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In the end, I believe that those who call forth the most collective intelligence and wisdom will be those who can manifest – and help others manifest – two vital capacities:
1. the ability to include more of what is normally overlooked and excluded and
2. the ability to use diversity and disturbance creatively.

Obviously, these are not always easy to do. But then, neither is “Love your neighbor as yourself”. However, we all need to exercise these holistic muscles at least a little bit on our shared journey to collective wisdom.

These capacities are important because our world is whole, complex, interconnected, and always changing. It is seriously messy and hard to track. It is all too easy to overlook the many non-obvious, non-trivial factors that will – or could – play a big role in what’s going to happen next.

In order to notice as many of these tricky factors as possible, we need to step out of our normal ways of thinking and feeling. That’s why I advocate a bias towards inclusion and the ability, once we include some of those tricky borderline cases, to use the resulting diversity and disturbance creatively.

So this is an invitation to welcome into our midst some non-obvious, non-trivial people, puzzles, information, perspectives, and resources that we would rather not have to pay attention to but which – from some loftily objective perspective – we had better take into account if we want to achieve anything remotely like wisdom and transformational innovation. Mainstream business-as-usual – especially limited to our comfort zones – is just not going to cut it.

THE FRINGES

Some practitioners of Open Space have a saying – “Welcome the stranger” – that hints at this. Open Space – like many other nonlinear “emergent processes” (e.g., The World Cafe, Appreciative Inquiry, Dynamic Facilitation) – has a quirky capacity to productively deal with the resulting diversity and disturbance.

Along the same lines, evolutionary theory suggests that evolution tends to happen most rapidly “at the margins” where one set of living patterns meets another, generating some friction and dynamic tension which exert a kind of pressure for new things to show up, from which natural selection can then pick solutions that resolve or creatively utilize those particular tensions. Similarly, chaos theory notes that life gravitates to “the edge of chaos” – a vibrant zone bounded by the twin dangers of too much order and too much chaos. The entities and patterns of life that persist don’t venture too far towards chaos when conditions are stable, and don’t venture too far towards order when conditions are changing. They are the responsive, self-organizing “chaordic” entities and life patterns.

So in our challenging, rapidly changing times, we find ourselves in need of fringes and edges, of borderlands and strange encounters. My interest in this realm comes largely from wondering how this fringy dynamic might play out in democratic politics and governance, especially in co-intelligent versions of democracy designed to enable public conversations to generate public wisdom that can deal well with our very serious 21st century challenges.

COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE AND COLLECTIVE WISDOM

I am coming to suspect that it is the fringes that make the difference between collective intelligence and collective wisdom.

Collective intelligence solves problems or resolves conflicts of, by and for a group, an organization, a community or a whole society. It solve those problems and conflicts for the here and now, for people who are interested, aware, and involved.

Collective wisdom, on the other hand, has a bigger challenge. It needs to expand out from the particular problem or conflict, from the here and now, from those interested, aware and involved. It needs to embrace larger contexts, interests, drivers and possibilities. It has to consider the deep needs of people long gone and yet unborn, and to delve into deeper levels of understanding and caring. It ventures into unseen dimensions of life – into background trends, hidden corruptions and connections, psychospiritual influences, scientific microcosms and macrocosms – to realize unexpected consequences, novel resources, and extraordinarily potent answers. Being the Big Picture form of intelligence, wisdom is born out of our capacity to stretch creatively into the unknown and the unacknowledged, into the new angle, the deeper parts of ourselves, the fringe insights and possibilities.

In the borderland where collective intelligence begins to expand into collective wisdom we see radical inclusion of erstwhile opponents in conversations enriched with broad-spectrum perspectives and information. We find Citizen Juries of randomly selected citizens studying briefing materials which summarize the main conflicting approaches to the issue they’re considering and then spending a week interviewing diverse partisans and experts and pulling together conclusions and recommendations to share with the public and its representatives.

