You would like to include citizens and other stakeholders in the decision-making process. Why not just arrange dialogue meetings and invite citizens to attend? Why do you need a strategy? And what would it involve?
The point is that inviting people to a meeting to inform them or to get their views – and then making decisions behind closed doors – cannot be said to be participative decision-making. Pretending to listen to people is not a particularly smart idea. They see through this sooner or later and then you will have sacrificed their trust.
If you really want to include citizens, you need to be clear about how much power you are willing to share with them. Are you willing to open up to a conversation about the real issues? Are you prepared to listen – really listen – and understand why they may critical or what they can contribute? Are you prepared to adjust you position and suspend your judgements? Will you act on insights you gain during such conversations? If there are agreements, will you stick to these?
There may be a willingness to include stakeholders, but how will you do this in a way that works within the current democratic system?
Local and regional authorities have existing decision-making systems. The same applies to organisations. Dialogue is not meant to replace the decision-making system in place. At best it can improve the way in which decisions are made.
At the same time, including others in decision-making processes can create resistance within the organisation from those who are used to making decisions in a different way. Our experience is that a participative process often requires some internal dialogue in order to get everybody on board and supportive of a broader process. Starting an externally focused dialogue without securing support internally is bound to run into problems. The cracks will show sooner or later and this often creates confusion amongst those involved in the dialogue. You can, however, avoid this from happening.
Learn how we can support you in creating a strategy for inclusion and co-creative decision-making.
We have long experience of supporting and coaching decision-makers and dialogue teams in considering and implementing a strategy for dialogue and social mediation in their organisation. We also assist organisations with strategies for single public participation processes and mediation on a large or limited scale.
Our support consists of workshops, coaching and training. This is possible online, via video linkup, or physically (insofar as measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 make this possible)