Smarter Land Use Project
(908) 625-0638
karl@landuse.org

Solving Persistent Problems with Effective Collaboration

The Smarter Land Use Project, after more than twelve years of philanthropically funded research has discovered that 1) effective collaboration quickly reveals ideas that solve persistent problems; 2) problem-solving ideas come when there is a shift to a unifying consciousness; 3) the shift occurs when a person gets a feeling of community spirit by giving, making friends, sharing examples, etc; 4) the only person whose consciousness you can shift is you. The goal is to get problem-solving ideas by shifting yourself to a unifying consciousness when you are in the middle of a problem.

A community's strength is a function of its unity. Decisions are more sustaining and beneficial to all stakeholders when they are made via a unifying consciousness. Each proposed decision is an opportunity for effective collaboration. When the primary focus of discussions and activities is on improving relationships, defensiveness gives way to the sustainable, problem-solving ideas of a unifying consciousness. When you connect with a project stakeholder whom you don't know or don't trust, and suggest getting to know each other so that you can work better together, the other person will usually appreciate the idea and accept your invitation if they feel that an improved relationship will benefit them as well. When you get together, be sure to focus on making friends ... avoid defensiveness by not talking about the proposed project. The deeper you shift into a unifying consciousness before you bring up the proposed project, the better the ideas that you will get and the better the decisions that you will make.

The primary emphasis of Karl Kehde's research is to find a way to redirect the wasteful energy of confrontation to creative problem solving. To do the research, Karl has already participated in more than 500 meetings between local residents, developers, planning officials, and environmental groups on upwards of 50 proposed projects across the United States.

The major benfits of effective collaboration are as follows:

  • New problem solving ideas beneficial to all stakeholders are revealed.
  • Community-enhancing features are added to each proposed project.
  • Residents adjacent to the proposed project gain an improved sense of safety and community.
  • No outside facilitator is necessary.
  • As stakeholder relationships improve, the decision making process becomes less aggravating, more efficient, and with less regulation and litigation.

Download or listen now to two free podcasts: Why So Much Distrust (8 min) and How to Trust (11 min). These are excerpts from Karl Kehde's discussion with community leaders in Steamboat Springs on May 5, 2008. Email Karl with your comments or questions.

Is a proposed change in land use causing aggravation in your neighborhood or community? The Collaborative Land Use Planning Guidebook, which may be downloaded free without the CD or purchased here or from Amazon for $29, can help you set up a process for improving relationships among stakeholders and upgrading the proposed project. Effective collaboration as detailed in the guidebook can be particularly effective when there is confrontation between stakeholders.

karl