Archive for the ‘North American Conference’ Category

Registration in 5 Easy Steps!

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

-4 early bird

You’ve made the decision to go to the Conference, yeah … now what? Just follow these easy steps:

STEP 1: Register for the Conference (if you’re an IAP2 member from outside the USA, contact for the registration code) Read more…

Selling the boss on the 2017 North American Conference

June 26, 2017 Leave a comment

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Do you just know that you need to be at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference in Denver in September, but your manager still needs convincing? These Top Five Reasons should help:

  1. No need to re-invent the wheel – learn from others’ experiences both good and bad. Find out about emerging trends and issues. If you come away with one or two good ideas then you have paid for your conference.
  2. Skill building. There are so many good and effective ways to do public engagement. Find out what they are and bring them back to your workplace.
  3. Networking. Have you ever wanted to pick up the phone or send an email to people that have similar ideas or concerns as you do? How about trying out an idea before you pay for it? Meet those colleagues at the Conference, people are happy to learn and share together.
  4. The conference theme is “P2 for the Greater Good”, and what company doesn’t want to be associated with that.
  5. Good Public Participation = Good Results

Whatever reasons you go with, we hope to see you there. You’ll be in for sessions covering topics running the whole range of the P2 field, as well as “Pathways”: longer “deep-dives” into current P2 affairs, workshops, tours and of course our Core Values Awards Gala.

And remember: there are only a couple of weeks left to get the early-bird rates (another good reason for your manager to make a decision) – US$ 550.00 for members and $700.00 for non-members! As of July 1, those rates go up by $100. We’re also getting a great rate at the host hotel, the Westin Downtown: US $189/night if you book by August 6. See the Conference website for details.

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Are you with a company that supplies or supports public participation? The 2017 IAP2 North American Conference is the ideal way to connect with future partners and renew acquaintances with current and past ones.
Sponsorship opportunities are available to suit any size company or organization: have a look at the Sponsorship Application Kit to find out more!

Learn about Sponsorship  –  Apply Now!

Show Your Support for the Greater Good!

June 21, 2017 Leave a comment

GetToGiving - brandedIAP2 USA and IAP2 Canada are coming together for the second time to help raise funds for our new student scholarship program! The student scholarships help support research in the field, build relationships with universities, and foster the next generation of public engagement leaders.

A Silent Auction will take place on location at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference in Denver, Colorado Sept. 6 – 8. The theme, “Pursuing the greater good: P2 for a changing world” has already inspired donations of baskets of goodies illustrating the diversity, talents and innovation of our supporters far and wide. Your donation doesn’t have to connect to the conference theme and we welcome all creativity! Read more…

Don’t get left up a tree! Join us at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference!

June 6, 2017 Leave a comment

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You have less than a month to take advantage of the early-bird pricing at the Conference. Through June 30 take advantage of discounted, early bird pricing! IAP2 Members pay US $550.00 and non-members pay $700.00. On July 1, those prices go up to $650 and $800, respectively. So register now and assure your spot in Denver! And remember, you can cash in on a great rate at the host hotel, the Westin Downtown$189/night if you book by August 6.

EB SponsorDemocracy BrandedAre you with a company that supplies or supports public participation? The 2017 IAP2 North American Conference is the ideal way to connect with future partners and renew acquaintances with current and past ones.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to suit any size company or organization: have a look at the Sponsorship Application Kit to find out more!

Become a Sponsor!Apply Now!



20170606 EB Redmond AirQualityIncreasingly, people expect to have input into projects that affect the air they breathe, and for many, being told that there are standards or an agency watching over air quality is not enough. Getting members of the public and environmentalists to engage effectively with large polluters is a challenge.

In “When Consultation is Not Enough”, you’ll learn about the Alberta Airshed, which for the past twenty years has brought together the public, environmental groups and industry, to work on decisions that affect the air. They share information on an equal footing. They’ve devised ways of properly monitoring, evaluating and managing air quality – something that requires all stakeholders to make a commitment.

Polarization and partisan anger are part of human nature and have an impact on public participation. Recent political developments have highlighted that reality, and knowing how that nature works can help you prepare for what could be some ugly scenes in P2 processes.

Dr Martin Carcasson, Director of the Center for Public Deliberation at Colorado State University, has spent the past year studying intensively the literature on social psychology, and will share what he’s learned in “Beginning with the Brain in Mind”. Through his presentation and discussion, you will learn how to design processes that avoid triggering negative aspects of human nature, like selective exposure and confirmation bias, and tap into critical positive aspects such as empathy and creativity.

