You’d think that trying to figure out how to stop the erosion, protect other important riparian qualities, and exploring how to make the most of the potential the riverfront offers to enhance the town . . . and its residents’ quality of life . . . would be such a feel-good planning effort that it wouldn't create much controversy. (Yes, we know, we DO teach that “every solution to a problem will HURT some interests.” But, get real, who is going to oppose THIS kind of planning effort?)
Well – you guessed it – a handful of people became fairly unglued, . . . felt threatened, . . . got quite polarized, . . . dug in their heels, and set off a raucous of protests!
In short, what our friends proposed is EXACTLY what we would have proposed: A "Time-Out." Even though the protests didn't seem entirely rational considering the work (i.e. improvements) being proposed,,to ignore them would be a serious mistake.
Although they didn’t call it a "Time-Out," that’s what stepping back and focusing on the questions “IS there a problem?” . . . And, “IF there IS a problem, WHOSE responsibility is it to do something about it?” amounts to.
When some potentially affected interests go ballistic for no obvious reason . . . When their hard-to-understand behavior derails – or threatens to derail – the planning process, you’ve got to get people back to basics:
Strong, clear answers to these questions form the basis of legitimate planning and give a great example for why calling a "Time Out" is nothing but common sense!
Bleiker Life Preserver Brownbag Topics May 2011 • (0) Comments
As a result, we felt it might be necessary to post a reminder that moving such fierce opponents from a staunch position to willingly giving their Informed Consent is the purpose and point of ALL of these Brownbag sessions, as well as our Consent-Building training.
(It is also worth noting that those folks who have been through our SDIC (Systematic Development of Informed Consent) course will get far more out of these Brownbag sessions than those who have yet to go through that most basic training.)
What we teach is first a means to understanding WHY your PAIs are opposed to even your best work, and then WHAT you can do about it. . . Again, to move them up from being Over-My-Dead-Body opponents, to PAIs who give their grudging Informed Consent.
However, none of what you will learn from us is a gimmick. Most gimmicks are slick, spin-based, and illegitimate. You don't need gimmicks if you are serious about being a public-sector problem-solver, who realizes that the project you and your colleagues are working on is just one of many to come; your credibility and mission cannot afford that! Don't fall into the temptation to use gimmicks.
But, if you are going to become an Implementation Genius, it's YOU that needs to change. How your approach your PAIs, your projects, and your overall mission. And as most of us already know, changing old habits generally takes a lot of time and effort, but it IS doable.
If you are ready to undergo a paradigm shift and really communicate with your PAIs and constantly work at developing Informed Consent from your work's opponents, you will likely notice positive changes overnight.
That in itself is pretty darn amazing, and the closest we can offer to a quick-fix, but with a lot more depth!
Brownbag Topics March 2011 Implementation Geniuses Informed Consent Mistrust NIMBY Us vs. Them • (0) Comments
Here’s how she put it:
I just participated in my first Brownbag on the topic of "Consent vs. Consensus" (March 2011). I appreciate that your target audience comprises public agencies, which is where I wear my professional hat. However, I wonder if you have any resources for how public participants (my citizen persona) can "be reasonable" and work on GIVING informed consent and encouraging others to participate in a way that allows for consent?
OK . . . Good question! . . . Interesting angle! . . . After all, public officials are ALSO citizens in another context!
There really are two situations in which this question arises. Let’s call them Situations “A” and “B.”
In this situation you ARE criticizing their proposal. But, you don’t just want to find fault, you really want to be helpful.
In that case you’re probably asking:
This is where you are fully supportive of what the school board is proposing. You find nothing wrong with it, but there are plenty of other parents and other stakeholders who DO object to the board’s proposal.
In that situation, you might be asking:
First of all, as you hinted in the original email, it truly IS the school board’s job to develop Informed Consent for whatever they are proposing. . . No one else can really do it FOR them.
What’s helpful in both scenarios is if you make sure that the criticism (in “A” your criticism, in “B” the other parents’ criticism) is explained in terms of the four Life-Preserver points (revisit your notes, or purchase a copy of the recording from the October 2010 Brownbag on: “Using the Bleiker Life-Preserver as a Quick-and-Dirty Consent-Building Tactic”):
To the degree you can make some, or all, of these things happen, you will play a constructive role as a citizen in HELPING the school board develop the public’s Informed Consent . . . But, it won’t – and can’t – be a substitute for THEM doing THEIR job.
Bleiker Life Preserver Brownbag Topics March 2011 Informed Consent • (0) Comments
Because this is a question we often hear from public officials, we think it deserves an answer on the Blog.
If our friend in Alaska had gone through our SDIC course, he probably would not have asked that question, and here’s why. . .
He would understand that:
Whether you move them up or not is up to you; it’s not up to them. More specifically, it depends on how good a Consent-Builder you are!
This analogy is no exaggeration. After all, if you see phenomenally good golfers, it is UNBELIEVABLE the control they have over that ball! (Friends who had tickets to the US Open at Pebble Beach – which is just a couple of miles from our house – gave us tickets for the day they could not attend. And, that’s what we did: we followed a couple of these phenomenally good players around the course. The skill these people have is stunning!)
Well, that’s what it’s like to watch Implementation Geniuses communicate with their publics . . . which, of course, always means . . . how they communicate with their OPPONENTS -- their fiercest opponents. Like professional golfers who flock to the hardest courses, Implementation Geniuses put most of their effort into the most challenging PAIs.
Because it IS stunning to see what Implementation Geniuses do, that’s why we have been studying them and their methods for the last 40+ years. There’s NO COMPARISON between their approach to public outreach and what most agencies do . . . !!!
Brownbag Topics March 2011 Implementation Geniuses Informed Consent • (2) Comments
In other words, are we truly giving our "Informed Consent" when we’re handed a piece of paper with several paragraphs of fine print on them, and we’re told
The fine print, if we DO read it, usually stipulates – in one way or another -- that we accept all responsibility if anything goes wrong.
The same goes for all the “I Accept" buttons we push on our computers when we download new software . . . Software to which we DO entrust our work and the fruits of our creativity.
Do ANY of you ever READ those long, paragraph-after-paragraph fine print of liability disclaimers? (We have a few times . . . but, have concluded, what are we going to do? . . . NOT use the software we just paid several hundred dollars for...?)
But, if something REALLY serious goes wrong . . . It probably will turn out NOT to have been complete "Informed Consent."
It’s NOT Informed Consent unless the person signing the document – or pushing the button – says to him/herself AFTER things have gone wrong:
The point for you, me, and anyone working in the public arena is that this kind of disclaimer may make sense in many business situations; but, they are NOT appropriate for the work we are engaged in.
Like the nurse in the referenced article, for us there are no shortcuts.
There are so many people who sue for the most trivial reasons . . . Just to have the business in question settle out of court to get rid of the harassing suit.
For some people it IS a way of earning a living; call it "modern highway robbery." Though these liability disclaimers ARE rather superficial "Consent" statements, they probably eliminate 99% of the potential frivolous lawsuits.
Brownbag Topics March 2011 Informed Consent • (0) Comments