Such approaches are so much more collectively intelligent than the polarized battles, bought-off politicians, and back room deals that shape so much of public policy today. They are also wiser, although usually hovering on the edge of real wisdom. They don’t journey too far in the direction of greater wisdom. That would take more thought, time, and resources. And it can seem just a bit too theoretical and risky for those involved in making things better now, with what we have.

But we need that bigger, longer-term wisdom. Given our circumstances, we can’t be satisfied merely with intelligence – even when it is collective. We need to invite and push ourselves and each other beyond smart into big-picture ways of being wiser together. Why? Because that’s where our greatest challenges and dangers will transmute into our greatest creative breakthroughs and positive possibilities. And because we are talking the edge of extinction here, for ourselves and so much of the rest of life – an edge that luckily also contains all our prospects for a far, far better world.

STRETCHING INTO THE FRINGE

Open-ended emergent processes like those mentioned earlier are one approach to calling forth this wisdom, an approach especially suited to facilitating self-organization and transformation in organization and communities. Initiatives to generate transformational public policy, however, could benefit from a different approach – specifically, expanding the techniques of deliberative democracy into the fringes.

For example, the practice of “framing an issue for deliberation” involves breaking the mainstream arguments about an issue into 3-5 diverse approaches, summarizing them, and presenting them as educational stimulants to citizen deliberators. Occasionally, the deliberators are charged with choosing one approach over the others. More often, they are invited to pull together an approach that seeks to resolve some of the difficult trade-offs that these competing approaches demand, often by mixing and matching aspects of them all. Sometimes deliberators are even challenged and empowered (perhaps with Dynamic Facilitation’s “choice-creating” process) to come up with something quite different from all the mainstream approaches, something that addresses the issue at a deeper, broader, or more imaginative level.

Alternatively (or additionally) citizen deliberators could be explicitly invited into the fringes. The Web is filled with non-mainstream information and solutions for virtually every issue we face. What if the 24 citizen deliberators in a Citizens Jury (for example) were broken up into 6 teams of 4 deliberators and given an afternoon to search the Web for the most useful existing information and/or possibilities they can find, relevant to the issue they’re working on. Each team would work independently from the others, in parallel, with any Web-searching assistance they needed. They would be challenged to find information and options
that are even better than what the other teams find. At the end all the teams would come together to share and discuss what they found. It would be an immersion in the messy world of the Web’s juicy fringes, with no pre-ordained instructions or conclusions. Informed by their earlier studies and interviews, the 24 deliberators could tap that rich brew for new ways of thinking about and solving – or even transcending – the issue before them. It would be interesting to then bring in new experts who know about the new options the deliberators are considering, and to engage those new experts with the previous, more mainstream experts, to delve deeper into understanding what’s going on and what’s possible.*

Public wisdom involves the public and decision-makers (whomever they may be) taking into account what needs to be taken into account for broad, long-term benefit. We need an active inquiry to formulate, test, use and institutionalize many diverse approaches to generating such wisdom. The very diversity of approaches would be a resource for wisdom. As a reader of this essay, you may have your own ideas. That’s great! Post them as comments on this blog. This essay is intended merely as an initial stimulant to raise interest and energy for the vital inquiry about how we can co-create our participatory wisdom.

Blessings on the Journey.

Coheartedly,
Tom

* For example, think about the debates you’ve heard about taxes and the budget. In those debates, have you heard discussion of a “financial transaction tax” (FTT)? The fact is that there is widespread but mostly unpublicized discussion of this FTT idea, attractive to many on both the Left and Right. Some people say we could use the proceeds to end income taxes altogether, or end global poverty, or pay off the national debt – depending on how the FTT was designed – while at the same time stabilizing global financial markets.

Then there is the issue of the military budget. Rather than just fighting over how much to cut, where is the discussion of the role of the military in America’s survival and well-being – and comparisons of how that survival and well-being might be differently served by using all or some of that money for different purposes? What IS security, anyway?

