About a week after I put out an open research request to help collect a list of participatory politicians, I remembered a post of mine from way back when that provides a great example of the kind of activity I’m looking for. This came up during the June 2005 ODDC face-to-face meeting on “Deepening Online Deliberation”, which was held in Minneapolis, MN.
Blogging your way to a decision!
Yesterday, Griff Wigley shared a compelling use case regarding blogging for politicians: To blog your way to a decision! Ray Cox, a state representative from Northfield, MN and one of Griff’s clients, has successfully applied this technique in the past.
How it works: over a certain period of time leading up to a vote, the politician would post blog entries whenever anything had had a significant influence on his point of view. A first post might briefly describe the issue, give the due date and his initial take on it. Every time the representative was approached by, say, a lobbyist or an interest group he would then blog about how that changed his opinion – or not.
In addition, the politician actively engaged in dialogue with his readers (via comments and email) and would regularly follow up on reader input, thus signaling sincere willingness to learn.
From Griff’s experience, people tend to gravitate towards a story-telling format like this. Especially for more complex issues, the trade-offs can be illustrated over time as they evolve. Instead of being confronted with a final outcome, the constituents can follow a developing story that relates to their representative on a very personal level.
One of the key benefits to this approach is that the decision making process becomes a lot more transparent and participatory to the constituents. In the end, even those who strongly disagreed with Mr. Cox’s final decision could at least understand and respect how he had reached his conclusions.
I can see how this could be applied quite similarly to other decision making or management processes, for example by a CEO inside a company that is undergoing substantial changes/challenges.
I have fond memories of that ODDC workshop. About time there was a follow-up, yes?
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