The More Disruptive the Issue, The Higher the Cost it is To Resolve

In this issue of Frankly Speaking, we talk about disruptive, “wicked” issues. "Wicked" issues are those with high emotions, where many different opinions exist on how to solve the issue, and it is critical that the issue is solved for the organization to move forward.

Combating Democracy's Problems

The Community Engagement Institute

Learning from each other addresses democracy’s problems. Many times, citizens feel sidelined because they don’t think they can make a difference. “Wicked” issues, such as immigration policy or school consolidation, are framed in ways that promote divisiveness and not all options for solving them are considered. Democracies depend on constant collective learning and a system to promote dialogue.

The result is a lack of people participating in the decision making process or the perception that "the end is already decided, so why bother?" Decisions are often made by a small group or hastily without giving the public the opportunity to be able to reach shared or reflective, informed judgment.

Small communities and public institutions are facing daunting problems that can best be solved if all citizens are given the space to work together to produce common ground on the things upon which they do not agree. Traditional ways that communities go about solving problems may limit citizen participation, so when people disagree about what to do, it prevents them from joining forces.

Political institutions’ efforts to organize citizens can backfire by draining away the vital energy that people bring. Mutual distrust between citizens and many political institutions has been increasingly disruptive for decades. Citizens see politicians as unresponsive, as well as ineffective, and the political environment doubts that the general citizen is responsible and capable to make informed choices.

The Global Horizons, LLC Community Engagement Institute teaches community and elected leaders how to create safe, neutral space for citizens to work together in a session/s moderated by a professional trained in the art of Deliberative Dialogue:

 ·         Identify/name the issue in their own terms of what is most valuable.

·         Frame the issues so that a range of actions are considered and the trade-offs required are evident.

·         Make deliberative decisions weighing the trade-offs, to turn hasty reactions into sound judgment.

·         Identify resources that are available, even intangible ones like enthusiasm and commitment.

·         Organize actions in ways that builds upon the common ground identified and helps the other become better.

Asking questions in a different way can help open up the values of certain positions.

Questions such as:

·         How does this problem affect you and your family?

·         What do you think is the right thing to do?

·         What might be the consequences, both positive and negative?

·         What are our options?

·         Who else do we need to solve the problem?

·         What resources could we use?

·         Can we support one another?

·         What are we learning?

When you set up the process to allow citizen participation, great things happen. People actually get along! They come up with wonderful solutions that, when they come together, are better than any previously proposed.

To learn more or book a training on the art of Deliberative Dialogue, contact Kimberlee Spillers, kim@ghorizons.com or 712-250-0275.

We know how to help your organization move forward. Together.

Some Places Just Don't Want to Grow!

C.A.V.E. people - Citizens Against Virtually Everything.   

W.A.V.E. people - Workers Against Virtually Everything.  

P.A.V.E. people - Parishioners Against Virtually Everything.  

N.I.M.B.Y. people - Not In My Back Yard! 

Every state, community, organization has people like these folks, but we tend to discount them or say, “That's just them. They always look at the negative.”

If you want to grow, but have issues in your community where you just can't get moving because of some people or obstacle, take an honest look at the issues that keep your community/ies "stuck." 

Look at your community culture.

I have served in chamber of commerce and economic development organizations my entire professional career and I know those organizations are paid to promote all the good the community has to offer.

However, communities that thrive are those who will publicly look for the bad, as well as promote the good. Thriving communities commit to being better.

If you are committed, you will do whatever it takes. You stop blaming other people and circumstances for your situations. You learn what you need to learn. You practice what you need to practice. You put all attention / focus on how you will achieve your goals.

How do you know what needs to be addressed if you don’t look at the downside of your community?

Here are two pain points:

  • Are you increasing population?  and
  • Are you decreasing poverty?

Making headway on these two goals signals how welcoming people find your community.

In my research, states with a higher population of non-native-born citizens - people who were not born in, but are living in your state - are growing at a faster rate and have higher incomes than states with a higher population of native-born; those born in and living in the state.

Ask those who moved into your community - people who do not have grandparents buried in the local cemetery - if they feel welcome and feel they belong. Even if they've lived there 20+ years.

Ask those who come to your church and sit in somebody else's pew.

Ask your youth. Do they feel they belong? Do they see a future in your town?

 

Look at your culture. How your community "grew up."

To address these issues, you need to start with Why? Why does your community exist?

Do you know “why?" Are you asking? 

Are you digging to find the "problem behind the problem" when the community disagrees? Do you ask for value-based opinions from your citizens on issues your community needs to solve?

Convene a Community Engagement Institute to find your culture.  http://www.bewuca.com/blog/community-engagement-institute

 

Neighboring Towns and Growth

Why do we not like the community down the road? Is it because of athletics? A school merger? Because they stole our county charter 120 years ago? Or maybe, more than 100 years ago, our community had a competition who could hate their neighbor the most. One did.

Identifying, understanding, and breaking down the walls of conflict, perceptions, and hate is the first step toward growth as a region.

 

How Issues Become "Issues"

Whether in a family, church, school, business, organization or government, an issue goes through stages. When an issue is emerging, those involved and affected perceive their choices and choose their "sides" in resolving the matter.  The more involved we keep people and include as many choices as possible to solve the issue, the less disruptive the issue.

If we take away choices, voice, and input from those involved and affected, the issue becomes increasingly disruptive. People who do not know how an issue is decided, and are not a part of how the decision is made, do not trust the outcome.

So, the more disruptive the issue, the higher the cost that issue is to resolve in time, manpower, and/or money.

Some communities do not want to know other people’s opinions. It is like they want their deep, dark, secrets to stay hidden, thinking, "if we don't talk about it, it doesn't exist." 

Are you like that? Or do you want to change so you can grow with new people, ideas, energy?

 

You go to the doctor's office to find out why you are not well. You want that doctor to be honest with you and tell you how to get better. 

The "doctor" is in.

Global Horizons has championed civility-building, community growth processes for more than 25 years.

Build civil relationships to address motivation and community issues that keep you "stuck." 

Give us a call. 712-250-0275.

 

Native-Born per state 25+ -  http://www.governing.com/gov-data/census-migration-homegrown-populations-for-cities-states.html
Growth rate per state - http://www.usa.com/rank/us--population-growth-rate--state-rank.htm?tag=Fastest+Growing+States+in+U.S.
Richest States by income - http://www.usa.com/rank/us--median-household-income--state-rank.htm?yr=3000&tag=Richest+States+by+Income+in+U.S.