That questions might well lead us to the climate change angle on government expenses – from paying for catastrophes like Sandy to paying subsidies to fossil fuel industries – and to possible government revenue sources like a carbon tax (the treasure of which might also be paid equally to every citizen to build support for the proposal and to offset any additional carbon-derived price burdens borne disproportionately by the poor).

Even beyond these radical possibilities we find the idea of reducing government expenses (and government itself) by empowering local communities to self-organize, to build their wealth and economics locally, to become more self-reiliant and resilient, and to expand the role of sharing, gifting and mutual aid in sustaining themselves (which would handle a number of other social and environmental problems at the same time).

This note is offered as a small taste of the kind of out-of-the-box perspectives and options which any citizen deliberation considering tax and deficit policy should have a chance to consider en route to wiser solutions. You, like those citizen deliberators, can find out more about these and other options on Google and Wikipedia.

17 thoughts on “The wisdom of the fringes?

  1. …. resulting diversity and disturbance.  Unless the 'disturbance' is trying to kill you for whatever their reason might be.  You will not have time for inclusiveness and etc., because you will either be dead or fighting for your life.<br> <br>Paul Everett

  2. You are right, in one sense, jpeseeker, but I think this inclusion/exclusion issue – especially when we’re talking about wisdom – than is covered by your comment. First of all, please note that I recommended not only having a bias for inclusion, but ALSO having the capacity to use the resulting dissonance creatively or productively. I don’t necessarily recommend including things that we can’t productively deal with; every living system has a right to maintain its boundaries for its safety. But we shouldn’t use our lack of capacity to demonize or dismiss the people or ideas we can’t usefully include. <br/> <br/>Furthermore, I’m not focusing in this post on "surviving threat". I’m talking about "wisdom". Often one’s own survival is a significant part of wisdom. But this is not always the case and, more often than not, it is not THE primary factor, because real wisdom usually has larger concerns than our own self-interest. <br/> <br/>All that said, let me step into your scenario: <br/> <br/>If you KNOW the disturbance is trying to kill you, then it might be wise to not include it (unless your death in that instance would serve some higher purpose – e.g., protecting someone or creating some form of positive social change). <br/>Or perhaps the murderous disturbance is something you should pay attention to – e.g., you may be a target because you or something you are connected with (a country, a company, a person) is doing bad things to other people or life, and if you took responsibility for those things and ended the harms, you would no longer be targeted for them (e.g., if you were a dictator and popular underground agents were trying to kill you, you could replace yourself with a real democracy). <br/> <br/>But those instances are far less common than THINKING that someone or some disturbance MIGHT be trying to kill or harm us, or using the disturbance as an excuse to suppress someone or something to protect our own special interests or power. So instead of including dissidents in dialogue about how to change things for the better, we exclude them because we think they are out to get us or to undermine a system that is benefiting us at other people’s expense, perhaps even calling them "terrorists" to justify our exclusion or harsh treatment of them. (E.g., it is one thing to call people terrorists who terrorize populations with random acts of mass murder, bombing busses, etc. It is another thing to call people "ecoterrorists" who blow up SUVs in a car lot in the middle of the night to protest the massive harms done to our climate, our environment, and future generations by automobile culture, when no one except car dealerships would worry much about the damage done, and little actual "terror" is generated.) <br/> <br/>In the meantime, it is wise to do what we can to serve our well-being within the context of the well-being of all others and the larger social and natural systems we are part of.

  3. Tom …I think this is a very powerful bit of writing. I think the term "choice-creating" is appropriate in making the distinctions you point to. … You say, "I am coming to suspect that it is the fringes that make the difference between collective intelligence and collective wisdom." … And you say about Citizens Juries, "They are wiser, although usually hovering on the edge of real wisdom. They don’t journey too far in the direction of greater wisdom." I believe wisdom arises from choice-creating, but not from deliberation (at least by the narrow definition of deliberation "to weigh". The nature of choice-creating is to include the fringes, especially feeling-toned aspects, in a way that evolves some higher, holistic perspective. It involves facing into crises and overcoming them. Deliberation, on the other hand is about weighing and judging concrete elements. While some decisions might be termed "wise" by others, I don’t think the process has much to do with wisdom.

