the factors
in each individual case. All the parties signed off on the deal, and the legislature approved it overwhelmingly when it met in
the next regular session.

If you think it can't be that simple, you're right. On other issues in the same state, the consensus process has flopped. After
the success on hazardous waste, it was tried on the issue of facility siting. Utility companies in Montana felt that state laws
made it too difficult for them to build new generating capacity. Environmentalists resisted efforts to make the laws more
lenient. The Consensus Council carefully put together another stakeholder panel, with coal companies, electric companies,
environmentalists and consumer advocates, and it met more than 25 times over a period of two years. But nothing close to
an agreement ever emerged, and the pro-environment forces ultimately felt the industry just rolled over them in the
legislature as soon as it realized it had the votes to do so.

So there have been wins and losses. After five years, the Consensus Council reported that it had fostered agreement on 11
issues, failed on six, and was still working on three others. Since then, the group has taken on nearly 20 more.

Last year, when a debate occurred over asbestos cleanup in the town of Libby, newly elected Governor Judy Martz resisted
pleas to create a federal Superfund site. She said she preferred to try the consensus process. "I'd like to get some help from
the Consensus Council," the governor said. "They've done some terrific work."

And the legislature, after a long period of suspecting the consensus process to be largely a gimmick, has begun looking to it
as a primary policy option in the initial stages of a policy dispute. Matthew Mc- Kinney, the director of the Council, says that's
the way to measure its progress. "The challenge now," he argues, "is how we move from being a last resort to being a first

A      t this point you may be wondering what the difference is between invoking a consensus process and appointing a blue-
       ribbon commission to solve the problem. A few decades ago in this country, we relied on commissions to solve a good
many of our most perplexing problems, at all levels of government. When the schools didn't seem to be working properly, or
the military needed reform, or there was too much waste in the bureaucracy, we appointed the best minds available, waited
for their report, and then generally followed their advice. It didn't make problems disappear overnight, but most of the time it
did some good.

As you may have noticed, the commission approach hasn't worked so well lately. The president appoints a distinguished
panel to look into Social Security, or violence, or race relations, or obscenity in the media, and they come out a few months
later as bitterly divided as they went in.

I think that's largely because the structure of the whole process has changed. When President Truman or President
Eisenhower appointed a commission to deal with a national problem, it was assumed that the commissioners themselves
were above the battle, and had no agenda other than the national interest. This wasn't true, of course--anybody who
qualifies as an expert on an issue is bound to have some sort of agenda--but by and large, the country was willing to give
these people the benefit of the doubt. It was a different time. Most Americans believed middle-aged men sitting around a
table knew what was best for everyone. We don't believe that anymore.

And so if we're going to use consensus to solve problems in the 21st century, it can't be a consensus of non-partisan wise
men. It has to be a consensus of active and open partisans who bring all their opinions and goals to the table and make an
honest effort to balance them out. That's true at the national level, and it's true in the states.

But something else is required as well. The participants genuinely have to believe that they can gain more by reaching
agreement than by defending their own turf. That's what's been missing in most of the blue-ribbon commissions in federal
government during the past decade or so. The insurance executives and advocates for the elderly and other specialists
empanelled to deal with entitlement issues, for example, have come to the table as interest group standard-bearers, and
rarely have risen above that vantage point.

What's really interesting about the consensus movement in the states has been the ability of the stakeholders to see the
larger truth: In the long run, a negotiated solution benefits all sides more than unending confrontation, even confrontation that
offers occasional victories. In the end, the hard part isn't finding the stakeholders, or getting them into a room, it's helping
them see that if they walk away without accomplishing anything, everyone loses.

Perhaps it's surprising that Montana, a place with such a long history of confrontation and intransigence, would be ahead of
the rest of the country in appreciating this. Then again, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising at all.

You may use or reference this story with attribution and a link to
                                                                     Page 14
                                      Policy Consensus
              Facilitated Process for Complex Problem, Multiple Stakeholders

                                           Larry Spears, J.D.1

Introduction: A consensus process provides a safe forum and balanced assistance to
leaders in building agreements on difficult issues that have been in intractable conflict.

Sponsoring: Some consensus processes have sponsors, who are decision makers who
authorize the process and endorse it and pay particular attention to the results. The
sponsors are not bound by the results, but agree to encourage the process and consider the
results. Most sponsors seek to implement most of the results because the results reflect
the views of the diverse constituencies, which the sponsors, as leaders, seek to serve. A
sponsor is not appropriate, or is unnecessary, for other consensus processes.

Convening: The convener invites the participants, presides at all meetings, encourages
the participants, individually and collectively. The convener keeps their own counsel, in
public and private, regarding the substantive discussions of the participants. The
convener exercises self-discipline and does not participate in the substantive discussions
in meetings where the convener presides.

Staff Assistance: There are different kinds of staff assistance and many combinations for
ways to provide staff assistance to a consensus process. The assistance must address
meeting logistics, documentation and facilitation, both within the face-to-face meetings
and in any interim working committees functioning between meetings. The essential
characteristics are credibility with all participants, competence, energy and fairness in
word and action.

Design: The staff, in consultation with the convener, design the process, prepare
convening documents, proposed ground rules and a process format that the participants
adapted, usually with minor modifications, to meet their needs. The logistics, atmosphere
and opportunities for shared meals and informal conversation are essential components of
the consensus process.

