Consultation about a Consultation Process
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Blog: Consultation about a Consultation Process
Description: This blog has been established for the purpose of providing a forum for discussion. The Sphere-Consult project team has worked collaboratively to produce a document which describes a process for two way consultation with the Chapter Delegates.
Feedback is now sought on the document. An introductory note has been written by Fred Baker. It is recommended to read this note first, and then the draft document.
Thanks are due to the members of the Sphere Consult project team who gave their time and effort to create this draft.
Sphere-Consult project team: Fred Baker, Susan Estrada, Marcin Cieslak, Holly Raiche, Cheryl Langdon Orr, Ian Peter, Mike Todd, Frederic Donck, Rudi Vansnick, Veni Markowski, Edwin Liaivaa and Samad Bakurally.
The sphere-consultation draft documents are available in Spanish, French and English at this file gallery. Please read the "Consultation on Consultation" document first. Your comments and feedback is very important on this topic. We look forward to hearing from you.
Created by lord on Thu 29 of Jan., 2009 04:27 UTC
Last post Sun 30 of May, 2010 23:42 UTC
(14 Posts | 10609 Visits | Activity=2.00)
Feedback on "Best Practice Guidelines" document and Version 1.1 of Consultation Draft
The Sphere consult group opened this blog on January 29th 2009 to collect comments on a draft process prepared by the group for Consultation between ISOC Global and ISOC Chapters. Since that time, comments have been collected on the blog, discussion has taken place in the Sphere Consult group, the process has been used by Bill Graham (ISOC staff) and more recently Christine Runnegar (ISOC staff) and a revised draft (version 1.1) incorporating comments has been produced and is posted to the blog below.
The group has also produced a "Best Practice template" aimed at helping and guiding anyone wishing to initiate a consultation.
Feedback is now sought on both documents and the blog will remain open for one month until 5th August. The final documents will be sent to the Sphere SIT team for review and handing to the ISOC Executive Team.
On behalf of the Sphere Consult group, further comments are invited on two documents:
1. Version 1.1 of the 'Consultation draft'
2. “Best Practice” summary guidelines for conducting a Consultation in ISOC
The final documents will be available in Spanish and French as well as English. Thank you to everyone who has provided valuable feedback. Thanks also to the Sphere Consult team.
“Best Practice” summary guidelines for conducting a Consultation in ISOC
“Best Practice” summary guidelines for conducting a Consultation in ISOC
Drafted by the Sphere-Consult team
This template is offered to anyone wishing to initiate a consultation within ISOC. It is suggested as a “best practice” template.
Consulting who: seeking high level or skilled group, which stakeholder groups?
2. Process details
Tools used: (blog, mailing list, survey – send URL )
Stage of consultation:
Short summary of issue(s) to be addressed:
Summary in French (if applicable):
Summary in Spanish (if applicable):
Full details: (if applicable)
Deadline for feedback:
5. Additional information
Other relevant information:
A Proposal from the Sphere-Consult Group
Version 1.1 (incorporating feedback)
This is version 1.1 of this document. Please see appendix 2 for details of the feedback received and how it was incorporated into this document.
1.1 Our Goal – Development and Implementation of Policy Consultation Protocol
The Internet Society needs protocols and/or procedures in place for how to conduct a consultation with and among its various constituencies – chapters, organizational members, and individual members - on policy issues. There is no clear protocol for how a chapter may consult with ISOC Global and/or the other chapters about an impending event or development in its local region. Our charge was to devise a draft set of protocols for the conduct of policy consultations between and among ISOC Global and its constituencies.
In addition to considering the above relationships, the group did some broader thinking about other consultations – exploring ISOC's various constituencies and the need to collect opinions that would be desirable within the ISOC context. These include interactions between and among the following groups: the ISOC Board, staff, advisory council, regional offices, associate organizations like ISOC-ECC, and chapters.
2. Proposed Consultation Process
2.1 Who is consulting
For the purposes of this document, we initially limited the consultation process discussion to ISOC Global and ISOC Chapters. However, we do feel that this consultation process could easily engage multiple stakeholder groups simultaneously as discussed in the previous paragraph. Hence, this document addresses consultation throughout ISOC.
2.2 Business Process Requirements for Consultations
2.2.1 Trigger for a consultation
Different triggers for a consultation can be classified as:
a) issues arise locally only
b) issues arise locally but have more interest broadly
c) international issues
Within these categories, triggers can be external (from an inquiry, discussion paper etc) arising from issues by Government or other organisations.
Triggers can be rated by their importance to the organisation. Is it critical? Is it important that certain stakeholder groups respond? Are there external timelines imposed?
