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 achieve effective and efficient results.
The Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution (OCDR) serves the State of Minnesota (legislature, governor and state agencies) and local governments (cities, counties, schools, townships, etc.).
Collaborative Problem Solving Services
Public issues continue to become more complex and contentious. Fortunately collaborative approaches have a proven track record of producing effective and efficient solutions to these challenges. OCDR helps you find solutions through a process that includes:
- Preliminary Consultation to explore the issue under dispute and how OCDR can help.
OCDR offers preliminary consultation at no charge. Contact us at 651-539-1404 or firstname.lastname@example.org 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 those needs. Learn more about how to get started with OCDR by viewing our project criteria.
- Issue assessment and process design to evaluate the opportunities for collaborative solutions and design a process which is most likely to result in solutions that all stakeholders can support.
Issue assessment by a neutral third party like OCDR is an important first step in finding constructive approaches to resolving public conflicts. During the assessment, a 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.
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.
- Preparation of participants to give participants the skills and knowledge they need to engage effectively
During the assessment and design phase, the facilitator determines what type of preparation would enable participants to make the most of the process. Preparation can include training in communication and conflict resolution skills, establishing an operating agreement, trust building activities, developing a shared information base, and more.
- Consensus building to ensure open discussion, consideration of all viewpoints, and the development of integrative solutions
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.
- Implementation to help ensure that consensus solutions are implemented
OCDR works with stakeholders to ensure that consensus solutions are implemented by:
- Including entities responsible for implementation of the consensus solutions in the collaborative problem solving process. These individuals may be city council members, state agency commissioner, legislators or others.
- Building stakeholders capacity for implementation by increasing trust and improving communication
- Ensuring that stakeholders define responsibilities and timelines in their agreements
- Assisting stakeholders in developing a system for monitoring implementation
A visual overview of this Collaborative Problem Solving Process can be found here