Checklist for Successful Decision Making
Good decision making processes are made of several phases and steps which have to be considered when discussing the required framework conditions: Steps which should be taken into account when managing decision-making processes include:
- Clarifying the starting point: At an early stage those responsible for the process should examine the project or the intention, its prior history, the objectives and contents, the timetable, the costs and the possible impacts.
- Assessing the situation: Those responsible for the process should analyse the development trends and the driving forces behind the scenes, and assess the positions and interests of the individual participants as well as any conflicts and alliances.
- Considering options for the decision making procedure: This is all about considering the following: What happens if everything continues as it was? Which new options are coming up? How do we recognise and seize new opportunities?
- Preparing the decision making process: Once the possibilities for action have been clarified, it is a matter of fine-tuning the process: specifying the subject of the negotiation (what exactly are we discussing; what are we not discussing?), the objectives, the procedure (what happens when?), the structures (who is in charge of what?) and the outline conditions (process management, time, money, how binding are the results?).
- Selecting the appropriate methods and tools: The right method in each case depends on several parameters: the object of negotiation, the scope of negotiation, the conflict intensity, the number of participants, the time and the money available. To get an overview of the toolbox for systemic Alpine development, click here to access the tutorial "Change Management".
- Negotiating and making decisions: Different phases of the negotiation, from getting to know those involved, exchanging information, agreeing the rules of the game, defining the areas of conflict, stating positions and the interests behind, defining priorities, negotiating solutions, clarifying responsibilities to the conclusion, in which the results, control function and evaluation are determined.
- Implementation: Actually carrying out the project can be difficult or even fail. This is often due to unclear expectations or agreements not being sufficiently precise during the negotiation procedure.
- Monitoring and evaluation: A small group made up of different agents should monitor the way in which the agreements are implemented. This creates trust and helps to show up any sources of error.
- Accompanying information: PR Work plays an important role in new forms of decision making. It motivates those concerned and creates a basis of trust both inwardly and outwardly. Special forms of PR work such as open days, joint excursions, special introduction courses for children and migrants, or even artistic events can be very valuable contributions.
Flood Prevention Samedan (Switzerland)
The flood protection project near Samedan had three main goals: security, quality of life and nature. The ambitious participation project lead to broad public acceptance in regard to goals and measures of the project which are in line with the new sustainability oriented philosophy of the Swiss hydraulic engineering sector.
The participants were: Federal government (Federal Office for Water and Geology), local government, local authority offices of Grisons (particularly the road department section hydraulic engineering), neighbouring local authorities; representative of the local agricultural sector; environmental advisory commission consisting of representatives of environmental organisations, local associations (fisheries, bird protection), involved local cantonal offices (environment, regional planning, nature and landscape, forestry) and local authority representatives.
The cooperation between the federal government (Federal Office for Water and Geology), local government and the local authority offices of the canton of Grison (particularly the road department section hydraulic engineering) and neighbouring local authorities was contributing significantly to the success of this important project. Even from the start of the project the essential environmental questions were discussed in the environmental advisory commission, consisting of representatives of environmental organisations, local associations (fisheries, bird protection), involved local cantonal offices (environment, regional planning, nature and landscape, forestry) and local authority representatives, thus enabling this commission to submit its solution proposals during the early planning phases. Important success factors were also a continuous information of the local population on project alternatives, a regular consultation-hour offered by the municipal authorities and the involvement of a representative of the local population in the project's advisory board.
The results of this procedure: broadly accepted project goals and measures; smooth implementation process; structural measures to provide e.g.: flood security, mobility (new bridges), attractive recreational space; nature protection measures (REY et al. 2007
PFEFFERKORN, GOLOBIC, ZAUGG-STERN & BUCHECKER (2006)
As the main base for this tutorial, this "Future in the Alps" report analyses what new forms of decision-making are the most promising with regard to sustainable development.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION (2002)
This document aims to reinforce the culture of dialogue and consultation in the EU.
A very useful report is dedicated to public administrators who are planning to start inclusive decision making processes.
ARBTER et al. (2004)
This guide explains what citizens' participation is all about and how it works in detail.
REY, GRÜNENFLEDER, PITSCH & BISCHOFF (2007)
This report gives a fine example how the goals and measures of the flood protection project in Samedan reached broad public acceptance among the stakeholders by including them in the planning process.