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Is Roz Diane Lasker, MD on your radar screen?

This resource-rich post comes from NCDD member Max Hardy,
 Director of Twyfords
 — a prominent consultancy that works throughout Australia and New Zealand.  Max is co-author of the just-published book The Power of Co: The Smart Leaders’ Guide to Collaborative Governance.  Is Roz on your radar screen?  Leave a comment below to let us know.


I shouldn’t be surprised, yet I am. How have I not stumbled across the work of Roz Lasker MD before now? Let me tell you why I have decided to blog about her work, and what I believe she has to offer the NCDD community.

So who is she?

An amazing woman who has contributed much to the fields of medicine, public health, health policy, emergency preparedness, and collaborative problem solving. Roz was the founding director of the Center for the Advancement of Collaborative Strategies in Health at The New York Academy of Medicine, which commenced in 1995. She has served as the Clinical Professor of Public Health in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.

Prior to joining the Academy, Dr. Lasker served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Policy Development) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More recently, Roz co-authored and published a wonderful book titled Engaging the Community in Decisionmaking: Case Studies Tracking Participation, Voice and Influence.

What insights of hers have really resonated with me?

Roz has most eloquently put the case for the whole reason many of us are in the business of dialogue and deliberation, deliberative democracy, community engagement and collaborative governance. She calls it the expert blind spot. Experts and organisations cannot see everything and know everything. The blind spot represents what decision-makers and experts cannot know (and that they don’t even know that they don’t know).

Engaging those voices directly affected and those voices that are often not heard, or who are invariably dismissed, provides the opportunity for breakthrough learning, more effective responses to crises, and to solve seemingly intractable problems.

Roz asserts that embracing the blind spots is necessary in order to achieve full vision – the vision needed to approach something very complex in a very different way.

It makes sense – and it seems so obvious. Roz shares her insights with conviction, compassion and humility, and provides many practical examples. You can tell that she really believes this stuff and knows how to communicate it to the sceptical. There is something to be learnt about her ability to do this.

Imagine if when answering the challenge we so often hear from the experts, “Why do we need to involve those people?”, we simply answered, “So we can see much, much better!”

“OUR WORK SHOWS THAT THE GENERAL PUBLIC HAS CRUCIAL KNOWLEDGE NO ONE ELSE HAS.”

How can you find out more about Roz Diane Lasker?

I suggest you check out her articles and an enjoyable and compelling video clip where she is interviewed about the blind spot, at http://vimeo.com/19382064.

The expert’s blindspot – by Roz Lasker from HFP on Vimeo.

Synergy in collaborative work

Conceptualization of synergy, identification of the determinants of synergy, tool to assess synergy

  • Lasker RD, Weiss ES, and Miller R. Partnership Synergy: A Practical Framework for Studying and Strengthening the Collaborative Advantage. The Milbank Quarterly 79:179-206, 2001.
  • Weiss ES, Anderson R, and Lasker RD. Making the Most of Collaboration: Exploring the Relationship Between Partnership Synergy and Partnership Functioning. Health Education & Behavior 29:683-698, 2002.
  • Partnership Self-Assessment Tool (www.partnershiptool.net)

Public participation and health

  • Lasker RD and the Members of the Committee on Medicine and Public Health, Medicine & Public Health: The Power of Collaboration.
 Chicago: Health Administration Press. 1997.
  • Lasker RD and Weiss ES. Broadening Participation in Community Problem Solving: A Multidisciplinary Model to Support Collaborative Practice and Research. Journal of Urban Health 80:14-47, 2003.

Public participation and emergency preparedness

Documentation of the need for the public’s knowledge; participatory processes (small group discussions and issue sets) that promote preparedness and build resilience by enabling the public to identify the problems they would face in emergencies and what can be done to address those problems. These resources are available online at www.redefiningreadiness.net.

  • Lasker RD. Looking at Radiological Terrorism through the Eyes of the Public: The First Step in a Meaningful Government-Public Partnership. In Khripunov I, Bolshov L, and Nikonov D (eds) Social and Psychological Effects of Radiological Terrorism. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series E: Human and Societal Dynamics – Vol. 29; pp. 83-93. Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2007.
  • Lasker RD, Hunter ND, Francis SE. With the Public’s Knowledge, We Can Make Sheltering in Place Possible? The New York Academy of Medicine, 2007.
  • Lasker RD. Preparing to Shelter in Place: Issues for Households to Consider; Issues for Work Places to Consider; Issues for Schools and Early Childhood/Youth Programs to Consider; Issues for Governments to Consider. The New York Academy of Medicine, 2007.
  • Lasker RD. With the Public’s Knowledge: A User’s Guide to the Redefining Readiness Small Group Discussion Process. The New York Academy of Medicine, 2009.

Influence in participatory processes

Methods that can be used to track accountability to affected populations and reveal or prevent the co-optation of participatory processes by professionals and others.

  • Lasker RD and Guidry JA. Engaging the Community in Decision Making: Case Studies Tracking Participation, Voice and Influence. McFarland & Company, 2009.
  • Participation and civic leadership (acknowledging and overcoming the expert blind spot)
  • Lasker RD: Engaging Unusual Voices: The Key to Full-Vision Leadership. JKCLD 3(1):82-89,2011

This post was submitted by a member of the NCDD community. NCDD members are leaders and future leaders in the fields of public engagement, conflict resolution, and community problem solving. You, too, can post to the NCDD blog by completing the Add-to-Blog form at www.ncdd.org/submit.

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