A Reflection on September's Webinar on Citizens & Collaboration

September’s webinar on Citizens & Collaboration by Joan Sabott offered an insightful look at the power of collaborative dialogue processes in highly contentious conflicts. Using her work on road sharing issues between motorists and cyclists, as well as local impacts to Colorado communities, she touched on five elements I feel are incredibly important in integrative processes for conflict resolution. The five elements are:

1. Trusting the Process – Again and again, I see the successful application of a clear and defined process for leading people toward mutually-agreeable goals and objectives. By outlining the process upfront with the stakeholders, you are able to create a roadmap, as well as achievable milestones, for the parties engaged in highly contentious conflicts. This helps the parties in conflict visualize the resolution process and see a way out of any positional ruts.

In the case study shared by Joan, the process encouraged participation, ownership, accountability, and creativity from all of the stakeholders involved in the resolution process.

2. Balanced Composition of Stakeholders – The successful resolution of the conflict shared by Joan can be attributed to the balanced composition of stakeholders. Participation extended beyond the direct line of conflict between motorists and cyclists. It included officials and members of local communities, the Department of Transportation, police departments and other key organizations.

By including all of the stakeholders, it provides the resources to understand all of the direct and
indirect impacts of the subject conflict. Additionally, it allows a comprehensive solution to be developed and owned by all affected stakeholders. A balanced composition of stakeholders helps mitigate the risk of creating a solution that creates a negative byproduct for another group.

3. Remember Prevention – While considerable effort was spent on resolving the immediate conflict, similar effort was spent on preventing future conflict. As part of the overall process, the goals and objectives of the group were to develop a sustainable solution that prevented future conflict.

4. Close the Loop –
An integrated solution should include the tools and techniques to monitor the situation. In Joan’s case study, a channel for feedback was established to close the conflict management loop. Access to feedback allows stakeholders and owners to monitor the health of the conflict and the implemented resolution. In addition, Joan’s team established a meeting structure and follow-on frequency to communicate feedback and perform any necessary maintenance to the shared plan.

5. Thoughtful Facilitation – Throughout the process, it was clear that Joan and her facilitation team remained neutral and thoughtful. They stayed in tune with the process and leveraged their tools, techniques, and skills to assist the stake holders.

If you happened to miss September’s webinar, feel free to view the archive [HERE].

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