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"Can our field present a united front to the new Administration? Let's start by seeing if we can develop a set of principles for public engagement we can all endorse..."

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    • CommentAuthorKenb
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2009 edited

    The following are laws followed in Structured Dialogic Design

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    • Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety (Ashby, 1958) asserts that a design must possess an amount of variety that is at least equal to the variety in the problem situation. One demand of this law in a social decision-making situation is that all the relevant interests, points of view, and stakeholders be represented.
    • Miller’s Law of Requisite Parsimony (Miller, 1956; Warfield, 1988) asserts that human beings can deal simultaneously with only five to nine observations at one time. As a consequence, any social system design situation, however complex, the design should not require the designers to deal with more than nine items simultaneously and usually should involve fewer.
    • Boulding’s Law of Requisite Saliency (Boulding, 1966) refers to the range of importance that people assign to observations relative to other observations. It requires that good designs (1) highlight the different ways that group members judge the saliency of design options, and (2) provide specific ways to reach consensual accommodation about relative importance.
    • Peirce’s Law of Requisite Meaning (Turrisi, 1997) expresses in explicit terms the objective of inquiry and design: to discover the essence of problem situations and to plan desirable futures for communities of stakeholders.
    • Tsivacou’s Law of Requisite Autonomy in Decision-Making asserts that power in the design situation derives to the person who makes the distinctions adopted by the group. It says, “Independent of their social status and role, those who control the information distnctions in a given situation acquire power and restrict the autonomy of others (Tsivacou, 1997). A corollary of this law demands that all participants must have and equal opportunity to explain the ideas and experience.
    • Dye’s Law of Requisite Evolution of Observations (Dye, 1999) was recently discovered and substantiated. It states that people fall guilty of the erroneous priorities effect when they focus their activity on the action needs in a situation that they agree to be most important. Voting on the basis of importance does not get to the roots of a problem where leverage can be properly applied. To get to those roots a group has to determine the relative influence. CogniScope and SDP determine the influence and find the leverage points using the Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM) method invented by John Warfield. Basically, this method involves questions of paired factors on the basis of questions like:

    If we were able to do Factor A, would that significantly help us do Factor B? And vice-versa, if we do B, will that help us do A?

    Each factor is related to each other factor in this way with computer assistance shortening the number of actual comparisons and keeping track of the long and deep logic involved in the multiple decisions.

    • Tsivacou's Law of Requisite Action (Laouris 2008) states that it is unethical to dialogue and design on important human issues and not proceed to action.

    My brain hurts. :0

    Good to know, though, that there are actual theoretical "laws" to back up many of the principles people have identified as being critical to this work.  Thanks for putting this together, Ken.

    Not sure about the Law of Requisite Action, though. Is it unethical for Jews and Arabs to have living room dialogues just to get to know "the other" and see them as human rather than the enemy?  Guess it depends what you consider "action" to be.  Many times, dialogue participants agree that the needed "action" is simply more people engaging in dialogue about the issue, because they don't feel powerful enough to make much of an impact themselves.

    • CommentAuthorTom Atlee
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2009

    This is a great list pertaining to how to accomplish more collectively intelligent and wise understandings, solutions, decisions, policies, etc.  That is the (implied) task of deliberation.  If a group has come up with a wise collective solution/judgment, the next question is "How will it be implemented."  If that group has been convened by some authority that then ignores their solution/judgment, such ignorance not only wastes the collective intelligence generated, but undermines future efforts to generate it.  Thus it is unethical.

    Dialogue doesn't have a goal of coming up with an implementable solution or decision, so these theorems only vaguely apply to dialogue.  Dialogue may "solve" something by shifting the relationships, understandings, or possibilities experienced by the participants (and/or by those who observe them), but it doesn't need to do anything beyond that to succeed or have impact.  There's nothing to "implement."

    In my view, dialogue and deliberation can be combined productively -- or function separately.  I see the theorems here as part of an (often neglected) look at what is needed to generate collective intelligence and wisdom in a deliberation.

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Special Note:

Welcome to the NCDD website. What you see here, in the way of web design and layout is a work in progress. The forum feature works as you would expect, but we have just begun our web re-design and are testing the "bare bones" with this conversation. Many of the links and buttons outside the forum may not work as expected and we thank you in advance for your patience with us.

This re-design marks a new chapter in the online life of NCDD. It began in 1998 with a small online project called the Dialogue to Action Initiative and became the NCDD website after our first national conference in 2002. Beginning in 2009, we are turning our focus to embracing existing tools, instead of creating our own, as a way to further the networking opportunities of our members and offer examples, through use, of the many great tools that are available to us and our community.

Visit the Main Page of our website to learn more about NCDD. Please let us know what you think of the design! Send your feedback to .