Participants: The role of each participant is to listen to others and share their
constituency views, with a commitment to finding and articulating areas of agreement
and clarifying areas of non-agreement. Each participant carries a veto over the whole
process, which engenders an incentive and interest in all participants to hear and respond
to the concerns of all the other participants if a successful outcome is to occur.
 Size: The number of participants reflects the major viewpoints and constituencies in
    the underlying controversy. The number of participants should be managed between

  Larry Spears is the founder of the North Dakota Consensus Council, one of the first states in the U.S. to
institutionalize a capacity to facilitate group processes to solve policy problems and generate innovative
solutions. He has served as facilitator for groups working on a wide variety of issues across the U.S., has
taught at the John F. Kennedy School for Government.

                                                   Page 15
    15 and 30.
   Selection: Selection is a matter for the convener and staff to assure a broad
   Ownership: The participants determine their own ground rules, meeting schedule,
    meeting agendas and order of discussion. The staff services seek to provide support
    for their work.

Political Context: The political context is often very difficult. Unfortunately, important
issues are often only transferred to a consensus process when the political context
becomes intractable and the potential participants recognize the strategic importance of
participating in consensus processes. Tension among the participants is very real and the
convener’s role is essential in providing the credibility and continuity of integrity in the
process to meet the needs of the participants.

Time Frame: The time frame can be open or finite, depending on the circumstances.
Depending on the difficulty and complexity of the issues framed for the consensus
process, the duration of the consensus process can be managed to meet the needs of the
participants and sponsors. The number and frequency of meetings of the consensus
process are flexible. More frequent meetings of once every 4 to 6 weeks is optimal,
which schedule supports vigorous and productive interim work between meetings in
committees of the consensus process established by the participants to meet their needs
for productivity.

Issues and Framing: Framing of the issues is essential at the outset. The framing of the
issues affects the duration, meeting frequency and logistical challenges. Issue framing
can affect the international or national nature of the consensus process.

Process: The consensus process provided a safe forum for diverse and otherwise combat-
oriented organization leaders to meet at a level table to listen and communicate toward
building agreement and clarifying disagreements.

Benefits and Risks: In convening, distilling and clarifying the disparate voices lobbying
the decision-makers, the consensus process provides assistance to the decision-makers in
their decisions. The consensus process identifies areas of agreement and clarifies areas of
non-agreement in ways that are helpful to the continuing progress of the larger discussion
as well as the decision-making process.

Guarantees: There is no guarantee of particular results or substantive results.
Significant results are universally experienced in recent experience, but such results are
dependent on the energy and creativity of the participants in the consensus process.

Role Allocations: The participants own and direct the meeting schedule, discussion
ground rules, meeting agendas, documentation and pace of the discussions. The staff
provide design, initial organization, and continuing documentation, meeting logistics and
facilitation services to the participants in their process. The convener invites, presides
and encourages the participants in their work in the consensus process.

                                          Page 16
Ground Rules: The participants approve ground rules for their deliberations to meet their
needs. The rule of decision in the consensus process is proposed and accepted by all
participants as unanimous agreement of the participants. This rule of decision
distinguishes the consensus process from the more traditional deliberative process based
on a majoritarian rule of decision, which reflects majority and minority views. The effect
of the consensus rule of decision was to provide an absolute veto to each participant over
any and all decisions of the process and its Report. This rule of decision eliminates the
need for numerical balancing of the representation.

For many of the participants, this consensus approach is a new experience. Adjustments
among the participants are evident as the process unfolds. The post-consensus process
reviews from the participants are uniformly highly favorable towards the process as well
as the outcomes. But for the consensus process, the progress could not have been
otherwise accomplished in their views.

Productivity and Results: The results of the consensus process are productive and
timely. The time frame can be finite and fit to the subject and organizational necessities
recognized by the participants. Implementation is aided by the unanimity of the
agreement. The results can be crafted in forms to meet the jurisdictional and juridical
needs of the political environment. The consensus process supports the future leadership
of the participants and their credibility with their constituencies.

Regarding the past consensus processes and their products that resulted directly in
practical progress for the jurisdiction, these include restructuring of the trial courts of the
judicial system, life sustaining medical treatment decision-making policy, local
government legislation and nursing supervision, all of which were approved by decision
makers with no substantive changes, primarily because all the significant constituencies
in the jurisdiction had participated in the consensus process and endorsed its conclusions.

Funding: Funding can be managed in many ways. Self-funding by participants of their
participation expenses can evidence and strengthen their ownership of the process.
External funding sources are transparent to the participants. The funders have no role in
the design, staffing, invitations, convening, logistics, discussion subjects or the
conclusions and recommendations of the consensus process.

Institutionalization: It is important for the future of productive democracy to consider
the benefit of permanent institutional resources for providing the experienced staff
services to leaders in building agreement of difficult policy issues.

Conclusion: The consensus process is not easy work for any participants, but it is usually
better than the alternatives. In a challenging political context, the convener and staff
establish and serve the consensus process by providing a credible forum and assistance to
the participant leaders as they build agreement and clarify their disagreements on issues
of deep prior conflict in a finite time frame and with results unimagined at the beginning
of the process.

                                           Page 17

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