In principle, it is a shared vision that holds a group together, a common view of how people want things to be different in the future. If my opinion of how things should change doesn’t overlap with yours in at least a tiny way, we have no reason to work together.
It may be that we disagree on specific approaches—how much money to spend, who to hire, when to do what—but for a good group decision to result we must have a shared vision of the outcome, where we’re heading.
Practical Tip: Identify and write down what we agree that we hope to achieve. For an established group this might be a mission statement, or a vision statement, or a set of goals. For a one-time group (perhaps gathered at a public hearing, for instance), begin with a statement of why the group is gathered and make sure at the outset that everyone is there for the same purpose.
When we may be inclined to disagree, it helps to know we have the same vision.
In principle, trust grows from the link between what we say and what we do. People trust you less if you do not do what you say you will do. Often the problem is not that you just couldn’t get to the thing done that you said you would, it’s that you didn’t speak truth when you volunteered in the first place. Often the error is not that we didn’t do something, it’s that we said we would do something.
Practical Tip: Before you publicly (in a meeting, for instance) volunteer for anything, consider the commitment you are making. For every commitment you make, write something down, either on your calendar or on a to-do list. Don’t just say “I’ll do this or that” because it sounds good in the moment. Words without action are just words and it is action that builds trust.
On site at a public input meeting, Craig describes four ways for people to give their opinions.
This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.
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.
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