2.2.2 Planning and Timing of consultations is critical.
Because of global nature of ISOC, planning and timing of consultations needs to be carefully considered. Policy issues have different regional importance at different times. During a consultation, the participants need to engage at a speed which fits with their local needs or the global needs of ISOC Global.
• A standard consultation be communicated with appropriate parties at least one month before a final decision is needed.
2.2.3 Engagement expectations need to be set as part of a consultation.
In any engagement, the body initiating a consultation must inform its target audience very specifically about their expectations during the consultation. This includes but is not limited to the following expectations:
• Timing/due dates
• Who is being consulted as part of the process
• What is the purpose of the consultation – who is the ultimate audience
• How a final decision will be made
• What the consultees are expected to provide: advice, ideas, etc.
• The stage of the consultation: dialogue, discussion, decision (see Section 2.3)
2.2.4 Appropriate tools must be used to archive consultations for future use.
Consultations, and the discourse and discussion that surround them, have a tremendous value to ISOC. As such, ISOC must support a discussion forum structure that allows for archival features, participation by and identification of participants, and multiple access methods (online, email, web-based, universal-design-qualified, etc.)
2.2.5 Consultation with other participants must be identified and shared with all participants.
ISOC Global and its various constituencies understand that multiple sets of stakeholders may be interested in being included in key policy consultations. The organizational entity asking for the consultation needs to identify these other participants and share this information with all participants. Our group recognized that consultations would likely involve interactions between and among the many groups: the ISOC Board, staff, advisory council, regional offices, associate organizations like ISOC-ECC, chapters, the ISOC Advisory Counsel, and ISOC’s organizational members.
2.3 Consultation process
Through this process, participants will be able to map out the likely consequences of decisions, work out the importance of individual factors, and choose the best course of action to take. We are proposing a three level consultative model based on dialogue and discussion and resulting in a valued, shared decision.
2.3.1 Step One: Dialogue — understanding the different perspectives
The physicist David Bohm, who devoted his last years to the investigation of dialogue, described it this way. Dialogue is "not an exchange and it’s not a discussion. Discussion means batting it back and forth like a ping pong game. That has some value, but in dialogue we try to go deeper…to create a situation where we suspend our opinions and judgements in order to be able to listen to each other."
During the dialogue phase of a consultation, the participants need to engage with each other in an open way and learn how an issue is perceived from a variety of difference perspectives. The dialogue phase of a consultation is possibly the most important phase since it allows one to view many different sides of the same issue. This phase should be done in an open, encouraging and respectful manner to ensure that as many perspectives as possible are considered in later phases.
2.3.2 Step Two: Discussion — examining the competing values from the perspectives
During the discussion phase of the consultation, participants need to weigh the competing perspectives collected during the dialogue phase against the consultation goals and the ISOC Principles. It might be that this part of the consultation could be done with a smaller group to hasten progress. But, the value of the process itself and the discussion is important for archival purposes and for future references. As such, we encourage an open and respectful forum for this phase.2.3.3
Step 3: Decision - choices made in the best interest of the ISOC principles
Once a final decision is made, it should be documented in a formal document that is archived along with the dialogue and discussion that lead to the decision. The final document should outline how the decision supports the ISOC principles and its importance to the future of the Internet.
2.3.4 Structure of the Consultation Process
We recommend that consultations be conducted by forming ad-hoc and short-lived purpose-built groups of interested stakeholders that are aware of the Consultation Fundamentals outlined in Appendix A. It is envisioned that a standard consultation will involve proactive consideration of issues with adequate time for stakeholder engagement following the three steps outlined below. A reactive consultation process should only be in response to an immediate crisis and should still encompass many of the attributes discussed herein. Reactive processes may have shorter timeframes and a more targeted stakeholder group focus in order to meet tight deadlines.
2.3.5 Consultation Milestones and Activities
The consultation should be framed so that the participating community understands the nature of the consultation.
• For Information: The statement is to inform the participant of something and expects no response. rarely used in a consultation process
• For Dialogue: The statement requests dialogue from the addressee, usually within a stated time frame.
• For Discussion: The statement requests discussion from the addressee, usually within a stated timeframe.
• For Decision: The statement includes a decision and expects no further response.
A reasonable consultation process will consist of the following activities.
1. Create a statement of what is being asked
2. Create a statement of the proposed position (if appropriate)
3. Assure that the statement is consistent with ISOC's core principles and the current ISOC Global Strategic Operating Plan.
