There are a great many companies, public agencies and not-for-profit organizations facing severe revenue shortfalls. They have to shrink their operations, find more efficient ways of doing what they do, or identify new revenue sources. Too often, their leaders fail to realize that they can use a consensus building approach -- one that emphasizes engagement, transparency, and accountability -- to accomplish these goals.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Posted by Lawrence Susskind at 6:52 PM
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Most environmental advocates and planning professionals know that every effort to manage natural resources or deal with threats to public health and environmental sustainability ought to proceed on a step-by-step basis. The systems involved are so complex that most efforts to "solve problems" are likely to have unanticipated results. Policy-makers act like they "understand the problem fully" and "know the best solution" when they pass legislation or adopt new regulations. Those of us most knowledgeable about the human-ecological systems involved, however, realize that the complexity of these systems makes it impossible to anticipate what's going to happen with much certainly. There are just too many factors and too many interactions we don't understand. So, an adaptive management approach is what is called for. That is: take one modest step at a time; make a best approximation of what's causing the problem, choose an initial response that seems like it might help, monitor everything to determine what the impacts of the initial move are, and then make adjustments and try again. Plan on doing this repeatedly until everyone involved learns enough about the system involved to approximate the desired solution.
Monday, February 9, 2009
One response I often get to the idea of a taking a consensus building approach to governance is that it won't work because people with conflicting values and interests can't possibly reach agreement through informal conversation. The only way to settle their differences (peacefully), or so the argument goes, is to let the majority rule. While I don't agree, what possible reason, then, could there be for communities-of-faith (i.e. groups associated with particular temples, parishes, or churches) to operate by majority voting? They are, by definition, groups that share common values and interests.