YOU Can Immediately Reform and
Recivilize the American Political Process
wish to. And even if you don't, you have here completely free of
political concern you have from this mailing a simple, powerful
way to run better meetings - whether business meetings, classes,
Sunday school, scouts, faculty, staff or whatever!
you will, a political rally in progress, the candidate doing little
but lambaste the other candidate in the manner now all too familiar.
All of a sudden, here, there, across the audience, people are rising
and doing something so unexpected, so unusual, everyone including
the candidate stops to stare. Maybe 50 people from the audience,
some wearing the buttons and hats which support that very candidate,
elaborately and in apparent good humor pantomiming driving a stake
into the ground.
the candidate him/herself likely asking what was THAT, the various
stakedrivers replying something to the effect that we support your
candidacy, but we'd much rather hear more about what you stand for
and less about what's wrong with the other guy's position! There
are more and more of us wanting to hear what's right with YOUR case,
and equipped to remind you of that with this gesture.
As you look
this over, I think you will agree that if this catches on anywhere,
it is then bound to catch on everywhere. Thus America's entire political
process will reform and recivilize, and start giving us better out-comes,
without anyone passing laws or regulations, without government intervention,
nothing but a popularized set of gestures by means of which the
intelligent members of any political audience will be able to elicit
better performances from candidates and parties.
the candidate will even ask to see a copy of "the code,"
asserting his or her being far more ready and willing to follow
that and to make positive cases than his/her opponent. The code:
extensions, for use in political situations, of Dynamic Format,
which extensions follow next page. Dynamic Format itself,
as you may recall or, from reading ahead, find, that--
Format was loosely abstracted from the best procedures used
by various creativity-involved professionals and programs around
the world, designed to obtain the best results from group pro-cess,
as distinct from the all too-common lowest common denominator outcomes.
*Dynamic Format is a set of agreements and signals which
enable a group to hold tight productive focus in a spirit of light
humor, not of aversive correction, control and the usual eventual
adversarial proceedings characteristic of spirited group discussions
*Dynamic Format encourages a maximum of expressive and perceptual
input from every participant, through pairs, threes and "buzz-grouped"
discussion guided by agreements and easily recognized signals. Some
signals may come from a moderator but more often from participants
themselves. The present, political-context, signals must necessarily
come from participants who normally wouldn't allow in their own
living rooms the behavior we see today from our political parties
and candidates, and exercised in the initial ignorance of candidates
of more constructive forms of group process.
*Dynamic Format signals are highly visible or otherwise easily
register on the senses, so that your voice does not have to compete
with other voices to provide essential guidance once everyone is
talking at the same time. The most productive group processes, maximizing
everyone's perception, expression and inputs, will have everyone
talking at the same time, but will not be seen in political process
until political candidates discover practical political advantage
to in-depth involvement and questioning of their audiences and constituencies
as distinct from hiring mindless pollings.
group discussions, everyone with an idea or perception to share,
invests most of his attention in mentally rehearsing what he is
going to say if he gets the chance, thereby diminishing the
attention he can give to whomever is currently speaking. Further,
waiting turns to speak in conventional group discussion drastically
reduces the opportunity for one to develop his perceptions by describing
them in some detail. Hence, most group discussions produce only
at the level of the lowest common denominator. The more interested
the participants or the more vital the issue, the more acute this
problem. In contrast a mutually Socratic, well-managed "buzz"
under Dynamic Format provisions normally produces ingenious or even
high level genius product from the group. From business meeting
to board ("bored?) meetings to classroom to faculty, staff,
task force and inquiry group meetings to church-related or civic
club meetings to political events, the indicated benefits to society
are prodigious were Dynamic Format to replace "Robert's Rules"
and other more adversarial-type procedures now in traditional or
acute are the problems accompanying group discussions of any community,
public or political issue where, now, to oppose a side on some issue
has come to mean to try to smear and destroy the other side by any
means possible. Public disgust at negative political campaigns has
grown to the point where, if an alternative were clearly visible,
many would grasp it including many of the candidates themselves.
