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Working Assumptions.

Several working premises or assumptions inform the practice of collaboration. These assumptions contrast starkly with the usual assumptions about how public decisions are made.

  • Political practices must be congruent and compatible with the commitment to democracy and a healthy civil society.
  • The quality of public decisions stems directly from the quality of the engagement used to make them.
  • Public decisions must respond to the real needs of the community or region.
  • People in a place should have some control over the forces that impact their lives.
  • Understanding of others and of essential information about public concerns comes before judgment and decision.
  • Constructive ways for bridging cultural boundaries will not be the norm of any one participating culture.
  • In order for collaboration to work, all participants must engage as peers.
  • If you are going to collaborate, collaborate.

Basic Concepts

Collaboration, as an alternative strategy for addressing public concerns, has developed as a response to the increasingly destructive consequences of current political practices. Several closely related concepts shape how we can work together differently:

Adaptive Work
Finding solutions to complex problems will often require us to examine values and practices and bring them in line with each other. As the nature of the challenges become clear we may discover that both values and practices need to evolve.
Collaboration works on three foundational concepts of facilitation: we move from small agreements to big one; we stay on the same process page at the same time ; and, we spend as much time designing the work as we do working together.

Holding Environment
Since the values, positions, and interests of various parties may differ, the collaborative process is going to have to provide an setting in which conflicts and distrust can be articulated and addressed, and in which adaptive work can be done.
Consensus-based Decision Making
Collaboration seeks consensus or broad agreement rather than relying on win-lose decision making. Looking for consensus helps us explore the innovative solutions and strategies which emerge as we engage with each other.