4. Identify the participants needed for a robust consultation process.
5. Set a timeline for a discussion process and review.
6. Publicize the consultation by including the following information in an appropriate forum:
• who is asking
• the intended recipient of the final policy
• the point of contact for questions and responses
• what is expected of the participants
- is this strictly informative?
- is this for comment?
- is a specific action required?
- Acknowledgment/interest in participation
- what constitutes a useful reply
• Important deadlines for dialogue, discussion, final policy formation and documentation
7. Is any part of the consultation private? If so, please indicate this.
If participants find the proposed deadline unreasonable, they should reply immediately with a date that they think they can achieve, and then act accordingly barring further communication from the requester.
2.4 Electronic Support for a Robust Consultation Process
Because of ISOC’s global nature and the widespread worldwide distribution of chapters, the need for translation support and the various levels of engagement of chapters, it is necessary to have a robust online toolset that will make consultation easy for all members of ISOC. Basically, a discussion forum needs to be created that:
• Makes it easy to ask for input,
• Makes it easy to track the input even if you weren't watching realtime, and
• Makes it easy to archive the results for future reference.
Appendix A: Consultation Fundamentals
1. The ISOC Principles are shared core values utilized in policy formation but could use a revamp.
The group agreed that all chapters, ISOC global and other members of ISOC should agree to and use the ISOC principles as the common ideas and shared values that we all respect and utilize as the underpinnings of all policies.
ISOC's activities are founded upon, and driven by, the following principles:
• Open, unencumbered, beneficial use of the Internet.
• Self-regulated content providers; no prior censorship of on-line communications.
• On-line free expression is not restricted by other indirect means such as excessively restrictive governmental or private controls over computer hardware or software, telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential components of the Internet.
• Open forum for the development of standards and Internet technology.
• No discrimination in use of the Internet on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.
• Personal information generated on the Internet is neither misused nor used by another without informed consent of the principal.
• Internet users may encrypt their communication and information without restriction.
• Encouragement of cooperation between networks: connectivity is its own reward; therefore network providers are rewarded by cooperating with each other.
However, the group also thought that these principles needed to be revisited as they are seen as North American-centric. The principles could be made a stronger, foundational set of values if they were amended to reflect a more global perspective.
2. Policy decisions, even when considered relatively minor, should be shared amongst the parties.
One of the interesting ideas that emerged during our dialogue was that policy decisions should be allotted adequate time for discussion, dialogue and/or distribution. Parties need to be given adequate time to digest information and determine the need to share amongst their colleagues.
3. Mutual respect for roles and responsibilities are fundamental to a positive collaboration process.
The group discussed a number of instances in the past where there was a conflict in policy between ISOC Global and the chapters. In the course of our dialogue, it became clear that a fundamental recognition of roles and responsibilities needed to be understood and respected both from the ISOC Global side and from the chapter side.
In order for consultations to take place that allow for the best exchange of ideas, a genuine trust relationship needs to be in place among the parties that are participating in the consultation. This “fabric of relationships” is fundamental to success. The participants in a consultation need to understand and respect the values, the passions and the time available for each individual.
The chapter representatives are usually volunteers with “day-jobs.” At the same time, many have very strong local and/or regional liaison relationships and may need to have a reasonable amount of time allotted to ensure that new policies are framed and understood in a local context.
The ISOC Global staff is under enormous pressure to deliver policy statements that support the ongoing education of policymakers worldwide to ensure that the Internet can support the next billion users. Its policy recommendations are based on the principles. Occasionally, these recommendations may have to be developed with swiftness to ensure that an immediate need for education and advice is met. Swift policy development should be the exception not the rule. Most policies can be developed in a thoughtful, well-timed, collaborative process based on mutual respect — where each participant is willing to look at things from another perspective and understands our shared common ideas and values that underlie the consultation.
4. Language is a major issue.
Many of the chapter participants are not native English speakers. As such, when an important policy consultation is needed, it is imperative that the time and translation requirements be understood and respected on both sides of the consultation. In an important consultation, where there may be significant local issues or socialization of ideas needed, the chapters must be given either translated materials or adequate time to translate the ideas into locally understood concepts.
5. The concept of subsidiarity should be employed by ISOC participants for consultations.
The subsidiarity principle is based upon the autonomy and dignity of the human individual, and holds that all other forms of society, from the family to the state and the international order, should be in the service of the human person. Within ISOC, subsidiarity assumes that Internet users are the focus of our work, and emphasizes the importance of chapters and organizational members acting as regional or vertical market mediating structures which empower individual action and link the individual to society as a whole. "Positive subsidiarity” is the ethical imperative for ISOC HQ to advise globally on methods to create the policy and technical conditions necessary in the Internet for the benefit of the Internet user, based on ISOC’s principles.