GBD.com without it costing you a dime. Learn
democracies are based upon the Utilitarian premises of Jeremy Bentham,
which related everything to the issue of how to optimize the interests
and well-being of everyone caught up in the system. To so optimize
interests and well-being and the process through which those interests
are to be served, we propose the general adoption of some set of
procedures like those of Dynamic Format. We detail the general provisions
of Dynamic Format several pages following below. To correct the
immediate political situation, and to begin the long evolution of
our political process from its present abysmal character towards
higher forms of group process, we propose adding to those general
features these specific political "code features:"
hominem: if anyone detects an ad hominem in progress
- defined as an effort to make the other side look bad by negatively
portraying the advocate of the other side rather than comparing
cases - he briefly raises two clenched fists, waved overhead
in wide circles.
if anyone spots a "downer" in progress - defined as portraying
the other side's case negatively without presenting a positive
case of your own - as an effort to win not by making your side look
better than theirs but by making their case look worse than yours
- signal: One clenched fist driven downward into open palm hand
of other hand, with just enough theatric style to bring laughter.
More generally, any "downer" where the speaker is focused
not on presenting his own case but on demeaning the opposition,
either of the above ways, would be signaled by the aforementioned
exaggerated pantomime of driving a stake into the ground.
- Note: For
best results, and to ensure a good light humor to the whole procedure
so it can spread: these procedures must be expressed by supporters
and apparent supporters of the candidate who is speaking. These
should not be a counter-demonstration by the opposition.
You might even forewarn candidate and staff that such reminders
are coming "from within the family," even to providing
copies of this Code so that the intent is clear from the onset.
3. Missed Win/Win - signer perceives an opportunity
for positive resolution of the issue which both sides can leap aboard
enthusiastically and in happy conscience - not a mere splitting-of-difference
but a trade-off or ingenious outcome which is significantly better
for both. Sign: two "V" signs waved broadly overhead.--
last can be abused, we also need:
- Someone's interjections are not apparently leading toward a positive
resolution but rather toward some private hobbyhorse. Sign: two
downward "V" signs waved broadly in front. Code expectation
and/or agreement: interjecting participant at whom this is aimed
must immediately demonstrate the positive resolution he's
leading toward AND turn at least several of those downward "V's"
upward, or yield the floor for at least 10 minutes. Immediately.
Understanding: he does not have to turn up all or even most of those
downward "V's," only some of them, which will demonstrate
that he has indeed some sort of meaningful case to make.
political discussion following such rules will be conducted in a
manner, and yield results, which are very different from what has
become the all-too-familiar outcome. We respectfully submit that
the interests of us all will be far better served if our various
corporate and political and public deliberations are con-ducted
thusly. We further submit that if you and friends (and/or fellow
club-members, or congregation, or staff) can make this approach
catch on at one political event, it is very likely to spread and
to correct the entire political process across this once-fair land
of ours. (Note special terms of copyright notice, page 4 below,
allowing you a way to copy this brief fairly freely.)
"rules" and accompanying signs, whether for this political
application or for "Dynamic Format" generally, are welcome
for consideration toward subsequent attributed publication. We will,
however, take care not to end up with so many rules that we lose
track. Each rule must help the natural dynamics of any group to
move toward, not the destruction of one side or to a win-lose confrontation,
but toward the most positive resolution attainable for the given
issue or context under deliberation.
DYNAMIC FORMAT FOR ANY GROUP
Have you ever
had the experience of having something important to say but no opportunity
to say it? How much did you hear of what someone else then was saying
while you sat there mentally rehearsing what you would say
if you got the chance? - And so for all those around you as well.
To engage and focus your group's very real genius, try these
general "house rules" of Dynamic Format. The object is
to have everyone "buzz-group," with 1, 2 or 3 partners,
so that each has opportunity to express in some depth what s/he
is seeing, feeling, thinking. To keep the meeting in focus and on
buzz-grouped partners pull very close together so they can hear
each other and be heard without effort even when everyone is talking.
