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What’s So Special about IF’s Public Discussions?*

IF’s public discussions are distinctive, if not wholly unique.  This is true in a general way; it’s also true of some of the component features of the IF discussion process that is at their core.

General distinguishing features. Three things most clearly distinguish IF’s public discussions at the general level:

  • discussion materials (themselves the product of prior discussions) that emphasize conceptual policy learning
  • a body of facilitation guidance that enhances the likelihood of replicating the success IF and its partners have had
  • a thoughtful process that, while fluid and adaptable,  lays out in careful detail just how discussion might usefully proceed

Specific distinguishing features of the IF processThe IF process is the result of long reflection and thousands of hours of actual experience.  Some of its special features include:

  • a focus on contrasting conceptual possibilities rather than a reduced number of facts, scenarios, or visions
  • an intentional search for different forms of insight rather resting content with “stakeholder” or “expert” views
  • a deliberate pace rather than an “artificial” timeline imposed by either a need to make a decision, resolve a problem, or conform to an official schedule

Other processes combine one or another of these features in some form.  Still, it’s probably safe to say that none does so in exactly the same way.   Which isn’t to say that other forms of discussion don’t have their own niche—only that theirs is different.

*  For more on this subject, see Essay U-4  “The Distinctiveness of Public Discussion,” in Public Discussion as the Exploration and Development of Conceptual Policy Possibilities.  Interactivity Foundation: Parkersburg, WV.  2006.  pp.  107-09, and available as a free download (pdf) on our Papers page.