  4. As noted, Jim, my definition of wisdom is "taking into account what needs to be taken into account for long term broad benefit". I believe that both formal deliberations and nonlinear choice-creativity have roles to play in that. // Regular high quality deliberation – as represented here by Citizens Juries – while thoroughly covering trade-offs involved with the limited options being considered, can be too narrow and pedestrian to achieve the wisdom standard I specified. I think that limitation can be ameliorated by expanding the deliberators’ access to data and options beyond their original briefing materials and expertise, and weaving that new information into their deliberations. One model for doing that was the British Columbian Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform, which included public hearings and submissions and a much more extended process than is provided by Citizens Juries. // <br/>On the other hand, choice-creating – as represented by your Wisdom Council and the nascent Creative Insight Council model – while engaging more of what each participant has to offer than traditional deliberation does, and while engaging the group collectively in greater co-creativity, can fail to recognize and adequately consider factors that aren’t already part of their knowledge base, including practical limits related to certain options about which the group might be very excited (in their enthusiastic ignorance). (I want to acknowledge that one of the factors I consider essential for collective wisdom is iteration – doing a process periodically so that experience with the recommendations of an earlier council or jury can be considered by a subsequent one – is an explicit part of your Wisdom Council model, although not an implicit aspect of choice-creating.) // So the real wisdom-generating inclusion needed, it seems to me – especially if we’re seeking wisdom that can help us, at a policy level, survive as a civilization and species – is to tap both approaches (and others, like the conscious inclusion of diverse systems thinkers) in ways that allow us to ACTUALLY take into account what needs to be taken into account for long term broad benefit. // <br/>This will require us "process people" stepping out of our favorite process methodologies to clarify, for each existing wisdom-generating approach, what are its strengths and gifts, what are its limitations and problems, where could/does it fit in the larger wisdom-generating capacity we are trying to build, and what new factors, processes or configurations of processes would get us closer to where we need to go. // <br/>The battle over whose process is best discourages me tremendously when it undermines our ability to understand the gifts of each one rather than clarifying our urgently needed broader understanding and inspiring sorely needed process innovations.

  5. Tom and commenters, thank you. Accepting your definition of wisdom and enjoying your closing remark about the battle over whose process is best, this comes to mind:1. Yes, innovation is needed and welcome, and that 2me is more about results, whatever the process…2. Taking your definition of wisdom and running with it, I sense it is not so much achievable with a repeatable process (hence comparicng processes is nonsense indeed), but rather with a one-time context-sensitive, dare I say, project, small as it may be.

  6. Hi Bernd. If we could predict wisdom ahead of time, I’d be fully in agreement with you. But we can’t. Wisdom is proven over time – especially my definition that includes both "broad" and "long-term" benefits – and particularly because life/reality is simply too complex and filled with surprises. So, no matter how wise we may feel, if we want to be effectively wise, we have to include the feedback loop of results -> reflection -> response -> results, etc. (which is the learning process and the capacity of intelligence). So can a chain of one-time context-sensitive projects generate wisdom? Certainly. Can one such one-time project? Not likely. Does that make sense? This doesn’t require that a specific procedure or type of conversation be repeated, but it does require that an ongoing cycle of collective learning is somehow embodied in the ongoing overall collective process.

