Stakeholder decision making processes become complex and difficult when the results could create major impacts on the goals and interests of the participants. The more likely the stakeholder process could end up with winners and losers, the better run the meetings and process need to be, the more important the definitions of membership and voting process, and the more time that needs to be invested by all.
An excellent overview of how stakeholder dispute resolution processes should run is in this short piece “Community Dispute Resolution: Building Consensus on Public Policy” by Susan Sherry and Sharon Huntsman of the California Center for Public Dispute Resolution.
Decision making “bylaws” will be critical to success. Who is a member and how many meetings do they need to have attended before they can vote? What occurs if a decision must be made (e.g. a grant deadline will be missed) and only a few members are opposed? Are there “fall back” voting procedures? These and other issues have been addressed in the below document.
Problem solving at a watershed level and stakeholder processes are relatively new to our society. They can be sinkholes of wasted time or processes that build trust, achieve major agreements, gain a lot of resources and implement environmental improvements in the to watershed. We all need to learn more about how to make the best use of everyone’s limited time and resources. We hope the information on our website helps. Call us for more information.