What We Do - Processes

We are constantly striving for feedback and improvement. As such, we will consider different processes as we progress. Certain processes we used in the past have worked very well, not only within our local organization, but also in other parts of the planet, particularly in Austria. This page is dedicated to inform you about the processes we are currently using.

Wisdom Council

A Wisdom Council is a group of 12 -15 people, chosen from an institution, city or province by a process of random selection. It is important that the members participate as individuals, and not as representatives of any group or special interest. This lets them think and speak from the heart, rather than worrying about what others might want them to say.

A Wisdom Council has no pre-set agenda. It decides for itself what issues to address and how to address them. With the help of a Dynamic Facilitator, it reaches a consensus statement on the issue it has chosen. This consensus statement is presented to the institution, city, or province in a public meeting, and then the Wisdom Council is dissolved. The public meeting starts a discussion that engages the broader community.

After a short interval - perhaps three or six months - a new Wisdom Council is selected, and it goes through the same procedure. It may address the same issue, or a different one. The ongoing Wisdom Councils stimulate a continuing discussion of issues chosen by ordinary people, based on consensus statements drafted by ordinary people speaking from their hearts.

Wisdom Councils were developed by Jim Rough, who is also the founder of Dynamic Facilitiation, the facilitation technique used in Wisdom Councils. Dynamic Facilitation quickly helps people determine and resolve what’s really on their minds. The process builds trust, respect, and the spirit of community, and helps people find solutions even for seemingly impossible problems.

Creative Insight Councils (CIC) provide a parallel process, with the key difference being that topics are assigned to the Insight Council. 

Creative Insight Council

In a Creative Insight Council (CIC), a diverse microcosm of the community comes together to creatively explore a difficult issue, with each person contributing their own perspective to the larger whole. The Creative Insight Council can be composed of a purely random sample, a stratified random sample, or people chosen intentionally to reflect the broad diversity of the larger community. It can be sponsored by a non-profit organization, a coalition of community groups, or a local government agency.

In a CIC, twelve people are selected randomly (e.g. from the voter’s list) to meet for one day, to address a pre-selected issue. The council takes the views of experts and stakeholders into account, discovers new possibilities, and presents its unanimous conclusions.

With complex issues, a series of at least three CICs is the best way to gain deeper insight into known community priorities. This way the larger community can become more involved and affect the public conversation more deeply. Each new CIC takes the issues forward another step, working with fresh eyes and new perspectives, and giving voice to more of the community.

For a detailed description see Creative Insight Council on the Jim Rough's website.

Citizen Insight Council 

Based on the Creative Insight Council, this name was adopted by the City of Victoria for the councils sponsored and convened to help update Victoria's Official Community Plan.  See the Summary Report here (2 meg PDF file).

In 2010, in an effort to hear from as many people as possible the City partnered with Wise Democracy Victoria, to facilitate three Citizen Insight Councils made up of randomly selected citizens.   “This is an exciting initiative,” said Mayor Dean Fortin. “Whether you’re 18 or 85, people have important ideas and insights about our city. The Citizen Insight Councils allow people to come together in a casual setting, hear each other’s ideas and work towards a common goal. The direction set by these groups will benefit the entire community and directly shape Victoria’s future.”
Using a city property database, five-hundred addresses were randomly selected, with letters of invitation sent to the residents.  Follow-up phone calls were made to approximately eighty people on the list.  This process presented any citizen of Victoria 18 years or older with a chance to be selected to participate, providing a unique opportunity for involvement by a wide cross-section of community members.

Altogether, twenty-one individuals accepted the invitation and took part in two CICs, held on May 28-29 and June 5, 2010; with a follow-up CIC in May 2011  For more information on the synthesis of results see www.shapeyourfuturevictoria.ca.

Dynamic Facilitation

Wise Democracy Victoria has facilitators trained in Dynamic Facilitation: a ground-breaking facilitation approach for transforming unproductive group friction into world-class teamwork and innovation. 

See the description by the originator, Jim Rough

Rosa Zubizarreta has written an excellent guide to Dynamic Facilitation:
From Conflict to Creative Collaboration: A User's Guide to Dynamic Facilitation

Also see Tom Atlee's review of Rosa Zubizarreta’s User’s Guide to
Dynamic Facilitation.

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