  7. Tom, please don’t characterize my comment as battling over whose process is best. I have the good fortune of being friend and neighbor to Ned Crosby, the originator of the Citizens Jury. So we have ample opportunities to battle over whose process is best in a different setting.More importantly, I wanted to make a somewhat controversial point about wisdom … how choice-creating is a quality of thinking that evokes wisdom, while deliberation is not. I think of wisdom similarly to what you said … how collective wisdom 1) arises from “the ability to include more of what is normally overlooked and excluded” and 2) “the ability to use diversity and disturbance creatively.” I see both of these as attributes of “choice-creating” but not of deliberation. (Sure, in a deliberation the organizers might include factors that are ordinarily overlooked but that’s not an inherent property of deliberation.)As a counter example you mentioned the British Columbian Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform. My wife and I drove to BC on more than one weekend to watch that process. I would say that the deliberative parts of the process generated a great solution, but they limited the wisdom of the Assembly. Ultimately, the Assembly was unable to succeed in its goal of changing the election process because the deliberations yielded a disaffected minority rather than unity.

  8. Well, let’s just say that I believe that there is not a solid boundary between choice-creating and deliberation and that the seeming clarity achieved by making a hard-and-fast distinction is outweighed by the loss of potential wisdom achievable by appreciatively learning from methods centered in either, both, and/or other forms of conversation about public issues. I’m really into the idea that there are gifts and limitations involved with practically everything, and that getting clear on those and where things fit in the larger picture is our most productive approach. <br/> <br/>As far as the BC Citizens Assembly is concerned, my understanding was that they developed an unprecedented approach to electoral reform – integrating and transcending what had been tried in other places, and customized to the unique needs of British Columbia – and that 98% of the 160 randomly selected participants supported it. But the government and some other groups didn’t like what they came up with and when it was put to a vote of the electorate and was heavily dissed in mainstream media, it garnered "only" 58% of the vote (falling short of the 60% needed, per their mandate, to implement their proposal). <br/> <br/>Perhaps Dynamic Facilitation’s choice-creating would have produced an approach that 100% of the Assembly agreed with. (1) Do you think that would have produced a 100% supportive vote from the electorate? (2) Can you share with us an example where DF has succeeded at producing clear unity with at least 160 randomly selected citizens? I haven’t seen such an example, but I could easily have missed it. (3) I’d also be interested in any evidence that "unity" in a DF’d group of randomly selected citizens (e.g., a Wisdom Council) produced "unity" in the larger community from which those citizens were selected. I know that choice-creating Wisdom Councils can serve that goal and that there are things that could be done around a Wisdom Council to enhance the effect even further (such as concomitant public conversations, fanfare, and publicity), but I have never seen evidence of how much unity a Wisdom Council actually produced in the population. This issue of evidence in no way undermines my sense of the value of choice-creating in working on public issues, or of Wisdom Councils in developing a broad sense of and voice for We the People. But when you use it to argue for your process as opposed to another, I think it is important to be grounded and clear about what we’re actually talking about. <br/>And re the BC Citizens Assembly, can you share your sources describing the "disaffected minority"? I hadn’t heard about that either.

  9. <html><head><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html charset=windows-1252"></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">Tom … As you know, I make a distinction between deliberation and choice-creating. To me this distinction is essential in order to preserve the magical qualities of choice-creating. Deliberation means to "weigh&nbsp;given options," where&nbsp;choice-creating is a continual seeking of what’s best for all. Deliberation ultimately results in a collective "decision" made through a vote. But with choice-creating, the only possible result is a unanimous "choice" … not in the sense of everyone agreeing to a pre-set option, but where everyone creates until some form of unity emerges.&nbsp;It’s like famous quote you often use from Black Elk … I forget, something like … &nbsp;"people talk until everyone just knows what to do."]<div><div><div><br></div><div>The Wisdom Council is always unanimous, by definition. And it always seems to work that way in the audience too, not that everyone gets to unity but everyone stops deliberating and shifts to seeking unity. Generally, the Wisdom Council speaks its result and by general acclaim that’s what happens. The most visible example of is what happened in Bregenz when the Wisdom Council examined the developers plans, made substantive changes to it, and presented the results. The mayor, the, the developers, the environmentalists, and the audience all seemed to go along. And that’s what is happening without any public controversy… just from one Creative Insight Council. It was from examples like this, that the Wisdom Council was unanimously added to the state constitution of Vorarlberg! I don’t think that’s normal for constitutional change. &nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>At the Citizens Assembly in BC I think there were about 10 who voted against the proposal. Some were upset. Of course, the media played that up, as though there was an oppositional battle between equally valid sides. Maybe George Sranko or Caspar Davis or someone more familiar with what happened afterwards could comment.</div><div><div><br></div><div><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre">
    </span>Jim</div><div><br></div><div><div><br></div><div>&nbsp;<br><div><div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></body></html>

