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Can Government Solve Big Problems Collaboratively?

Can Government Solve Big Problems Collaboratively?

Stefan Rajewski – Fotolia.com The Open Government Initiative of the Obama Administration has given high priority to increasing the use of collaboration in the federal government. Yet many federal offices have not in the past encouraged the sort of collaborative mindset that is necessary for meaningful efforts in this direction. As William Eggers and John […]

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Moving Toward Agreement from the Extremes

Moving Toward Agreement from the Extremes

Image courtesy of Nihat Dursun – Fotolia.com In the last post, I summarized different ways of thinking about the effect of extreme beliefs on efforts to resolve conflict and solve problems. Elizabeth Bader approaches the mediation context in terms of personality and psychoanalytic theory, while Eggers and O’Leary describe how government solutions to major issues […]

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Consensus Building: Changing Minds to Reach Agreement

Consensus Building: Changing Minds to Reach Agreement

For a diverse group to reach consensus, at least some of the participants – perhaps all of them – have to change their minds. They come into the room with differing, often fundamentally conflicting ideas about the challenges they face. They likely disagree on how to define problems, technical methods that should be used to […]

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What Do You Do When Consensus Fails?

What Do You Do When Consensus Fails?

This is the nightmare scenario for any consensus process: After months of hard work by 20 or 30 participants, one or two holdouts, perhaps representing narrow or personal interests, block agreement and frustrate the entire effort. That is possible if the only route to agreement requires unanimous consent. There has to be a way to […]

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How Do Consensus Groups Make Choices?

How Do Consensus Groups Make Choices?

As in any other field, public sector consensus building always gets to the critical moment when choices have to be made. In my experience, how a group accomplishes this reveals more about motives behind decisions than any other step in the process. Several years ago, I worked with a large group to build consensus on […]

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Implementing Agreements: The Ordeal of Change

Implementing Agreements: The Ordeal of Change

The real test of a collaborative agreement only begins when the changes it requires hit the streets. That’s when it gets personal. Carrying out an agreement usually means that particular people will have to do things differently, pay costs they’re not used to paying, live with new restrictions, new requirements. The negative side of change […]

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