P2 is all about inclusion, and practitioners make a point of making sure ethnic, faith, seniors, youth and immigrant groups, among others, are able to take part in their processes. But did you know that people with disabilities make up the single largest minority group in the US? How do you break down the barriers to their taking part – especially when you might not even know those barriers are there?

Join Penny and Jenni at  “The Final Frontier for Inclusive P2”, where you’ll get an idea of the demographics, the different impacts certain projects can have on people with disabilities and the basic legal framework and budget implications for making your process fully accessible.

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Show North America how we pursue the greater good!

May 31, 2017 Leave a comment

StScholInvest Blog

IAP2 USA and IAP2 Canada are pleased to announce our second joint fundraiser to benefit our new student scholarship programs! The fundraiser will be held at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference in Denver, Colorado Sept. 6-8 as a silent auction of items donated by chapters, businesses, trainers, board members, and generous attendees like you.

Supporting students encourages student membership, relationships with universities, research in the field, and the ongoing vitality and sustainability of our organization. Thank you for considering supporting this great cause.

The theme, “Pursuing the greater good: P2 for a changing world” has already inspired donations of baskets of goodies illustrating what makes our world good for the unique communities near and far that our contributors hail from. Your donation could be related to the conference theme or anything at all. Having a variety of items for conference attendees to bid on will help make the conference more fun and the fundraiser more of a success. Perhaps your company would like to put something together to gain a little marketing benefit as well. Or perhaps your chapter would like to show North America something special about your area’s culture.

Ready to help? All you need to do is bring your silent auction donation with you to the conference!

But if you want to let us drum up more support and interest, please allow us to give you a shout-out of thanks on our social media! Email a fun photo, info about what you’ll be donating, your social media tags and company logo to Anneliese Apel and we’ll be sure to give you our appreciation!

Thank you so much for your help, we need all of it we can get and truly hope you will bring something to contribute!

Kindest regards,

Francesca Patricolo, IAP2 USA Membership Services Committee

Annie Bierbower, IAP2 Intermountain Chapter

Questions? Contact

What in the world is going on? No really… Join us at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference!

May 18, 2017 Leave a comment


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Ways of making sure P2 is part of the plannot an afterthought! What the Aloha State can teach us about engaging multiple cultures! And we’re offering something new: Pathways — interactive “deep dives” into issues. These are just three more reasons why you don’t want to miss the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference!

How would you like to be part of a project to renovate P2 so it’s a more positive and effective process for participant and practitioner?

“Powerfully Positive Questions for P2 in a Changing World” is designed to be a group effort, co-creating the Encyclopedia of Positive Questions for Community Engagement. You’ll spend Thursday and forty-five minutes on Friday in a fun and engaging Appreciative Inquiry process to design this handbook that focuses on what works – rather than what doesn’t – and moves from what we don’t want to what we do. The end result will be a real product that moves the conversation from problems to possibilities.

Have you felt the frustration of being called on to engage stakeholders at a late stage in a project and delivering a half-baked process as a result? Have you had to bite your tongue while designers and planners tell you how to do your job, or had to lecture project leaders on the ways an engagement strategy can influence their project’s success?

It’s all about Getting an Early Seat at the Table, and Dawn Chiasson, will share some insights into ways of getting that seat. You’ll have an opportunity to brainstorm and work through some strategies and come away with new tools to get your point across to project leaders.

Hawai’i has been portrayed, through a mix of marketing and reality, as “paradise”, but increasing social, environmental and cultural activism in the Aloha State is creating a challenge for P2 practitioners. Myriad cultures have co-existed for centuries, but increasing growth and development to satisfy Asian and North American interests is causing dissatisfaction and resentment.

In “When a melting pot of cultures in the middle of the Pacific Ocean becomes a boiling pot for public issues”, Mahina Martin will point out the importance of anticipating stakeholder expectations when dealing with multiple cultures and look at public issues that are often overlooked when tourism is at stake. You’ll come away with tactics you can use when you’re faced with a multicultural scenario.

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Learning! Tools! Techniques! Join us at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference!


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Ideas! Insights! Tools! What you need to apply P2 for the greater good in our changing world!
You’ll find them at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference, September 6 – 8, 2017 in Denver.

Do some organizations – perhaps your own – tend to run “behind the curve” when it comes to reflecting demographic reality? Metro – which administers the three-county metropolitan area around Portland, Oregon – recognized that there was a widening gap between policy-makers and some of the communities.