  10. Hi again Jim. For you, deliberation means evaluating pre-set options. For me, deliberation means reflecting on the likely consequences and trade-offs involved with ANY set of options. I see no requirement that deliberation involves choosing only from pre-set options, and I see many examples where it doesn’t. But I do see in deliberation (at least in its ideal form) a level of rigor in the evaluation of options – a rigor that is not intrinsic in choice-creating. The strength of choice-creating is its productive use of the latent information, upsets, passions and creativity in the group, transmuting these things into energy that moves the group through many options until one emerges that the group generally – and usually enthusiastically – likes. This energetic process is not characteristic of most deliberation. However, I see no solid evidence that the option that emerges from a choice-creating group is routinely and definitively the best one over time. I can understand not wanting to use the rigorous energy of a deliberation in ways that dampen the free-wheeling creative dance of choice-creation. But I believe it would be very wise to SUBSEQUENTLY have a thorough examination of the option created through choice-creations, actively and rigorously looking for potential problems, consequences, trade-offs, etc. If it seems to be found lacking in specific ways, then by all means, there could be more choice-creating conversation aimed at dealing with the "problems" and "concerns" that were raised by that deliberation. I see the two approaches as potentially VERY valuable in the right combination (as above). I find your "This Is THE Answer" advocacy of "choice-creating" and Dynamic Facilitation – and your determined dissing of deliberation – to actually impede our collective ability to develop better tools and approaches in the future. If the world were a linear place governed by linear mechanical phenomena, then your hyper-advocacy might produce the results you are looking for. The fact that the world is not linear, that it is a living, chaotic, dynamic realm in which living entities have internal and interactive dynamics quite of their own making – a reality that you yourself stress in your teaching – means that much of your PUSH energy generates push-back or turn-away responses in the living beings who encounter it. <br/> <br/>I appreciate your example from Bregenz, and think that whole event and process was a truly good thing. But it does not provide for me adequate evidence of a Wisdom Council or Creative Insight Council (both of which use choice-creating Dynamic Facilitation) creating actual unity in the larger community from which the participants were drawn. A key word in your description is "seemed" (as in "the audience all seemed to go along"). This COULD be because the enthusiastic energy in the room generated collective conformity dynamics which led some of the audience who had concerns to keep their mouths shut, to not "rain on the parade" or "throw themselves in front of the train". These dynamics tend to be well handled when happening INSIDE OF a dynamically facilitated session (although even there they can show up and be overlooked by an enthusiastic supermajority). However, when we’re dealing with an "audience" being presented with the results of such a council, there may not even be the power of a dynamic facilitator (and adequate time) to counter the socially-engrained dynamics of conformity. Beyond that, out in the larger community, there is even less support for transcending conformity (or apathy or polarization or…) – and virtually no research to find out how far and deeply your asserted "unity" has actually spread. <br/>Voting is mechanical, I admit. Even when it is used in an effort to get unanimity, it can get in the way of choice-creating energy. I see certain good consensus processes as in tune with the spirit of choice creation when the facilitator checks for group "unity" by explicitly ASKING FOR CONCERNS whenever an agreement seems to be emerging – and then has the group creatively address those concerns. At the point where no participant has any more concerns, the group assumes that unity (consensus) has been achieved, without a vote. The fact that most DF’d sessions do not do that "checking for concerns" (I think because it potentially breaks the flow of creative energy) is one reason I’m not comfortable with DF claiming that it has achieved "unity" simply because the energy in the room is so vibrant, with the group so loving what it has just created. <br/> <br/>Finally, there’s the issue of "wisdom". Is the option that the group creates "wise"? I maintain that we can’t KNOW this until the future, after the option has had a chance to prove itself in the real world, demonstrating its "long term broad benefit". However, we CAN do things right now to increase our ability to take into account what needs to be taken into account to create options that have a good chance of being wise. I think the kind of creativity that manifests in a DF’d group – especially when that group includes a healthy cross-section of stakeholders and/or randomly selected citizens – has a lot to contribute to enhancing the possibilities for wisdom to emerge. But I don’t think it GUARANTEES it. Much more real research would be needed to prove it to me and more skeptical (or uninformed) observers. AND I think that the rigor of deliberation has comparable gifts to offer in terms of "taking into account what needs to be taken into account for long term broad benefit." <br/> <br/>Regarding the quote you’re searching for: It is from Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper for the Turtle Clan of the Onandaga Iroquois: "We meet and just keep talking until there is nothing left but the obvious truth." And Sitting Bull said, "Let us put our minds together and see what kinds of life we can make for our children." These are good advices which, in our era, can be facilitated by generative use of choice-creation, deliberation, dialogue, and many other forms of productive conversation, interaction, and shared learning.

