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Methods to Feature at NCDD 2008

During the plenary sessions at the 2002, 2004 and 2006 National Conferences on Dialogue & Deliberation, we’ve showcased a number of great large-group D&D methods. We’ve used these methods to help reach our goals for the conference – helping participants incorporate their learning, network with one another, set priorities, shape the future of the D&D community, etc. Sometimes we stayed fairly pure with the process, and other times we adapted them in major ways to better suit our needs.

photo from a 2002 NCDD plenaryWe have experimented with these methodologies at NCDD conferences so far:

  • 21st Century Town Meeting (high-tech in 2002, low-tech in 2006)
  • Conversation Cafe (2004)
  • Future Search (2006)
  • Inquiry Circle/Reflective Panel (2004 and 2006)
  • Intergroup Dialogue (2002)
  • Open Space (2006) and Birds of a Feather (2004)
  • Playback Theatre (2004)
  • Study Circles’ Action Forum (2002)
  • World Cafe (2004)

Although we don’t want to commit to methods before we develop our theme and goals for the Austin conference, people are always suggesting methods that we should use – some of which we haven’t experimented with before. One of the things I’d like to do with the planning team this year is to host a series of conference calls featuring “guest speakers” who represent innovative methods we might want to consider using. This way, planning team members can benefit from a unique educational opportunity while we work on conference content AND strengthen NCDD’s relationship with some leaders in the field.

So far, the following methods and leaders have emerged as possibilities…

  • Appreciative Inquiry (? – anyone know who would be a good spokesperson for AI?)
  • Deliberative Polling (Jim Fishkin)
  • Polarity Management (Barry Johnson)
  • Wisdom Council (Jim Rough)

What other methods do people think we should consider using during our plenary sessions – and holding informative conference calls on?

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. Sharon Almerigi says:

    If you haven't highlighted Jim Rough in a large group process that might be a good one because I believe that his process focuses on what people are feeling strongly about and helps them identify areas of potential change.

  2. Personally I would be very interested in participating in Jim’s work, so count one voice for this approach. I am particularly interested in methods that can weave together networks of networks–linking grassroots groups who may work in different places or even on different topics. What is out there that looks at this aspect of our work?

  3. Sandy says:

    Thanks for commenting, Sharon and Joseph! We’ll definitely be talking about how we might utilize/feature the Wisdom Council at the conference (Jim, in fact, has already sent us a proposal about this) – but I’d rather have us brainstorm at this point.

    What other methods do people think we should feature? And does anyone know of a method that does what Joseph would like to see (weaving and linking multiple networks and groups)?

  4. Deborah Goldblatt says:

    On your question about a spokesperson for AI, Sheila McNamee, Taos Institute, came to mind. You may remember her, Sandy, from the Whitman Retreat, and where you can find her listed on that roster.
    She may also be a good person to ask about other processes for weaving and linking multiple networks.

  5. Gill Wyatt says:

    I would also support Jim Rough for the large group.

    With regards offering a new suggestion … how about Bohmian Dialogue? It should work well across different 'groups' and 'subgroups'. With regards somebody to run the teachin re this … not so sure … maybe the main list of NCDD could suggest somebody.

  6. Folorunsho Moshood says:

    I think Sandy has done tremendously well with her style and strategy. But we must not forget the fact that we are having some 'rookies' among us who need either capacity development or building or both in all these suggested methods. We can combine all the possible methods into one unique program and allow EXPERTS to guide and counsel the team in a Meet-The-Expert Session, which will be very interactive. This session should preceed the conference proper. It will definitely stimulate the interest of every member in all the methods.

  7. Katie Moore says:

    Jane Watkins was recommended to me as a good speaker for AI. I do not know Jane but need to contact her for other reasons. I will be sure to let her know about the conference.
    Here is a link to an interview with Jane by Pagasus Communications (a little dated at 2002): http://www.pegasuscom.com/levpoints/watkinsint.ht

  8. John Miller says:

    You asked: "What other methods do people think we should consider using during our plenary sessions – and holding informative conference calls on?"

    ToP Methods from ICA (Institute of Cultural Affairs http://www.ica-usa.org) and TTN (ToP Trainer's Network).

    Let me put my bias on the table: I decided to work closely with ICA precisely because of the depth behind their methods. For example, anybody who thinks the Consensus Workshop Method is about sticking cards on the wall has completely missed the point.

    Here are the 3 initial ToP methodologies that D&D practitioners would get something out of:

    1) Focused Conversation Method (for opening up dialogue usually within smaller groups AND a lot more uses). See books:
    – The Art of Focused Conversations, by Brian Stanfield
    – The Art of Focused Conversations For Schools, by Jo Nelson.

    2) The Consensus Workshop Method (by far the most "determined" and integrated methodology available for medium-to-large group decision making)

    3) Participatory Strategic Planning (If you know the other 2 pretty well, then there is a brilliant way to combine them to enable a whole group of people to come up with realistic yet inspiring strategies they are actually committed to.)

  9. Diane Fletcher says:

    In regards to AI, I know both Jane and Sheila mentioned in previous posts and in my humble opinion they are both outstanding. I have had the wonderful opportunity to study and work with Jane over the last few years. She wrote one of the best books on AI, "Change at the Speed of Imagination" and is one of the founders of AI Consulting along with AI thought leader David Cooperrider. She has worked extensively all over the world and was a keynote at a conference in Disney on the "Power of Positive Change" along with David Cooperrider, Martin Seligman, and Marcus Buckingham.

    Sheila McNamee is co-author of the book "Relational Responsibility, Resources for Sustainable Dialgue" and I have had the great fortune of attending a workshop with Sheila on social constructionism in Taos.

    I would also like to toss into the mix of ideas a relatively new concept I got a chance to do some training in last fall called "Social Analysis System", (SAS) "a body of techniques and software tools that help people move beyond the 'technical fix' approach to social change and development, taking the social dimension seriously in projects that require effective dialogue between stakeholders."

    These were developed by Jacques Chevelier at Carleton University in Ottawa. Jacques and his colleague Daniel Buckles have used these techniques all over the world.

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