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Thread: Process for resolving controversial issue

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    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Process for resolving controversial issue

    My council wants to resolve a controversial issue, the one that is getting me so much grief right now. They want me to come up with a process. They suggest appointing a committee of antagonists from both sides and locking them in a room together to work out a compromise. Given the level of emotion the issue has aroused, I don't see this producing anything other than a Jerry Springer episode. And while train wrecks can be fun to watch, I am supposed to be driving this train, so a high entertainment value does not override a low survivability value.

    Here's my question: have any of you had a successful resolution of a highly-charged, emotional land use issue? By successful, I mean one where the participants felt their views had been heard, they accepted the outcome, and the outcome actually solved the problem? If so, tell me what you did, please.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I did lock them in a room to come up with a solution -

    So the solution passed muster but ultimately is proposed to be reversed - but it worked for 5 years and then was decided it wasn't necessary - I don't think that equates failure

    I think the pains of the process are as important as the solution and even if the solution gets changed in the future, you had a starting point that a group agreed upon

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    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    My chief concern is that all they're going to do in the locked room is shout at each other, and not make a genuine attempt to craft a compromise. Frankly, I anticipate a bad-faith effort on the part of certain likely committee members and I'd like to avoid the never-ending "I can shout; don't hear you" sessions.

    Although I have decided if that is the way we are going to go, I will at least videotape the sessions, and maybe broadcast them live on the local government/education channel. Maybe that will help to check the endless posturing.

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    My chief concern is that all they're going to do in the locked room is shout at each other, and not make a genuine attempt to craft a compromise. Frankly, I anticipate a bad-faith effort on the part of certain likely committee members and I'd like to avoid the never-ending "I can shout; don't hear you" sessions.

    Although I have decided if that is the way we are going to go, I will at least videotape the sessions, and maybe broadcast them live on the local government/education channel. Maybe that will help to check the endless posturing.
    What about having a 3rd party (i.e. not yourself or other staff) moderate the session so that some level of decorum is met, and hopefully constructive comments can be solicited and received to try and come to a compromise?

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    My council wants to resolve a controversial issue, the one that is getting me so much grief right now. They want me to come up with a process.

    ...

    Although I have decided if that is the way we are going to go, I will at least videotape the sessions, and maybe broadcast them live on the local government/education channel. Maybe that will help to check the endless posturing.
    Sigh.

    Process.

    No one wants to lead or get blamed. Sweet

    My sympathies. You definitely need to protect yourself and offering the filming bit might be a marker that you aren't going to be the patsy. So that might make some grow some cojones.

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    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    What about having a 3rd party (i.e. not yourself or other staff) moderate the session so that some level of decorum is met, and hopefully constructive comments can be solicited and received to try and come to a compromise?
    I'm hoping if we go this route I will be able to hire a facilitator. I also will propose ground rules and decorum rules, but I'm not confident of their being observed in the absence of a facilitator.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    If so, tell me what you did, please.
    Is there enough staff time and deadline room to teach these people how to behave? A couple-ten extra sessions where they learn how to act as public servants?

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    Cyburbian chupacabra's avatar
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    Bringing in the right facilitator can be really valuable.

    I've also called people on their bullshit and gotten nasty with them. Well, not nasty, but very "forward" and clear that both sides were fucking things up and that if they all didn't want to lose they should shut up and work it out. It's worked well in a couple of contentious situations. I have the advantage in that I don't care if I get fired so I tend to do whatever will make things easier for me to get the work done.

    Nothing makes me hate humanity quite like building consensus with stakeholders. My next job is going to be for a bat-shit crazy billionaire with lots of land holdings. No public process. No consensus. Just building crazy shit because Howard Hughes wants a house built out of bendy-straws.
    You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    I'm hoping if we go this route I will be able to hire a facilitator. I also will propose ground rules and decorum rules, but I'm not confident of their being observed in the absence of a facilitator.
    It doesn't sound like it, so a facilitator would likely be your best bet.

    I'm in a leadership academy right now, and early on we learned about Gracious Space. The tenents are basically suspend judgment, assume positive intent, embrace conflict, etc. Not sure if you could do a quick review of this beforehand, but it might help to get to a common ground before having the discussion.

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