  11. Tom, a third perspective here, between yours and Jim’s…I agree with you, in that deliberation does not have to be limited to a choice among pre-set options… though at the same time, that is unfortuantely how it is often practiced.The one place I see things differently than you, is that in my experience of choice-creating, the outcomes are very considered indeed. This happens in at least three ways… to begin with, critical thinking is welcomed throughout, in the form of "concerns". Furthermore, part of the spirit of choice-creating, is that choices are not "set in stone"… any new evidence will open up the creative conversation again. And lastly, the creative process itself often energizes people to go out and seek more information, and bring it into the process… and I would not see that as lying "outside" of the choice-creating mode, but as being a part of it.I often wince when I hear Jim describe DF as a process where we "throw all judgment out the window"… what I think he means, is that we create a welcoming environment where creative ideas are protected. As I like to emphasize, it’s a very special environment where BOTH creative thinking AND critical thinking are able to coexist, and that’s what makes it so powerful.with all best wishes,Rosa

  12. I actually fully agree with you, Rosa, that the outcomes of choice-creating conversations are very considered. However, in the choice-creating sessions I have been part of or witnessed, the final "solution" does not get subjected to actual disciplined reflection about potential consequences, side-effects, downsides, etc. of the proposal – especially with the level of expertise often needed to examine all those factors in the case of a truly new option (which choice-creating tends to generate). There is a dynamic facilitation bias to run with the energy that the people who created the idea have for it, and a disinclination to take a break and then come back and take a "devil’s advocate" approach, actively looking for weaknesses and considering how those should be addressed. What HAS been very considered are the concerns that people have expressed en route to that final breakthrough approach – usually concerns about previous proposed solutions that were then discarded in the creative process. The final co-created option, almost by definition, seldom has concerns attached to it – AND there is seldom a formal checking to see if any concerns might be hiding underneath the hot group energy that bubbles around it. <br/> <br/>There are many ways to use critical thinking. Massive amounts of critical thinking happen during choice-creating conversations. However, the kind of final-stage, disciplined critical thinking I refer to above almost never happens. <br/> <br/>I believe that the wisdom-generating power of choice-creating process would be greatly enhanced by a semi-separate process of true deliberation about the strengths and weaknesses of the final proposal, including interviewing experts in the field. This may not be so important, perhaps, when we’re dealing with groups and organizations. However, I see it as VITAL in communities, states and countries dealing with public issues – especially when the choice-creating group is made up of randomly selected citizens. It is just too easy to imagine one has a breakthrough solution and simply be ignorant of major factors that would become real problems if it were implemented. Furthermore, those problems may very well surface in the form of opposition when the proposal is put out into the wider world. Better to handle in "in-house" as best as we can before it is released.

