We Played MORE Than Two Games – And Changed the World!

Dear Agile 2016 Attendees –

In my Agile 2015 keynote, I challenged the Agile Community to change the world by playing two games. With the help of the Agile Alliance, the Scrum Alliance, Agilists around the world and a whole bunch of other people, Every Voice Engaged Foundation was able to accomplish a whole lot! Here is a brief summary of what we accomplished since August of 2015.

Completed: We produced a very large Zero-Based Budget Participatory Budgeting project for San José, CA in February of 2016. This project enabled the City to better allocate more than $63M in funding for Neighborhood Services (report here). This project is a terrific example of how San José, CA continues to experiment with various forms of Participatory Budgeting for dollar amounts that are quite significant. We are presently hoping to expand this to get City employees involved in the process because we think they would have excellent insight on the best way to allocate reallocate funds within a budget.

Completed: We produced www.d3decides.com, a project in which residents of District 3 were given $100,000 in funding. Residents submitted ideas, shaped them into proposals, and selected the funds. If you like Product Box, you’re going to love watching the videos of residents pitching their products: http://d3decides.com/phase-four/. This project also enabled us to extend Buy a Feature to enable single-player mode on smart phones, dramatically increasing our ability to engage residents.

Completed: We wanted to see if we could push the boundaries of Participatory Budgeting, so we gave $500 to the Sunnyvale Middle School (grades 6,7,8) under the condition that the kids were in complete control of the funds. They used our software platforms to create project ideas, shaped them into proposals and then selected them. The winning project surprised all of the adults: replacing an existing water fountain with a new model that could refill water bottles (better for the environment ;-).

In-Flight: We’re presently producing a project for San José, CA in which residents of a specific neighborhood of District 2 are determining how to spend $1M. Yup – that’s a pretty big chunk of change. We’ve completed the ideation stage. Details here.

In-Flight: We finished a whole slew of updates to Common Ground for Action, our deliberation platform we created in partnership with the Kettering Foundation. We’re in the midst of planning a big project for 18 members of the US Congress on Making Ends Meet (inequality), Immigration Reform, and Political Fix (getting American politics back on track).

Completed: We’ve trained more than 100 facilitators (this was pro-bono training!). And we’re going to KEEP on training people.

In-Design: We’re hoping to work with Kettering and other Communities to improve race relations with public safety (police) and the communities they serve. This is an especially sticky problem so we’re moving with respect and caution.

Finally, y’all know we’re crazy dreamers… so I’ll close this post by sharing The Democracy Machine, our vision of an expanded platform that integrates and extends our work in Participatory Budgeting and Deliberative Decision Making. Written by John Gastil with contributions from Luke Hohmann, Amy Lee from The Kettering Foundation, and others, we’re proud to have published this work in collaboration (there’s that word again! ;-)) with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Dream and Play On, my friends.


Learning to Deliberate: A Letter to Bloomberg, Schultz and Billionaires

It pains me when billionaires who are trying to make America better face the same challenges as ordinary citizens creating high-impact results that improve outcomes, especially when Conteneo and our community of Certified Collaboration Architects have developed solutions to these challenges through Deliberative Decision Making, Participatory Budgeting and other forms of scalable civic engagement.

Which is why I’m asking for your help in sending this post to Michael Bloomberg, Howard Schultz, George Soros, Rupert Murdoch, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and any other billionaire you know who seeks to increase civic engagement and high-impact, non-partisan collaborative problem solving. Let’s let them know that we’ve created the platforms they need to create the better world of our collective dreams.

Michael Bloomberg Wants a Better Government

On Mar 7, 2016, Michael Bloomberg published this essay outlining why he will not be running for President. In his article Mr. Bloomberg outlined several goals, including:

I’ve always been drawn to impossible challenges, and none today is greater or more important than ending the partisan war in Washington and making government work for the American people — not lobbyists and campaign donors.

“Making government work for the American people” is at the core of our philanthropic work at Every Voice Engaged Foundation, so I immediately emailed David Shipley, the editor listed at the bottom of the article. I shared  Conteneo’s partnership with The Kettering Foundation in creating the first platform for scalable deliberative decision making modeled on the process pioneered by Kettering. Given that Brendan Greeley had previously written about our efforts implementing Participatory Budgeting in San José, CA, I thought David would reply to my email. A week later I’ve not heard from David, which motivated this post, and my hopes that the global Conteneo community can help us reach David (my original email is contained at the end of this post).

Howard Schultz Wants Us to Deliberate

The momentum for better government keeps growing! The Mar 21, 2016 (print) issue of Forbes has this article about Howard Schultz Howard Schultz’s Stormy Crusades: The Starbucks Boss Opens UpThe article has this to say about Howard’s ambitions:

Now he wants Starbucks to be the place where people can get excited about voting again, where people can courteously discuss tough issues such as gun rights and race relations–and where “ we can elevate citizenship and humanity.”

 

The challenge facing Mr. Schultz is that simply asking people to “courteously discuss tough issues” is doomed to failure. The vast majority of people are not formally trained in the art and process of deliberation. It isn’t that they aren’t willing to engage. It is that they don’t know how. Putting this in terms Mr. Schultz can embrace, I might love a skinny Grande extra hot latte, but unless I have the right materials (coffee, milk), the right machine and the right process I’m not going to enjoy my steaming cup of goodness.

