We are beginning to explore the potent and exciting method of "convergent facilitation". In a nutshell, the concept involves clarifying perhaps contradictory positions in a search for agreement, and then working through an "iterative" series of small-step negotiations, as we work to draw all parties to the process towards a common center -- towards agreement, the point of convergence in the center of the process. We gradually facilitate convergence through an iterative (repeated, cyclic) process of negotiation.
We are considering whether this method might emerge as significant in international politics -- perhaps in situations that seem intractable and are extremely complex and emotional -- like Israel and Gaza/Palestine.
We can take our time and get positions very clear
We can identify many stakeholders
We can line up points of clear opposition, and consider whether any particular point is a "deal breaker" -- and if so, what can be done about it
We can maintain a complex array of simultaneous factors in a stable framework
We can hold the process stable for an extended period of time
If desired, the procecss can be highly "transparent" -- fully visible in all detail to any appropriate audience
Interactive Charter for Co-creation Inquiry -- please respond!
We are beginning to explore the potent and exciting conflict resolution method of "convergent facilitation". Let's consider some basic issues regarding this method.
This is a deeply intuitive and natural approach to the resolution of complex conflicts. It makes sense. But perhaps in the context of the internet we can develop some new and innovative approaches.
Could it be possible to define systematic mathematical methods for conflict resolution that can be "optimized" in some way? Can we define the process of "convergence" with precision?
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It is possible to define positions in a negotiation with adequate precision in writing.
We can take our time and get positions very clear.
It is reasonable and appropriate to describe a person or organization in a negotiation or facilitation process as a "stakeholder".
We can clearly identify many stakeholders.
We can keep track of stakeholder positions as they evolve during the facilitation.
We can identify points of opposition or substantial difference between stakeholders.
We can propose ways to mediate or negotiate stakeholder positions as the facilitation proceeds.
If a point of opposition cannot be resolved or mediated, we can hold the facilitation stable while we continue to explore other pertinent issues.
We can devise a framework that is capable of holding many facets of a complex negotiation in a stable and clear and visible format.
We can choose whether to display all facets of a negotiation to a selected audience as appropriate.
It is appropriate to describe this process as "iterative".
We are attempting to facilitate the negotiation in a way that "converges".
We can support a facilitation process over the internet with additional tools, such as video conference, additional documentation, email, face-to-face meetings as feasible, special-purpose programming systems (e.g.Loomio).
This entire concept is feasible and should be explored and developed as a new and possibly very significant way to pursue important negotiations.
Can we define the "issues" in some conflict in terms of "dimensions", where opposing viewpoints are to some degree "opposites" in those dimensions -- one perspective scores high on a common dimension, another scores low on that dimension?
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If this is possible, it's going to take a smart analytic facilitator.
Somebody (or "some thing") has to propose resolutions or "next steps" for every stage of the convergent iterative process, right?
Maybe both the facilitator and/or any stakeholder can propose at these "next steps" in the process, so the facilitator -- who may not be expert in the subject matter -- doesn't have to be the sole source of solutions.
Could we say that an initial step is building a shared model of "the problem space" where all stakeholders agree that the model -- the defined dimensions -- is reasonable, even though they do not agree on resolution?
This might be a natural approach if we can figure out what we mean by "dimension".
Maybe we get a mathematical definition of problem resolution when all dimensions of conflict are mediated to converge towards common zero -- the "origin" of this Cartesian space?
The oppositional dimensions contain "tension". We might define our objective in terms of "relaxing" this tension.
There is a mathematical process called "relaxation" which might be capable of proposing an ideal "incremental next step" towards common zero in oppositional dimension of tension.
Maybe we use a dimension-based definition of "similarity" and "difference", where "similarity" is the common ground or convergence-point of all identified dimensions of conflict.
If all these definitions come together, we might call this entire problem-solving method "iterative relaxation convergence"
Please describe or list any suggestions you may have for more adequately describing convergent facilitation as you understand it.