  13. <html><head><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html charset=windows-1252"></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">I like these points. They seem spot on, except for one thing.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>I would add that the Wisdom Council presentation meeting and community gathering should not be associated in any way with the follow-on deliberative component. The Wisdom Council presentation and community meeting is designed to build resonance for the spirit of choice-creating to grow throughout the larger system. The spirit of choice-creating is a difference-appreciation, feelings-evoking creative spirit. Deliberation will kill that creative spirit of inclusion and difference-appreciation.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>I like what they do in Vorarlberg. They assemble knowledgable people in the field of interest for a separate meeting after the Wisdom Council gathering. They call it "the responder meeting" and it’s usually in Open Space format. The responders engage the perspective in a more critical way, that allows to the creative thought process of the community to remain safe from judgment.</div><div><div><br></div><div>Now, when I say this I’m hoping that you will not interpret what I’m saying as me "dissing" deliberation. I’m just describing the reality of the situation … judgment and creativity cannot coexist. I am dedicated to protecting the spirit of choice-creating so that the magical possibilities will not be erased.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>Jim</div><div><br></div><div><div><div><br></div><div><div><div><br></div><div><br><div><div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></body></html>

  14. We’re close on this one, Jim. There are many ways to integrate the need for creativity and the need for critical analysis. <br/> <br/>I like what you describe re Vorarlberg. I can also imagine that, after the Wisdom Council (WC) presentation and community meeting, a Creative Insight Council is convened around the issue under discussion, whose members would include both "knowledgeable people in the field of interest" (diverse experts) AND the previous WC members. They’d engage together in a dynamically facilitated conversation about the WC’s conclusions, in which the need for critical analysis would be filled by the "data" and "concerns" of the experts, with space for the solution to evolve even further. I remember talking with members of the Rogue Valley Wisdom Council over dinner after their presentation and community meeting. They were very pleased with their ultimate focus on funding local education, but were frustrated that they didn’t know enough about the problem to recommend good solutions. I explained to them what a Citizens Jury was. Their response was: "Wow. If only we’d know that that options existed, we could have recommended that a Citizens Jury be convened to study the issue further and make recommendations!" <br/> <br/>All these things fit together. We just have to be creative (yes?) in learning how to design synergistic combinations so that they together produce a better outcome than they each could separately. In particular, as you note, we need to keep them from undermining each other’s unique gifts. I’m totally with you on preserving the creative power of the choice-creation process – and the We the People and community conversation-enhancing powers of Wisdom Councils. I just want to fit in somewhere the analytic and foresight powers of expert-informed deliberation. The combination is potentially extremely powerful and is, sadly, so seldom used.

  15. <html><head><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html charset=windows-1252"></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">Tom, what you are suggesting would be interesting to explore, to bring a group of "knowledgable people" and former Wisdom Council members into a DF’ed setting. But it’s something new. &nbsp;I wouldn’t label it a "Creative Insight Council". The&nbsp;Creative Insight Council is a form of Wisdom Council, randomly selected people working on a predetermined topic.&nbsp;<div><br><div>I guess the question you and I are investigating is … how best to apply expert knowledge and critical thinking to what the Wisdom Council comes up with? I’m fine with someone setting up a deliberative process as some kind of follow on, especially if there are specific options to evaluate. But if&nbsp;we want citizens to co-create intelligent collective choices, choice-creating is the key. I’d set up an ongoing series of Wisdom Council’s and CIC’s. This anchors in place a choice-creating dynamic at the highest level. Then, just like in any DF’ed meeting, people can think critically or judgmentally or be frustrated or whatever. If the facilitative presence is strong enough,&nbsp;the group progresses toward the best answer and&nbsp;all the expertise and judgment are factored in … &nbsp;grist for the mill.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div><div><div><br></div><div><div><br></div><div><br><div><div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></body></html>

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