Appendix B: Summary comments from Blog & responses:
a) kshatriy says the document has "intricate language and academic thought" and should be "simple guidelines, simple language"
Response: Ask Communications team to edit the final documents to provide simple guidelines and simple language
b) In an actual consultation, in mexico people felt the need to summarise the issue at hand in a consultation, in one short paragraph in different languages - to help understanding of issues for non native english speakers
Response: Included in revised draft and summary document
c) There were 2 calls for timeframes to be clearer
Response: Suggested standard timeline of one month was highlighted.
d) Triggers for a consultation - Louis had some comments about that in his posting and using a question to help decide ie. whether it was critical or not to ISOC.
Response: incorporated the comments based on suggestions.
e) A couple of people mentioned the need for distinctions between private consultations which are sometimes part of the process - this could be referenced in a companion draft.
Response: This is included in the guidelines document and in the Proposal
f) Other than that there were suggestions for edits.
Response: incorporated where possible.
g) Rules of engagement for policy development process as raised by Ian Peter.
Response: out of scope of this document as it is not about policy development. Fred felt that the board should be made aware that there is a call for this and this will be included in the covering email to the Executive Team.
h) Suggestion by Holly Raiche to split elements of point 1 of 2.3.5 ‘Consultation milestones and activities “I’d split these elements. The first item should be the statement of what is being asked – what is the issue. The proposed position is quite different.”
Response: The text was amended to read:
1. Create a statement of what is being asked
2. Create a statement of the proposed position (if appropriate).
i) Triggers for a consultation – section 2.2.1
Holly Raiche suggested to add text to clarify the source of a trigger.
Response: The following text was added: “Within these categories, triggers can be external (from an inquiry, discussion paper etc) arising from issues by Government or other organisations.”
Post, Monolog or Dialog
Having been on originating end of creating online communities (anyone remember the IBM SIG on Compuserve?) and encouraging multiple person participation in the identification and resolution of many technical and social things, one of the items I would like to see added to this blog feature is a way to have associated / threaded dialog for the major items posted to the various blogs.
Without a serious intention of getting involved and expressing one's perspectives, recommendations and suggestions, it is not as obvious to a new user just what to do to get involved with one or more of the very important items posted to the blogs.
For instance, this is obviously a post to the "Consultation about a Consultations Process" Blog but no other context, perspective or views can be related to this post. Going back to the Blog itself, since Anne and Frank are the only one's who have posted so far, this must somehow be related to one of these but what does that mean?
What I would really like to see is a way for everyone to get involved, be heard, and easily identify any context associated with the particular "post" what ever that term means in this particular context...
common principles among uncommon contexts
A chapter member's concern was about ISOC HQ's use of Chapters for their own politics. But in reality, Chapters use ISOC HQ for their own politics and agenda too. This applies to the Chapter/National organization relationship as well. There will always be the element of power in the relationships.
The Consultation Process seem to be a recognition of this element. if so, that is more honest.
Nevertheless, underlying the proposed consultative processes are the core values and principles that ISOC has established: "We are proposing a three level consultative model based on dialogue and discussion and resulting in a valued, shared decision."
That "valued and shared decision" is always deemed to "support the ISOC principles and its importance to the future of the Internet."
Statements made are also expected to be consistent with "ISOC's core principles and the current ISOC Global Strategic Operating Plan." (Consultation Milestones).
Hence, the the ISOC's core principles as well as ISOC's public policy principles should be the subject of yet another "consultation process" - or perhaps a better - workshop where regional, country or even community-specific interpretations of the principles may be developed.
The protocol is fine, it is the adherence to common principles among uncommon contexts that need to be addressed.
Libertad para opinar / Freedom to believe
I found by doing a query, where I hope to take into account the individual contribution, which is usually true that many are involved or not involved in the actions of each chapter.
social realities are different in each continent, region, country and city.
I wish to know whether the members of this consultation will be individually considered, as many times a chapter will meet for administrative matters and what matters is that ISOC in this laudable attitude to think and feel each member or member of a chapter and not as some being temporarily in the presidency, believe it is a feud.
Me parece interesante el hecho de hacer una consulta, donde espero se tome en cuenta el aporte individual, pues es cierto que por lo general no muchos participan ni se involucran en las acciones de cada Capitulo.
las realidades sociales son diferentes en cada Continente, region, pais y ciudad.
