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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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How Voluntary is Public Policy Consensus Building?

How Voluntary is Public Policy Consensus Building?

Image Credit: Ewe Degiampietro – Fotolia.com Voluntary participation is an essential dimension of mediation, consensus-building and the many other forms of collaborative public policy – at least in theory. But even with so basic a part of the concept of collaboration as its voluntary nature, the realities of practice can depart sharply from the ideal. […]

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Collaborative Planning for Groundwater Management

The collaborative approach to water resource planning has been growing over the past 15 years, especially where urban, agricultural and environmental needs are straining the local supplies. Like many other public water managers, the Sonoma County (California) Water Agency faced a decline in groundwater supply throughout the Sonoma Valley as pumping steadily increased because of […]

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Consensus Building and the Unshakable Rightness of Belief

Consensus Building and the Unshakable Rightness of Belief

Anyone who’s worked at building consensus on public policy knows the frustration of trying to reason with someone who just won’t change a position or even consider alternative possibilities. They may refuse to accept any evidence that seems to disprove their positions and become aggressive and disruptive in the face of challenges. Sometimes, it’s possible […]

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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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Power Differences, Consensus Building & Collaborative Networks

Power Differences, Consensus Building & Collaborative Networks

Power differences among members of a collaborative effort – whether conceived as a network or a consensus building process – have long been a major concern of observers and stakeholders alike. One of the basic characteristics of these groups is their voluntary, non-coercive nature and the equal voice accorded to each participant. The fear is […]

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