OCDR helps government and citizens find better ways to work together on important public issues.   Using assessment, mediation, facilitation, and process design, we help our clients to achieve effective and efficient results.

          Public Policy Dispute Resolution and Consensus Building

Public issues continue to become more complex and contentious.  Fortunately collaborative approaches have of a proven track record of producing effective and efficient solutions to these challenges. We help you find solutions through:.
  • Preliminary consultation to explore the issue under dispute and how OCDR can help
  • Issue assessment to evaluate the opportunities for collaborative solutions
  • Process design to leverage financial resources, information and participants' time
  • Convening to bring parties to the table, and foster their commitment to collaborate
  • Facilitator recruitment to help parties select the most skilled facilitator for the project
  • Consensus building to ensure open discussion and consideration of all viewpoints

Preliminary consultation
OCDR offers preliminary consultation at no charge. Contact us at  651-539-1404 or to speak with an experienced staff person. OCDR staff will explore the nature of the conflict, the potential for a collaborative approach and how OCDR services fit with your needs.

Issuet assessment

Conflict assessment by a neutral third party like OCDR is an important first step in finding constructive approaches to resolving public conflicts. During the assessment, an OCDR staff person or contracted facilitator talks with parties who may be impacted by the issue under dispute; assesses the causes of the conflict, the underlying issues and the parties' interests; and offers recommendations about the feasibility of using a consensus-building process to resolve the dispute. Issue assessments vary in complexity and may result in a written report or oral recommendations.

Process design
Structuring a complex, multi-party collaborative process takes thoughtful, informed design. After a conflict assessment, OCDR helps design a cost-effective process for engaging relevant parties in the process, providing needed technical information, fostering constructive dialogue, tracking group progress and decisions, and crafting agreements that are durable, implementable and reflective of diverse interests. The process design takes into account time, budget, and project staffing constraints when determining project feasibility and best approaches.

OCDR does the upfront work to "convene" the collaborative group, bringing all the parties to the table committed to working together to solve the problem. Sometimes a political or community leader or a government agency will call the needed parties together to address a public issue. In that case, OCDR provides neutral assistance to create and unbiased, inclusive, transparent and efficient process, and also offers guidance to the convenor about collaborative approaches.

Facilitator recruitment
OCDR helps convenors and project participants select qualified, experienced facilitators well-suited to lead groups to consensus on even the most technical or contentious issues. OCDR uses in-house facilitators or private practitioners from the highly-skilled pool and provides ongoing quality control to uphold high ethical and technical standards. OCDR’s role in recruitment is tailored to the needs of the project convenors and participants and ranges from identifying candidates and coordinating interviews to evaluating candidates and recommending finalists for the group to choose from. In all cases, project convenors and participants shape the recruitment methods and make the final facilitator selection.

Consensus building
Consensus building describes a range of collaborative decision-making processes in which a facilitator helps people with diverse interests work together to agree on solutions all members of the group can support. Consensus building processes typically encourage dialogue, clarify areas of agreement and disagreement, improve information used in the process, and resolve controversial issues using structured, face-to-face interaction among stakeholders. The goal of consensus building is to gain early participation from affected interests with differing viewpoints, produce sound policies with a wide range of support, and reduce the likelihood of subsequent disagreements or legal challenges.

Additional Services

Consultation and System Design
OCDR works with state and local government to implement or enhance collaborative and alternative dispute resolution systems and programs.  Consultation services for existing programs include best practices, networking, expansion plans, and coaching. 
System design for new programs includes guidance on how to launch mediation and other conflict management programs, deal with organizational resistance and constraints, ensure that the design fits the larger organizational culture and regulatory scheme, motivate people to use the system, and evaluate the system to determine if it works. The design process involves consulting the legislation, regulations and rules under which the collaborative system will operate; assessing organizational systems and goals; interviewing employees and stakeholders; facilitating collaborative and participatory design processes; preparing policies, procedures and forms; recruiting and training neutrals; and orienting agency or court staff on how to effectively use the dispute resolution program or system.

Capacity-Building & Training

Training on collaborative processes and dispute resolution is provided to state and municipal officials and employees, and citizens involved in public projects. We offer a broad variety of skill-building trainings including Negotiation, Mediation, Consensus-building, Arbitration, Conciliation, Conflict Resolution, Facilitation, and Communication with the Public. Trainings range from half-day workshops to a complete 30-hour mediation training. Participants have an opportunity to learn skills that will help them handle conflicts in their organizations are able to practice these newly learned skills through role-play exercises in a safe learning environment. Skill-building can focus on a variety of areas, from conflict analysis and prevention, to creative problem solving, to negotiating with challenging personalities. Trainings are custom designed by identifying the specific needs of potential trainees through a needs assessment, focus groups, surveys and/or interviews. The goal of trainings is for each participant to walk away with real and useful skills for resolving conflict and problem-solving effectively and a higher sense of confidence in dealing with conflict and managing diverse views.

Referral Services
If you are looking for arbitration, types of mediation that OCDR does not provide, meeting facilitation or other services that the OCDR does not handle directly, we will connect you to appropriate resources including neutrals from our roster.