Democracy and power
by Bob Chadwick
We have moved in this country from representative democracy to participative democracy. It doesn't mean that you participate only with those who think like you do. You have to participate with those who you hate, with whom you have that strong a feeling. Because if you don't include them, it's not participative.
Underlying every single conflict is power -- who gets it, who doesn't get it. You have to know how to balance power, to empower, to create an environment where I empower myself.
Legislatures are becoming anachronisms. They're not serving the needs of the public, so the public is going around the legislatures with initiatives, driving them crazy. It's because the power structure is not sharing the power.
There are many ways of defining consensus. The way I define it is simple. You have got to make a decision that is inclusive of everyone. Everyone. One hundred percent.
And if they include Jim here, and Jim says I can't go along with it, your job is not to pressure Jim and make him go along with it. You job is to listen to Jim and ask the question, how can we craft this decision so he's included?
Because if we don't include him, then next time we won't include Phil, Jeff, or Linda.
You come to a lot of meetings where people are setting up auditorium style. You're expecting 150, you set it up for 200. How did the room look? Like everybody wasn't there.
You know how it is, when you're the Board of Education sitting up here, and the first three rows are empty. It's an insult. It's a nonverbal, disrespectful insult. But it comes because you haven't managed your environment.
Learn to manage your symbols, number one. Set up fewer chairs than you expect people. When people come in, and the room's full, people think, "Wow, more people must have showed up than they expected. What a great meeting this must be going to be!" Then you just add chairs.
Ask 12 people to be on a panel. Instead of the Board doing all the talking, you let the public talk. You tell someone, before you start, you're going to do a grounding. And the grounding consists of introduce yourself, your relationship to the issue, how do you feel about it.
Don't ask who wants to start first. If you do that, the one who always speaks first will speak first. Start with someone else. Change the world.
Bob Chadwick at the third annual statewide conference of the WSU/Kellogg Holistic Management project, Spokane, Washington, February 1999