Many of the suggestions for creating Open Government advocate for open forums for dialog and deliberation. How do we get there from here?
Let's consider some of the factors that contribute to where we are before we can talk about where we're going: We are having a financial meltdown affecting every person, community and state in this country. We are spending at least half of our budget on war and all its components and don't have enough funds for domestic needs. Our schools and infrastructure are a huge mess, on the verge of disaster in many places. Climate change is causing more natural disasters. Our political system and its citizens are polarized. We are in crisis or heading that way. Another challenge to implementing Open Government is that our history and culture is one of domination, by class, by authority, by race, religion, gender. We don't have the cultural habits of mutual respect, working for mutual benefit, consideration, cooperation, inclusion, generosity, and kindness. All among the qualities needed for true democracy.
We will be more successful by approaching the transition to open government by understanding the stages of culture from a state of crisis to the potential of building a resilient true democracy. By learning to recognize the stage the group or individuals are in facilitators can use the most effective leadership strategies and support the needs of the situation.
We can expand the corps of leaders, public, government and private, knowledgeable in 1. crisis management, 2. creating security, 3. helping groups become proactive and 4. building resilience though dialog. Educating people to facilitate communities, organizations, business, and individuals to emerge from the trauma of crisis to becoming self-reliant, self-organizing, innovative and resilient are the building blocks of true democracy.
People often resist or ignore the effects of crisis or the need for transition until it becomes a no choice choice. They can become either helpless, a hindrance or helpful. Prepared facilitators, leaders, managers and citizens can guide the changes to move beyond crisis to becoming self-reliant and whole.
To guide the process it's helpful to:
• Know where you are:
Recognize the characteristics and objectives of each of the stages of transition from crisis to resilience.
• Know who you’re dealing with:
Identify psychological, social and behavioral profiles of the participants.
• Know what to do:
Learn the interventions and facilitation strategies that are most effective to meet needs.
• Know what NOT to do:
Avoid unintended consequences and misunderstandings and shift ineffective strategies.
• Know when to move on:
Learn the factors that signal optimal time to transition.
Being the Most Effective Together
This framework can be used to map a whole system of the many processes and tools presented in this forum and beyond— across four stages indicating when they can achieve optimal effectiveness. For example; Visual Recording would be very effective in Stage 1- Crisis, to make very clear, large visual aids for quick comprehension, and in Stage 2 - coordinating basic security for mapping services. Processes that create a context for dialog and deliberation could be used when people are in Stage 3 & 4- as they are ready to participate in groups.
This is from my experience as a facilitator and organizational development professional.
For more information http://crisis2resilience.com, feel free to contact me. Hina Pendle, PhD, Hina@uspartners.com