Metro developed a racial equity strategy that demanded a change not just within the agency but within the people who work there. In “Beyond Inclusion: Community partnerships that transform public service culture”, Metro staff members and a member of Momentum Alliance will present their own experience as a case study, showing you how they laid the foundation for change. You’ll get to take part in small groups that will give you ideas and tools you can use in your own organizations.

 Drumbeat_AncientSoln2EblastOne of the challenges of trust-building is that not everyone marches to the same beat. “An Ancient Solution Re-imagined for Modern Times”, offers an alternative way of getting people together using hand-drumming. Alan Beattie will show how DRUMBEAT® mixes music, psychology and neurobiology to help people connect with others – and themselves. Get an idea of how it works in this video. And yes, you’ll have a chance in the 90-minute session to pound the drums yourself – literally, a hands-on experience! – and see how DRUMBEAT®’s techniques might apply in your own practice. 


Having groups polarized on key issues comes with the territory for P2 practitioners, and veteran communicator Eric Bergman will offer a new way of addressing that issue in his session, “Managing Polarization in Public Consultation”. You’ll learn about The Polarization Model, which helps track, understand and manage polarization, using a spectrum ranging from “Openly Hostile” to “Openly Supportive” with “No Opinion” in the middle. You’ll learn techniques for turning “Openly Hostile” views into something positive.

You’ll also look at bridging truth and transparency, and Eric will offer what he calls a novel definition of transparency: “Ask me anything.”

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Announcing the Schedule for the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference

April 4, 2017 Leave a comment




More than 40 sessions! Three pre-Conference workshops! Something new: Pathways! The schedule is now set for the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference, September 6 – 8 in Denver, Colorado.

Read the full Schedule-at-a-Glance here.

Visit the conference page on the website.

This year’s theme, “Pursuing the Greater Good – P2 for a Changing World”, couldn’t be more timely, and once again, you have an opportunity to consider that theme from a variety of angles and share perspectives and insights.

The pre-conference workshops cover three important topics for P2 professionals: “Bringing More People to the Table”, “Digital Engagement” and “Transportation and P2”.

Pathways are “deep dives” into specific topics; three-hour discussions where you get to set the agenda, co-create and co-host. Those taking part will be able to set the physical and intellectual environment where a small group of people can tackle big questions that ultimately contribute to the field. With Pathways, you can expect an experience that is in-the-moment, dynamic, engaging … and demanding!

From now until June 30, you can take advantage of the early-bird price: US $550 for members and $700 for non-members. For that, you get:

  • workshops or field trips, Wednesday, Sept. 6
  • the welcome reception, Wednesday, Sept. 6
  • all sessions and pathways
  • continental breakfast
  • lunch and lunchtime activities
  • the Core Values Awards gala, Thursday, Sept. 7 – dinner, entertainment and a chance to applaud the best in the business

Conference Scholarships. We want to make sure as many people as possible can participate in a conference on participation, so once again this year, we’re excited to offer scholarships. Full-time students, non-profit staff members, new community advocates and active members of AmeriCorps may apply to have their conference fee covered. Download the application form here.

Are you with an organization that supports P2? Sponsoring the IAP2 North American Conference is a great way to get your corporate or organization message out to the P2 community and at the same time, demonstrate that you believe in the IAP2 principles. We have a variety of options that can fit your marketing budget, including exhibit space, program mentions and presenting sponsor for lunches and the Core Values Awards gala! Download the sponsorship package here. (Standalone Sponsorship Form)

So don’t delay – reserve today! The last two Conferences – Montréal and Portland, Oregon – sold out quickly, and with the Conference theme, the pathways and the presentations, you do not want to miss this! What’s more, our host hotel, the Westin Downtown, is offering a special Conference rate – US $189/night – for those who book by August 6.

See you in the Mile-High City!

Equitable Public Involvement

January 26, 2017 Leave a comment

A reflection on the 2016 IAP2 North American Conference from a U.S. conference scholarship recipient

Aaron Goodman

Aaron Goodman

Aaron Goodman
Community Engagement Manager at Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD)

We’ve all been there: the dreaded community meeting that features more argument than dialogue, leaving residents feeling unheard and disempowered, while meeting organizers wonder why they are getting beat up by angry neighbors.