Desearia saber si en esta consulta los miembros de manera individual seran tomados en cuenta, pues muchas veces el Capitulo se reune para temas administrativos y lo que importa es que ISOC, en esta loable actitud piense y sienta como cada miembro o integrante de un Capitulo y no como algunos que por estar temporalmente en la Presidencia, crean que es un feudo.
Subsidiarity and other comments
It would certainly help to consult with other parties. However, they should be clearly identified and their vested interest, if any, should be clearly stated, especially if it do not totally match the Society's values.
Appendix A #5
I am surprised of the definition given in the Appendix A of the word "subsidiarity". According to Webster: "a principle in social organization: functions which subordinate or local organizations perform effectively belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization " See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidiarity
In the ISOC context, that would mean that regional issues would be handled at the regional level, in accordance with the overarching values of the Society. For example, European-centric issues would best be handled by ISOC-ECC.
On the whole, however, I think this is a very good proposal.
Patrick Vande Walle
Comments from Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond
This is a great start.
One small typing error at "2.3.Step One: Dialogue" which should be "2.3.1 Step One: Dialogue" but I guess you've already noticed that.
Also, consider replacing:
"Its policy recommendations are based on the principles. "
by: "Its policy recommendations are based on these principles."
May I suggest going a little deeper by looking at the possibility of defining standard timings for consultations?
Day 0: announcement of consultation process
Day 7: consultation starts and a process for collecting feedback is made available
Day 15: consultation is advertised again (for those people who have missed the original announcement)
Day 30: last comments announcement
Day 35: consultation ends
Day 40: report from staff about consultation results
Is this realisable, or is this ill-suited to the consultation process? By ill-suited, I mean that perhaps some consultations might be required in less time than others which might last several months? In this case, it might be interesting to define timelines & processes for "express consultations" and "standard consultations". This is a consultation about a consultation process, but I wish I could see a more detailed suggested process about the consultation process itself. (did I put one consultation process too much?)
Another suggestion I might make would be to benchmark other organisations which conduct consultations, to find out what their method's strengths and weaknesses are.
Last but not least, I guess that the consultation process itself (ie. comments) would be published. This type of transparency is fine when the consultation itself is about apolitical, uncontroversial civil matters. However, when the object of consultation is of a more disputatious flavour, some participants might feel inhibited to voice their views. I therefore feel that there should be provision in the consultation process to cater for such individuals. Involvement is not only about giving a voice, but also a matter of trust. (BTW - for those readers who hesitate, there is a "privacy" box that one can tick when providing input to the present wiki-based consultation)
I might be repeating what others have said below, so I'll stop here, but to the whole group: well done!
comments/suggestions from S. S. Kshatriy
COMMENTS ON CONSULTATION
S. S. Kshatriy
Member, Sphere Project Analysis Team
I have gone through the “Introduction” document and “Draft” document prepared by Consult Team.
1. Consult Group has done a great and elaborate job in formulating guidelines. There are lots of academic thoughts and intricate language.
2. It would have been just sufficient to talk to ISOC and a few of the chapters and elicit their views and difficulties in ‘Consultation. How “Consultations” are done now? What are the difficulties? These two questions would have given sufficient material to formulate simple guidelines in simple language for presenting to ISOC.
3. I further suggest that email, telephones and web meetings alone should be used for consultation process.
4. However, it is good that the draft is circulated for comments and some useful comments will come forward. I suggest, that a small sub-group of three persons looks into comments and original material and ‘Finalizes’ draft guidelines in ‘clear’ and ‘authoritative’ terms. I will be glad to be of any help in the work.
5. Reference to Consultation Draft Document, my comments on Section 2.2.1 are:
No time frame need to be fixed to start with. As soon as a party comes to know of the need for consultation, it alerts the other party immediately and keeps on posting the developments as and when it takes place. During consultation process, time frame for actions can be decided mutually.
6. Reference to Consultation Draft Document, my comments on Section 2.2.4 are:
This section should come in the beginning of section 2.2 and be numbered 2.2.1. The Party initiating the consultation should decide/should know “who” is it going to consult and such other party becomes part of the consultation process. There is no need to keep all other unconcerned parties informed of the process. Other parties may be contacted as and when necessary. There is no need to give undue importance to “multiple stakeholders” and “other” participants, thereby confusing the issue.
7. Reference to Consultation Draft Document, my comments on Section 2.3.4 are:
The material in this section is to be rearranged in different sections based on its meaning/purpose. "Milestone” generally denotes a ‘targeted activity’, one after the other—as signposts by the roadside showing distance. In this section, only planned ‘activities’ forming part of Consultation process, need to be included.
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