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The Wisdom Council: 12 Principles

  1. The conveners can just be a group of concerned people, not necessarily government. The conveners spark this systemic change process into being. Key is that the community pays attention. Certainly the governor or president can generate this attention more readily, but it's not essential.
  2. The conveners identify a pool of people to represent the community ... This process involves a random sample of people from the community, so the conveners need to identify a population, like registered voters of the city.
  3. The conveners select eight to 24 Wisdom Council members in a purely random way ... So the pool is identified and a random number generator is used. Ideally, the first twelve selected would choose to come. The conveners may offer babysitting, a stipend, transportation, etc. to make it easier for those chosen to choose to come. Usually, it's not a good idea to stratify the sample, like 50% men and 50% women, etc. With pure sampling the different sub-populations are included in their exact proportions over time.
  4. The conveners provide a "hot" issue to the Wisdom Council (or the Wisdom Council can choose its own). Above all the issue should be something that the community cares about. It's OK if the issue is Ill-defined, complex, or impossible-to-solve, like climate change, influx of refugees, or money in politics. Using Dynamic Facilitation the Wisdom Council will face into the heart of the matter and create a new clarity about the issue, one which resonates throughout the community.
  5. Facilitate the Wisdom Council using Dynamic Facilitation. Key in this process is the quality of thinking within the Wisdom Council. With Dynamic Facilitation each person can act naturally and need not follow any guidelines. However, they find themselves facing the heart of the issue collaboratively and creatively in a way that yields shifts and breakthroughs.
  6. Assure that the Wisdom Council reaches unity ... In this process the group will experience shifts and breakthroughs, which can be gathered into a shared story and results.
  7. Provide an opportunity for the Wisdom Council to present its conclusions to the community ... This presentation goes to the people as well as to the powerful, from the people to the people. it involves a) personal reflections on the experience; a story of how the group made progress through shifts and breakthroughs; and the final results.
  8. Seek to involve the whole community in the resulting conversation. Extra effort may be needed to involve all aspects of the citizenry to come to the presentations or talk in churches, taverns, community halls, and sub-communities.
  9. As much as possible, facilitate the community conversation to be in the spirit of choice-creating. People who hear the Wisdom Council presentation sense the form of conversation that is called for ... not agreeing and disagreeing, but seeking what's best for all. Key is to support this new tone by avoiding agree/disagree language and asking for the sharing of personal responses.
  10. Help the community recognize that one, whole-system conversation is occurring, with emerging resonant views. it helps when people can see what's going on. One question, for instance, might be ... "From hearing the Wisdom Council and your conversations in small groups, to what extent do you think the overall viewpoint of the Wisdom Council reflects the Public Interest?"
  11. Provide an opportunity for action strategies to develop in response. People want action from this process but the Wisdom Council process has no official power. They disband. However, a few weeks after the Wisdom Council presents, it's possible to bring together governmental agencies and civic organizations in an Open Space meeting. There they are in a new situation, supporting the voice of the people, rather than serving without that clear request.
  12. Structure the Wisdom Council process to occur regularly. Ideally this process would be chartered into being by "the People." But usually it must first be set in motion by the conveners and over time the voice of the people will request it. One way is for a local community to sponsor a community Wisdom Council every six months, where local government, the schools, the hospital, the library , etc. can select a topic to be addressed.