Dialogue – Do’s & Don’ts


What are the keys to enhancing the effectiveness, outcomes and impact of our Dialogue and Deliberation practice, no matter what the methodology, scale and approach adopted?

This question was the focus of the Saturday morning plenary session at the first Canadian Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation in October 2005 in Ottawa Canada. The session was facilitated and designed by myself and Miriam Wyman, with input from Diane Abbey-Livingstone and Ray Gordezky, and Graphic Facilitation provided by Christine Valenza and Sara Waldston (whose image is shown here). The previous blog on the importance of purpose reminded me of this valuable work, and I want to ensure that the results are known and shared broadly. (What follows is extracted from the pdf report I co-authored and can be downloaded by following the link below.)

From the outset, we intended to offer the results of the Dialogue & Deliberation: Principle and Design Do’s and Don’ts plenary results as a ‘work in progress’ for continued refinement by the global D&D community, as part of C2D2’s contribution to the growing body of collective intelligence around D&D practice. After the conference, I compiled and consolidated the data, then met with Jan Elliott and Miriam Wyman by phone several times to further analyze and summarize the raw data into this Summary.

For the most part, we came out of this exercise feeling that indeed there are principles that are inviolate – things that must characterize any dialogue or deliberation process; these actually do underpin our work and guide us in design, implementation and follow-up. These include things like transparency about purpose, accountability, inclusivity, commitment to feedback – what Dr. Peter A. Singer has called “procedural values”. Design relates to aspects of the dialogue or deliberation itself, like matching approach to situation or numbers, ensuring comfortable and conducive physical arrangements, creating guidelines for engagement, etc. In general, design flows from principles, and careful design is essential to ensuring that principles are ‘lived out.’ That is, principles and design are very closely connected and not always easy to distinguish. So we found ourselves moving away from our initial idea of first identifying principles and then talking about design.

I invite you to download and use the Dialogue & Deliberation: Principle and Design Do’s and Don’ts Summary we compiled as a platform for further reflection and conversation.

Author: myriamlaberge

M.A. (Economics), Certified Professional Facilitator Founder & Managing Director