Wisdom Councils in FE News

Andrea Gewessler has written two articles on Wisdom Councils for
FE News, the Further Education, Skills and Work Based Learning online news magazine.  Andrea is interested in finding useful ways for engaging with organisations and communities to bring about meaningful and lasting change.  Having been a participant and a facilitator of the Wisdom Council process, Andrea believes that Wisdom Councils have a lot to contribute towards exploring the role of democracy in solving many of the complex problems that ail our society. 

In her first article, A Matter of Democracy, Andrea concludes by describing her experience with Dynamic Facilitation and Wisdom Councils:

"What resonates deeply with me is that Dynamic Facilitation intends to work with the complexity of an issue and therefore focuses on the system rather than its components. Although tougher for the facilitator, there is a high level of scope for change that goes well beyond doctoring symptoms. Wisdom Councils appeal because they want to work with this passion that people have for complex issues and quite different from Stephen Covey╩╝s recommendation in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for people to concentrate on their circle of control and influence i.e. the things that they can directly influence and control such as their diet, their own education and exercise habits, Wisdom Councils want to get people involved in the circle of concerns. These are the things that we often feel powerless to change. Wisdom Councils are a mechanism for organisations and society to reclaim that ability to influence and co-create. I can see huge potential for using wisdom councils to engage learners, employees and local communities and for people to have a say on things that really matter to them."

For Andrea's second article, Approaches to change,  she interviewed Dr Manfred Hellrigl, Director of the Office for Future Affairs in Vorarlberg, Austria about some of the successes they've had with Wisdom Councils.   Andrea writes:
"...these approaches give politicians finally a way of really knowing what concerns their local citizens, what their pains and wishes are and are so able to work much more productively for the people who elected them.  Instead of double guessing they tap into the wisdom of the people.  And that insight is not just there, it gets created through and amidst the conversation. 

What the Office for Future Affairs has learnt is that these approaches work particularly well in two cases, firstly with communities which are simply innovative, who welcome change and creativity and always want to improve further – they really appreciate the insights gained from this type of work. 

Secondly, they also find these approaches work when communities are at the end of their tether – when a problem has become so painful that a solution simply has to be found.  The fact however is, that this is a continuum with a rather large middle that remains fearful of embracing approaches that enable self-organisation, that open up choice creating dialogue, innovative solutions and allow people to take responsibility.

These are excerpts... please read Andrea's complete articles at FE News:
1. A Matter of Democracy, and 2. Approaches to change

Wise Democracy Victoria (WDV) has Dynamic Facilitators available for organizations and businesses interested in achiving breakthrough results.  WDV has completed three randomly-selected Wisdom Councils and three randomly-selected Creative Insight Councils for the City of Victoria.   For more information on the synthesis of results see www.shapeyourfuturevictoria.ca.  Also see the review of Citizen Insight Councils Victoria 2010-11 (loads a separate pdf file).

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