2.To keep the
topic in focus, use these next "Waterglass" signals very
easily perceived even when everyone is talking at once: (Beforehand,
establish these "house rules" as core agreements among
your participants. Gently use waterglass, ashtray, saucer or chime
with agreeable but penetrating tone:)
bings = Instant Pause in Talking. The moment you hear three
"bings," pause in talking not only in mid-sentence but
in mid-word so that you and others can hear the next topical question
or step of instruction. Make it a game: "not to be
the last one caught talking after the third 'bing.' All must be
done in light humor.
bing = half minute's notice, before the 3-binger. One 'bing'
keep on doing what you are doing but be ready a half minute later
to pause on signal.
- For groups
larger than 100 members, this signal attributed to the Boy Scouts
= Instant Talk-Pause + Hand-Up. The instant you notice either
the leader's hand go up or other people's hands going up, pause
in your talking and get your own hand up! (On-off flicks of the
room lighting can serve the same purpose.)
3.Relevancy Challenge, to keep better topical focus, quickly
get back to topic: make a triangle of your thumbs and forefingers,
sight at the speaker through that triangle. Agreement: on the instant,
whom-ever's speaking must (a) demonstrate how his remarks relate
to the topic; (b) or return to the topic; or (3) yield the floor.
the Run-Pasts!!! Anything you notice that seems worthy of address
but which the group is stampeding past: make a written note or record
of it. Thereby reinforce YOUR OWN perceiving of overlooked aspects,
not only that one overlooked point! Sometimes there is
a chance before the end to pick some of these points back up and
consider them, but the main purpose of this rule is to reinforce
your own perceptiveness and integrity of view. Any time you
notice someone else seething with an overrun point, point
to his/her notepad or waggle pen or pencil at him or her.
"rules" but for particular situations, not generally for
all the time:
Rule, used when you want more creative production, fresh ideas
and perceptions, open-ended exploration. However off-the-wall an
idea or input may be, the first response to it has to be
some form of meaningful, content related support. Reinforce
the act of generating and contributing ideas and fresh perceptions.
Win past the usual put-downs and self-censorships which stifle creativity.
After that first meaningful support, then it's o.k.
to carve that weird notion into corned beef hash, so long as the
support came first. Any time you observe an idea getting trashed
first instead of supported first, whether your own idea or someone
else's, clasp your hands together over your head for a second
or so, looking wistfully up at them, then go on. Note: the best
ideas usually are those which were greeted first with a burst of
laughter - especially turn supportive attention to these. Don't
use this support-first rule where you don't want expansive creativity.
a limit of 2-3 sentences or 1 minute per input, depending on size
of group or buzz-group and nature of process. Once rule is in effect:
any time you notice someone going beyond the agreed limit, lean
forward with hands clasped in front of you!
Rules of Order (and, for that matter, most club meeting and
classroom procedures as well), were designed to shut down communications
within a group so that business can be transacted. The too-typical
result leads to the tired joke about the hippo being an animal designed
by committee. Dynamic Format, instead, fosters focused communications
in a way which causes the business transacted to reflect the high-est
considerations and actual genius of the group.
1996 by Win Wenger, Ph.D., 301-948-1122, wwenger101@AOL.com, or
Box 332, Gaithersburg, MD 20884-0332. You may, however, freely reproduce
this 4 page paper - in whole, including this copyright notice, but
not in part.
FREE: can an
entire symposium or conference be run under these dynamic format
terms? What happens when everyone - formal high-level presenters
AND general participants - mutually Socratize each other? Send for
free information about the Double-Festival series of Conferences
held each November in the Washington, D.C. area, and in particular
about Double-Festival Seven coming up this November 13-17 weekend.
Query Project Renaissance, at the address given in the copyright
notice just above.
©1998 by Project Renaissance (regarding this internet version
only, other copyrights may apply). While we encourage the free distribution
of this article (complete text only, including this notice and acknowledgement
of source), we do require that expressed permission be granted by
Project Renaissance for any major republication. For minor printing
and sharing, we only request that you notify us.
reach Win Wenger, please visit his website at Project
on the latest Double Festival is available here.
originally published on Anakin's
Brain (now Genius By Design)