Engaging citizens in tough issues is exactly the same: We need the right materials (a discussion guide framing the issue being discussed), the right machine (Common Ground for Action, our software platform to support deliberative decision making) and the right process (the deliberation process captured within the software).

With these in place Mr. Schultz can turn Starbucks into a destination for deliberation!

We Need to Reform How We’re Approaching Immigration Reform

It is really sad that I’m likely to put the success of my company at risk by stating that we need to reform how we’re approaching immigration reform, but our corporate values of serving the world through advanced decision-making gives me strength.

We need to reform how we’re approaching immigration reform.

We need to adopt deliberative decision making as the foundation for exploring the complex challenges of immigration reform. We need to do this at a scale that is unprecedented. Since you can’t engage in deliberation on Facebook, we need to do this on Conteneo’s platforms (sorry, Mark).

And notice that I didn’t say that we need to be non-partisan, inclusive and all of those other platitudes that pundits like to spout. That’s because deliberative decision making and a properly framed issue guide includes, by design, a range of possible actions motivated by things that are held valuable among all of us. Kinda like saying that a good cup of coffee starts with a good coffee bean, right Mr. Schultz?

What You Can Do?

Help me reach your favorite billionaire. Tweet a link to this article. Forward the email I wrote to David Shipley from your account. Let’s make a small amount of collaborative noise so that we can enjoy, as Mr. Bloomberg suggests, the government we deserve.

Original email to David Shipley, 7-Mar-2016

David –
Like many Americans, I share Michael Bloomberg’s concerns about the terrific challenges facing our country (outlined here). At the heart of these challenges is the inability to deliberate on the wicked problems we’re facing.

Unlike most other Americans, I’ve done something about it. Working with The Kettering Foundation my company has created Common Ground for Action, the first platform for Deliberative Decision Making. This work builds upon the ground-breaking work I’ve done in Participatory Budgeting, a story covered by Brendan Greeley a few years ago (here).

The purpose of this email is to share this amazing platform with you in the hopes that we can use it to engage America in the kinds of discussions we must have in order to found common ground for action.

Start by watching this video produced by our development partner, The Kettering Foundation: https://vimeo.com/m/99290801. Really. Just 5 minutes. It provides you with an amazing overview of the platform.

Here is the rest of the story :-).

The Kettering Foundation frames wicked social problems for public debate and problem solving. They’ve got an in-person process for deliberation that they deliver through www.nifi.org. To frame an issue they create an issue guide which identifies three or 4 unique options or strategies for solving the problem (not just “yes” or “no” – but truly different perspectives). The scope of Kettering’s focus is quite impressive: They’ve built more than hundreds of issue guides on immigration reform, healthcare reform, education reform, resolving the national debt to name just a few of the categories that exist.

I’ve attached a few issue guides for your review [note: these are available at www.nifi.org]. I believe the format of these issue guides could provide a good model for some of the problems Mr. Bloomberg wants us to tackle.

But of course reading an issue guide isn’t building common ground. For this, you need a deliberative forum, a carefully controlled process in which a group of people consider an issue by reviewing different options (or strategies) as to how it could be solved.

Each strategy, in turn, is framed in terms of a set of actions that could be taken that are congruent or supportive of the strategy. Each action, in turn, has a set of drawbacks that must be considered if enacted. By thoughtfully – through deliberation – considering options, actions and drawbacks – participants develop an understanding of where common ground exists within a group for concerted action.

We’ve put the process into a scalable web based collaboration platform that embodies and leverages this process in the context of our proven techniques for collaboration at scale. As participants progress through the platform we give them visualizations of where common ground exists within the group. As opinions change through deliberation we update these visualizations in real-time.

When finished, the group has a clear understanding of where common ground exists for taking action on a complex issue – an excellent approach to managing wicked problems.

As you can imagine, identifying where common ground exists within a group of people, and at scale, helps create far better decisions and faster, more thorough execution.

I hope you found this email useful enough to share with Mr. Bloomberg in an effort to help us scale deliberation and identify the common ground for action so sorely needed in our country.


Building the Budget from Zero: Online Participatory Budgeting in San José,CA

Mayor Sam Liccardo and the San José City Council, in partnership with the Every Voice Engaged Foundation and Conteneo Inc., invite San José residents to participate online in a citywide participatory budgeting event during the week of February 22, 2016.OnlineForumsSanJose

The hour-long online “zero-based” budgeting sessions will provide residents with an opportunity to get involved in their government and community and impact the city budget.

How to participate 

Residents may participate in collaborative forums with their neighbors from a laptop or desktop computer, by logging into a forum at time that works for them. To find available times (from 8AM to 8PM, February 22-26, 2016)  and participate, go to http://everyvoiceengaged.org/sanjose-zerob/.

Starting with a budget of $63,600,000, residents will be able to collaboratively reallocate funding for 30 city programs, including such line items as graffiti abatement, parks and urban renewal and more. Residents may also preview the 30 city programs and their current funding level here: 2016-2017 Budget Engagement Exercise (PDF Download).

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