Resources for Councillors

David Urry’s Tips for Community Engagement.

Picture of post it notes

Win-win: doing democracy differently.

The really difficult problems that parish councils and other organisations face, fall into a small number of categories. I gave the well-known example of two sisters who want the same orange. This is in the same category, of two parties wanting the same resource, as in the 1978 Camp David negotiations, when both Egypt and Israel laid claim to the Sinai Peninsular. The win-win solution, based on looking into people’s real needs, was essentially the same in both cases.

The workshop looked at several of these patterns. A big point that emerged for me, in the discussion that formed the second half of the workshop, was the frequent misuse of voting. A single, binding, majority vote locks us into win-lose. Instead, temperature checks or straw polls show us the balance of opinion, and help us to find those win-win solutions.

Perry Walker is co-founder of Talk Shop, which stimulates constructive conversation, and runs the Open Up website, which helps people work out what they think about the issues of the day.