On site at a public input meeting, Craig describes four ways for people to give their opinions.
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Here’s what Craig says in the video.
Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.
I am at a meeting – the whole purpose is to gather public input. Tonight we’re in Brunswick, Maine asking people what they think the future of the town should be.
Now, when you ask people to provide information it’s really good if you can ask them to give it in several different ways because you know not everybody is comfortable raising a hand and speaking out loud in public. Sometimes we do that – take a look over here. We did that in this meeting earlier tonight and we showed right on the screen what people said. As they raised their hands and spoke out, we typed their comments.
But that’s not the only way. Also earlier tonight, we asked people to write their comments on these pieces of paper and we put them on the wall. We didn’t know how they were going to be organized. We organized them after we saw all the pieces of paper on the wall.
A third way that we’re asking people to make their comments tonight is by writing on pieces of paper at their tables. Look we’ve got a question right down on the chart and we’re asking people to discuss and write their answers.
That’s not all – come over here. We asked people to draw their ideas on maps. “Where do you want growth to occur in our town? Where do you want no growth?”
Look, the point is that whenever you’re asking for public input ask it in a way that gives many different types of opportunities to give their input. That’s how you help your group make good decisions.
In principle, the connections between us allow a group of us to make better decisions than any one of us could on our own. The connections between things have actual value and this is why the total value of things connected is often greater than the sum of the parts. New energy can be created, or unlocked, just by virtue of things being connected.
The concept is called synergy and it is at work behind the scenes wherever new things are created: new ideas, new plants and creatures, new decisions about our future.
It’s good to have stuff like buildings, roads and accessories but it’s the stuff between the stuff that dramatically adds value; our connections with each other.
Practical Tip: Focus on the relationships rather than on the material gains and losses. Buildings, roads and accessories are important but to make good decisions for our future we also need trust, predictable roles and shared values; the stuff of relationships.
Don’t burn bridges. Try not to even damage them. Better yet, maintain and strengthen them. I once heard a transportation commissioner say that any road is only as good as its worst bridge.
In principle, how things look depends on where you sit. It’s not that one is right and one is wrong, simply that the views are different.
In hierarchical relationships, the person or group at the top has a wider view than the people or groups below. The supervisor considers many things of relative importance at a high level. The subordinate considers fewer things in greater detail. Even though the views may seemingly disagree, each is doing their job, seeing things from their proper perspective.
In other relationships too, our viewpoints are different by design. Tension and initial disagreement are expected. Good group decisions result when we consider all the different views, work out the tension, and identify what’s best for the group as a whole.
Practical Tip: Rather than spend energy arguing which view is correct, assume that all views are correct. Use all available perspectives to better understand what you are looking at.
Ask group members to say how it is for them, how things look from where they sit. Ask people outside the group, “What does it look like from out there?” Listen without judgment.
If you are asked to give your view, offer it without expectation that it will prevail. Speak for yourself, from your own perspective. Humbly offer a piece of the puzzle to help create the larger picture.
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