This circumstance is linked to the fact that all too often, public meetings and hearings are looked at as the beginning and end of public engagement around policy and development decisions that affect local communities. When engagement is treated as an add-on to the “real” decision making or something that is done only to minimally satisfy legal or community requirements it leads to decisions, plans, and developments that likely don’t reflect the input of the whole community.

iap2_pic1Such decisions can actually end up being more costly in time, money, and energy as lack of meaningful community by-in and engagement at the front end of a process results in anger and organized opposition at the back end.  So, if we know what an insufficient engagement process looks like, what exactly is good community engagement and how do you know you are doing it in an equitable manner?

iap2_pic2Who Cares About Public Participation?

This question was on my mind as I attended the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) 2016 North American Conference which took place in Montreal this past September. IAP2 members are community engagement professionals working in a range of fields and dedicated to promoting a holistic approach to engagement.  They are perhaps best known for publishing the “IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation” which provides a practical framework for analyzing various kinds of engagement strategies and tactics as they move from just informing the public to actually empowering residents in decision-making for the future of their communities.

The theme of the conference was “Who Cares About Public Participation?” and it was inspiring to spend two days with folks working across many fields who are passionate about this topic and work hard to increase the impact of meaningful public participation.  This question of “who cares?” also made me think of the tireless neighborhood advocates and organizers in the community development field in Detroit and across Michigan.  Whole-hearted and intentional community engagement and decision-making that drives development speaks to the very core of why I am proud to be in this work.

For many of us, it is the mission of community development to move the needle for the equitable rebuilding of our neighborhoods that includes everyone, in particular the most disadvantaged, and historically dispossessed members of the community. As our cities and communities continue to evolve and change, we know that meaningful and equitable community engagement is critical in pursuing this goal.  The community organizing saying: “Nothing about us, without us, is for us” is particularly relevant for community development work in a time of rising economic, social, and racial inequality in cities.


Raising the Bar for Equitable Community Engagement

By now you may be thinking that these are all great ideals and slogans, but how do we exactly raise the bar for engagement so that we can have better, more inclusive results in our communities?  CDAD’s work in recent years in community planning and engagement has helped us learn a lot about what works and doesn’t, and we have been inspired by innovative practices across the country that center residents in decision-making such as Community Benefits Agreements (currently a hot topic in Detroit), Participatory Budgeting, and expanding access to local Boards and Commissions.

There is also a growing body of research and advocacy that is helping to raise the profile and expectations for meaningful community engagement for both non-profits and local governments.  In addition to IAP2, some of our favorite resources include: Building the Field of Community Engagement, Policy Link Guide to Community Engagement, Authentic Community Engagement – Voices for Racial Justice, and plans for equitable community engagement published by municipal agencies in Seattle and Minneapolis.

For me, attending the IAP2 North American Conference was an energizing experience where I was able to dig in to the best ideas and practices around community engagement, learning and sharing with peers and experts across the field who are working to raise the bar for better, more equitable community engagement. I am excited to bring what I learned in Montreal back my work at CDAD as we continue promote strategies for building trust and relationships that empower the public to meaningfully participate in and impact the changes and development taking place in Detroit.

Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) is Detroit’s association of Community Development and Neighborhood Improvement Organizations and we are a catalyst for the transformation of our neighborhoods, led and inspired by residents, community-based organizations, and other community stakeholders.  CDAD works to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of Detroit’s community-based organizations, initiatives, and residents through advocacy, training, technical assistance, networking opportunities, information sharing, and facilitating common action.


CONFERENCE FLASHBACK: The problem with problems … in a group!

March 30, 2016 1 comment

By Tony Faast, Supreme Commander, Cascade Outreach Group, Trout Lake, WA

We’ve all had to try and solve problems with others – colleagues at work, partners, spouses, neighbors, kids, dogs, etc. These interactions all have their own trials and tribulations, some successful … while some … probably not so much. We’ve also had our share of task groups, advisory committees, collaboratives, self-directed teams, blue ribbon panels, endless committee assignments, etc. … all essentially a group of well-meaning folks trying to solve a problem or complete a project.

In this article, (and in the spirit of David Letterman) … we will briefly discuss:

“The Top Ten reasons groups can’t solve problems!”

#10. They never agree on the problem in the first place!
Groups assemble, some willingly … some not … to solve a problem or accomplish a task. Members are often selected for their varied perspective, knowledge, and experience. It should be no surprise, therefore, when each of the participants argue passionately for the solution to their version of the problem!

