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Dialogue Design

Dialogue Design

What is dialogue design?



Full Transcript

What does it look like? Well, imagine that you have somewhere in between say 20 and 100 people who need to have quite a complicated conversation about a complicated subject.


Let’s take one of the examples you gave. Like the transport of nuclear waste or development in an environmentally sensitive area, you have anything up to 20 or 30 different parties ranging from government working within certain statutory requirements to commercial organizations who may have an interest in development for example, to local pressure groups who may be looking to safeguard their communities’ interests, to small pressure groups who are working on upholding certain principles and standards, concerned about adjusting to equity and things like that.


You have all these people and you know that the object is to try to bring them to at least a mutual understanding of where they are coming from or what they are trying to achieve. Unlike lots of legal and commercial mediation, there isn’t a deal as such to be done. There is the improvement of understanding, perhaps the hammering out of certain protocols or certain things which people will do or won’t do.


The question is actually, how do you have a conversation with 100 people? How do you get into the subject? How do you get everybody talking about the same issues at the same time? How do you make sure people who are may be less inclined to speak, may be inhibited in some way because of their educational background still have a chance to put their point of view.


How do you prevent the heavy hitters from dominating the conversation? What combination of small group, large group work actually gets you to the point where people are really talking to each other and are really beginning to find ways forward in this situation?


Process design is simply the case of working out about 100 ways how not to do it and trying to come up with one which might work.

About the mediator

Andrew Acland Profile Pic

Andrew Acland specialises in designing and facilitating stakeholder dialogue and consultation processes in complex, multi-party, multi-issue contexts, often with environmental and social sustainability dimensions. Andrew began his working life as a political analyst specialising in East-West relations and arms control. In 1985, while working on the staff of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, he acted as assistant to the Archbishop’s envoy, T... View Mediator