To explore the issue under dispute and how OCDR can help.
OCDR offers preliminary consultation at no charge. Contact 651-539-1404 or email@example.com to speak with an experienced staff person. OCDR staff will explore the nature of the issue, the potential for a collaborative approach and how OCDR services fit with those needs. Learn more about how to get started with OCDR by viewing our Project Criteria.
To evaluate the opportunities for collaborative solutions.
Issue assessment by a neutral third party like OCDR is an important first step in finding constructive approaches to resolving public issues. 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. Conflict assessments vary in complexity and may result in a written report or oral recommendations.
To leverage financial resources, information and participants' time.
Structuring a complex, multi-party collaborative process takes thoughtful, informed design. After an issue assessment, OCDR helps design an 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.
To bring parties to the table, and foster their commitment to collaborate.
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 convener about collaborative approaches.
To help parties select the most skilled facilitator for the project.
OCDR helps conveners and project participants select qualified, experienced facilitators well-suited to lead groups to consensus on even the most technical or contentious issues. OCDR uses staff facilitators and private practitioners from a 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 conveners and participants and ranges from identifying candidates to evaluating candidates and recommending finalists for the group to choose from. In all cases, project conveners and participants shape the recruitment methods and make the final facilitator selection.
Facilitators working on OCDR projects contract directly with OCDR and are accountable to us for all requirements under the contract. By serving as the financial interface between the project participants and the facilitator, OCDR provides an additional layer of protection against any real or perceived influence one participant or interest group might have over the collaborative process. In addition, contracting allows OCDR to enforce high quality standards with all facilitators working on OCDR projects.
To ensure open discussion and consideration of all viewpoints.
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.
Some disputes do not require extensive assessment and process design. In these cases the parties to the dispute can work with a mediator. The mediator will help all parties to identify the concerns and needs underlying the issues, generate creative options that address the needs and concerns of all parties, critically assess the options, and reach an agreement. Mediators will likely spend some time with the parties working together and some time apart. Where there is an ongoing working relationship, the mediator will help the parties to ensure that they are poised to work together successfully in the future. Disputes that can be resolved in mediation may be between departments of state or local government, between state and local government, or between government and the private or nonprofit sector.
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.
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.
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.