Public policy disputes have the potential of polarizing communities with the affect of delaying important decisions on vital issues of public policy, often resulting in diluted policies or no action at all. As a result, policy makers tend to avoid controversial issues or postpone crucial decisions hoping to avoid conflict. Facilitation helps resolves some of the high-profile policy disputes and finds resolution through controversy and clarity amidst chaos. To assist governments in resolving disputes by and between each other, the disputants need a trusted third party neutral who is knowledgeable about the issues and the process, while being sensitive to the politics of the issue.
It is time our leaders lead us forward, not back. This starts by reframing the problems plaguing our state or nation in a way that each side could identify with. Once we find a connection to an issue, we are most likely to work hard at finding a resolution. In doing so it is hard to look beyond the politics, but as long as we can agree to concepts and work to make small steps towards building or rebuilding trust in finding a common agenda, our lawmakers can eventually find common ground and those difficult issues, the ones that kept getting put off or “re-authorized,” will move off the agenda so we can focus on the next great challenge.
Great leadership requires finding common ground among diverse interests. The Michigan Legislature needs experienced facilitators to create systems and processes around an issue to help the stakeholders problem-solve and move complex multi-party and often political partisan issues forward.
With the election behind us our legislators need to now find a common ground, build trust and identify potential solutions to agree on and move forward with. Conflict among lawmakers and regulators is inevitable. However, carefully structured dialogues, mediated or facilitated by skilled third-party neutrals could offer a more effective and durable method to resolve conflicts and build consensus around controversial and often complex public policy issues.
We elected our leaders to represent a common mission not a party platform. Yet in legislating, most often it is politics that trump sound public policy. It is time to shift how government decisions are made and for our elected leaders to find a new way forward while seeking consensus instead of controversy. That is the path to smooth roads ahead.