When assigned to a group of Biologists to facilitate their deliberations on an issue, I asked them “so…what’s the problem we’re trying to solve?” One of ‘em irritatingly said, “everybody knows what the problem is!” I replied, “oh really … so what is it, hot shot … I’ll write it down”. I didn’t get halfway through the first sentence before somebody said, “hey, that’s not the problem!” As a group, we worked for the next 90 minutes crafting a problem statement all could agree on.

Even if the problem is stated or delivered to the collaborative group, take a few minutes up front to confirm with everyone, the wording of the problem statement, or the goal of the project. As noted, it will actually take more than a few minutes … but it is time well spent.

#9. Decide how to decide … before you have to decide.
You can’t decide the rules in the middle of a fight! First of all it’s not fair, and second, the person who’s breaking the rules thinks you are making up new rules just because they are winning the argument of the moment! Then you’ve got an argument going about that!

Set the rules in play about how decisions will be made, with group agreement, at least one meeting prior to making those decisions, if not at the very first meeting as part of “Rules of Engagement” for the group. These rules are for the important, substantive stuff.

The nickel/dime decisions all groups make along the way can be handled by the facilitator. Phrases like: “I’m sensing agreement on this point – can someone capture it on a chart so we can all see it?” …“it sounds as though this idea won’t fly right now – let’s move on”… or … “unless there is a serious objection, we’ll go with what we’ve written.” These are known as ‘presumptive close’ statements in facilitation lingo.

Have a few phrases of your own on hand before you start.

#8. People love a good fight!
Really … they do! For “Type A” personalities, it’s their interactive method of choice!

Remember, participants are together as a group for different reasons & purposes. For some, no action is a win for them, so arguing long and hard on every issue delays group decisions. If there are no decisions, then no one is a winner … or a loser.

Some are actually not there to solve a problem – they just need to do battle w/opponents. That is what their organization does. They are not interested in the dreaded word “compromise”. Even when the group makes decisions they are not happy with, they can say – “well, at least we went down fighting”! Give them that chance … and no more!

#7. Groups often take on more responsibility than they are given.
It always amazed me that as hard as it was for a group to decide on anything, they often try to take on more stuff to wrangle about! One Citizen task force I worked with had a huge struggle to come up with Angling Regulation recommendations. Yet when that was accomplished, they felt the need to start debating the Fish Division budget, staffing, and Agency priorities as well!

While it’s always fun to decide somebody else’s spending priorities and who gets hired for what, in this instance that was simply … not their call!

I reminded them of the task (agreed upon earlier), reviewed their group decisions on those issues, thanked them for their time, and ended the session! They had done the job they had been asked to do. Enough already!

#6. “More is always better …”
“We need more time … more data … more money … more input … more/different experts” – Horse Feathers! With rare exception, most relevant info and data has been assembled for the group by their convener. Participants walk into the room with all the information they need to solve the problem (with the possible exception of money).

The real problem is not being able, as a group, to AGREE on the solution. It is commonly assumed that the more members, the more data, more info, etc. … the more likely it is to solve the problem. We have rarely found this to be true. BTW – the Feds call this “analysis paralysis”.

A couple more variables to consider:

  • Group size – a minimum of twelve participants and and a maximum of sixteen is recommended for working group size.
  • Participation – always ask “who else needs to be here to solve this?” Only one representative from each interest group, but make sure all groups are represented. Time – any lasting solution or product takes about 4-6 months. If the process lasts for a year or more … forget it! Time is being wasted. People start to drop out, run out of gas, get tired of arguing, look for other ways to solve the problem (i.e. lawsuit), etc. Set a realistic deadline and stick to it!

The “we need more” syndrome is a stall tactic – don’t fall for it.

#5. “Groups are fundamentally incapable of closure on their own!”
— Sue Diciple, World Class Facilitator

Closure on an issue means finality, subjugation of a position, win/lose, group ownership of the solution [which may put some professional oppositionists in an awkward position]. Not all of these actions are seen by participants as a positive thing. They often don’t want to close on an issues because all the things they want – prestige, battle opportunities, position defending, good lunches, etc. are present in the group process. They simply don’t want to quit!

As a participant in a hatchery/wild fisheries task group (always a hot topic in the fish business), we met one full day each month… for 10 months! People loved it! All that time essentially one-on-one with the Fish Division Chief and Staff, at the comfortable Agency Headquarters, great catered lunches, free parking, lots of time for all to passionately plead their case (ad nauseam), lots of heated debate – what’s not to like?

