Co-Laboratories of Democracy
Co-Laboratories make democracy work in complex real-life situations. They employ the Structured Design Process (SDP) that respects the autonomy of all participants, and utilizes an array of consensus tools – including discipline, technology and graphics – that allow stakeholders to understand each other, respect each other’s priorities, and go beyond consent on action plans to actual consensus.
We have all experienced the benefits of dialogue when we openly and thoughtfully confront issues. We have also experienced the frustration of interminable discussion that does not lead to progress. STP enables large, diverse groups to dialogue and generate positive results. Many group processes engender enthusiasm and good feeling as people share their concerns and hopes with each other. SDP goes beyond this initial euphoria to:
- Discover root causes;
- Adopt consensual action plans;
- Develop teams dedicated to implementing those plans; and
- Generate lasting bonds of respect, trust, and cooperation.
SDP is a refinement of Interactive Management, a decision and design methodology developed over the past 30 years to deal with complex situations involving diverse stakeholders. It has been successfully employed all over the world in situations of uncertainty and conflict. On Cyprus, for example, it has been used to bridge the divide between the Turkish and Greek factions on the island. It is currently being employed on that island to help Palestinian authorities organize their government.
Co-Laboratories in one day draw together a diverse group of people on an issue, elicit authentic feelings and respectful listening, generate agreed upon language, and identify leverage points for effective action. Participants generate a consensual action plan. Co-Laboratories generate real respect, understanding, and cooperation among participants— and do it rapidly.