Often we have to make decisions as a community; a family, a nation, a team. How do we go about it? Usually we will simply ask “what do you think we should do?” And then we will argue against the other person’s proposal. When the decision is finally made there is conflict and resentment from those who suggested doing something else. The results of this approach can be extremely damaging.
For instance, the government ask “do you want to leave the EU?” Half of us say yes and half of us say no, and so half of us are very upset that we have not been listened to. The nation is split in two.
Or a local authority will make a proposal to close Children’s Centres and then ask people’s opinion on the proposal, calling it a consultation. But it is simply a consultation on whether you like the proposal or not. The consultation doesn’t lead to a better solution, but just to anger from those who will be harmed by the proposal.
The steps we go through, probably unconsciously, when we decide something for ourselves can be summarised as:
- What is a the problem
- What are the alternative solutions
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each
- What do we want to do
But when we try to make decisions as a community our normal approach is:
- What do you want to do?
- I don’t want to do that, but this.
We end up arguing, simply because trying to decide something without even knowing what problem we are trying to solve.
In both of the examples above, the process could have been different.
For example, the question could have been “What factors are important in deciding whether to remain in the EU, and how important do you think each factor is?”
With the results of this consultation, the government could have framed a proposal for how to deal with the different issues, explained the proposal and the reasoning used to get to it, and then (if necessary) asked for agreement to proceed. In essence this is requiring the government to carry out ‘completed staff work’ (http://govleaders.org/completed-staff-work.htm) before submitting a proposal for approval. If they have done their work well, the conclusion would simply need our approval.
Try this approach in your community. Let me know if it helps.