Imagine a world in which important, top-level policy decisions, such as those regarding nuclear power, higher education or foreign relations were made on the basis of real discussion focused on real facts. In these conversations, hype would be washed away, moderate majorities would probably find more voice, and (hopefully) better decisions would be made – with less residual acrimony and polarization.


John Lennon’s “Imagine” material? I don’t think so.


Working with a group of very serious-minded, yet somewhat playful, coauthors, we envisioned a way to engage the public in such conversations through combining elements of public participation, the power of games, and the capacities of the internet.


In “A Game of Negotiation”,   Christopher Honeyman, Peter Adler, Colin Rule, Roger Strelow, Chittu Nagarajan and I describe the Deliberation Engine, and how this game platform can serve to engage the public on important issues and reach meaningful results. Could this be implemented in practice? We think it could: The technology exists, and augmented with expertise from the negotiation and dispute resolution fields as well as other disciplines (such as collaborative government, game design, and others) could be put to work. We’re hoping to raise this gauntlet ourselves, but we wouldn't mind cooperation, or even competition, in helping us get public conversations back on the track they should be on. Along the road to such big-picture achievements, this notion should be of interest to teachers of negotiation and dispute resolution, some of whom have already agreed for their classrooms to provide  early adopters and participants.

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Comment by John C. Turley on September 1, 2013 at 8:45pm

At Regroup Advisors, we deploy a business model that incorporates mediation and collaborative consulting as integrated methods to increase client performance, productivity, and business process improvement as measured by the client's success criteria.  We evaluate scenarios including new products and services through our collaborative laboratory to provide the client with real-time feedback

With further study, I envision the "Deliberation Engine" as an offering by consultants such as us to provide a war game simulation for clients involved in M&A or any of our core offerings that are part of a large corporate engagement. This might be a next step prior to our final consultative recommendations. The focus on the unvarnished truth and standardized facts is appealing since this is what the parties need to know in a M&A scenario where we would include mediation and collaborative teambuilding.  I further see an application with strategic sales training as offered by the main companies that focus at the CXO levels for consultative solutions to complex issues. 

Finally, there is application with the current diplomatic situation in Syria.  The President and members of Congress might be prime candidates to put the "Deliberation Engine" through its paces.  I'll follow through with Noam to expand upon my comments.


Comment by Noam Ebner on September 2, 2013 at 4:57am

Thanks for this John! those are certainly possible applications of the Engine. Although, I'll note - the president has yet to call. But in its essence - it can provide a very healthy decisionmaking tool for precisely this kind of situation, where it's so hard to tell between hype and reality.


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