When we finally met as a group … post-decision (whew!) … the Fish Chief innocently asked the group “what’s our next step”? Many wanted to continue meeting (note benefits above). I raised my hand and said “I think we should disband! You asked for my organization’s participation (American Fisheries Society), and you got it. The Commission has publicly acted on our group recommendations – we’re done!” Others glared their disapproval at me … as they just wanted to “keep meeting like this”! [Note: The Fish Chief thanked me after the meeting!]

#4. Groups fail to realize the power of writing stuff down!
Even cryptic written and posted notes can be a critical factor in group solutions.

One task group of 23 Agency Staff (I know, a few too many… but I didn’t pick ‘em) was struggling with their day-long assignment to revise an Agency policy. At 2:00 that afternoon one of the members blurted out, “hey, there it is!” We all snapped a look out the window… but he continued, ”no! no! … there it is on that chart” pointing to one where we had tried out some language earlier that day, got stalled out, and moved on. (Of course, it was posted, because I always post group work where we can see it). He continued … “if we take what Sally just said, and add it to that stuff we did earlier … that’s it!” He was right. We combined the two ideas, vetted it for group agreement, and called it good. We were headed home by 2:30 with the job well done – hours ahead of schedule.

If it’s worth writing down … it’s worth posting! Facilitators call it giving dignity to the process.

#3. “Time…time…time…time is on my side – yes it is!”
—Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones

Sorry Mick, time is not always on your side … and things often tend to get rushed at the end!

Have a FIRM deadline! If your group doesn’t have one, it will be extremely difficult to get them to closure. In most cases, groups will only close on an issue just prior to a deadline. We call it the “term paper syndrome” (like in college, when you finished that paper just after midnite, for an 8:00 AM class – right?) Or, you can observe the same phenomenon by watching the nightly news: a looming National fiscal crisis deadline approaching … with CNN news announcers adding drama to the story … with a countdown clock running in the background … waiting for Congress to act!

Not a great way to do any business, but it’s how groups tend to function.

Another contributing factor in the failure to achieve closure occurs when bureaucrats use the phrase “as long as they’re still talking” … (also see #5). Meaning no Agency action need be taken or policy changed, as long as the Citizen Task Force is still bumbling along … meeting … after meeting … after meeting! Ever hear the phrase, “if the Government does it – it will take forever”?

Remember: twice as long is NEVER twice as good!

#2. 80% rule
Any group can agree on about 80% of a solution! [experienced collective wisdom] Group process is hard work. A lot of information, data, understanding, and point/counter-point discussions take place! By the time the group gets to the 80% mark (thanks to skillful facilitation) they’ve worked hard, and have given the issue their best shot.

This is the perfect time to asses group progress by asking, “have we done all we can do?” It’s ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ to keep a group pounding away on that last issue when it is clear that’s the one issue the group probably can’t resolve. There is a reason why this issue is the last one on the list! Be aware of that moment when the group is simply – DONE!

Alternatively, that last issue might look differently after the other issues have been resolved by the group. That last 20% may take a different group, a different direction, or a different decision-making process to resolve. Don’t let that stall at the end of your process negate the good work folks have put in so far. Call it good and go home!

#1. Individuals within a group need to “manage their own disappointment! ”
The word compromise has gotten a bad rap in the past few years. Hey, in the U.S. State Department, compromise is a goal! Yet, at least in the natural resource business, compromise is a dreaded word – signifying failure to achieve agency or advocate’s perfect solution to usually some pretty pretty tough issues.

We’ve started introducing the phrase “managing your own disappointment” when alluding to the fact that in a collaborative process, not everyone gets everything they want. Adding that phrase to group expectations … up front … acknowledges the reality of collaboration, and makes the many compromises along the way a little easier for folks to accept.

(BTW – you’ll be surprised how often that phrase is used by everyone after it is introduced).

What we also add to that discussion, is the notion that no one group member should have to manage all the disappointment. It wouldn’t be fair, and the whole point of collaboration is to come up with a collective resolution to an issue, plan, or problem. Everyone should have enough comfort with the group decision that they can support it … without dissent! [No whiners, please.] You don’t have to love the end result … we’re simply asking you not to trash it!


So now you know the Top Ten Reasons Groups Can’t Solve Problems. There are probably a few more, but if you can resolve these 10, you are well on your way to successful collaboration! Next time your group stalls out … run down the list for some potential fixes.

OK, one more bit of advice:

When it’s over … it’s over! Get clear direction … have a reasonable timeline … stick to it … do the best the group can do… then say: “thank you” … “good bye” – and move on!

Good luck!