Our workbook was designed to fill a gap: there are very few tools to help you evaluate how effective a particular engagement process like visioning, or “deliberative dialogue” might be in your community, before committing resources. So the success of a particular process is often hit or miss. Misses undermine trust and make future engagement more difficult. This workbook is designed to help you avoid more of the “misses” and use your resources wisely! We have set out below comments received from some of our readers and reviewers. You can review a complete set of comments on our workbook page.
“This publication is a useful tool for governments and their constituents who are about to embark on a major project that will have transformational effects on their communities. . . .Read and Overfelt have designed a set of diagnostic tools that enable the key players to envision, design and implement effective strategies and development plans in a collaborative and systematic manner. . . .This “diagnostic workbook” should become a part of the toolbox for all communities seeking a more promising future.” (William A. Johnson, Jr., retired Mayor, Rochester, New York)
“This workbook provides a practical tool for both understanding and guiding the process of facilitating meaningful community dialogue.” (Bill Watkins, retired City Manager, Columbia, Missouri)
“It is really very good. Thanks!” (Yunfeng Deng, City Manager, Qingdao, Shandong Province, China).
“As a more data driven manager I like the calculation process of scoring. Once you walk through the process, it makes sense. All of the calculations leading up to the overall score are fair, neutral, and data-based. If you are embarking on a public dialogue/input process, working through these calculations can be a very helpful way to both identify and minimize civic conflict before hand.” (Paula Hertwig Hopkins, City Manager, Warrensburg, Missouri)
We were also asked by one potential reader: How does this workbook differ from the NLC’s Civic Index or the NCOC Civic Health Index? Here is our response:
This is a different model than either the Civic Index or the Civic Health Index developed by the NCOC although there are some areas of overlap. What our tool is designed to do is to help planners map out the “conflict terrain” in a particular community so as to better assess whether or how well a collaborative process might work at a particular point in time, and to plan for productive dialogue. It provides for an integrated look at three key components, “assets”, “conflicts”, and “intensity”. The “asset” section would encompass the “civic infrastructure” strengths and weaknesses considered in the Civic Index and the civic participation activities looked at in the Civic Health Index, but also includes some additional components. The conflict section is designed to identify both current and long simmering conflicts and their core sources (as mapped to conflict theory – differences in information/interests/values/relationships/structure). Working through the analysis outlined in the workbook would help identify the points of intersection among conflicts, interrelationships among groups involved in the conflicts, and conflict or grievance “themes”. It is these intersections, relationships and themes that help identify “hot spots” or potential breaks or impasses when planning for engagement. In addition we have provided a means of scoring the intensity level of various conflict components which would help you analyze the volatility of various issues and the potential for flare-ups or disruption. You can think of it as a kind of “3D mapping” tool for conflict in the community. Knowing the terrain you will be traveling helps the progress of any journey!