Project #Governance, Policy Toolbox §1:
Methodology of the ad-hoc Think-Tank deployment, Teodor Kalpakchiev, the-enpi.org
- Each participant will choose one of these three pairs and will discuss both of them during the fourth day. Our methodology will be based on the World Café, but will be adapted for the purpose of achieving more substantial inputs. After receiving guidance by our guest speakers, the participants will sit at the one of the six tables, which corresponds to the choice they have given. After that they choose a person within the group, who is going to be responsible for arranging all the ideas and inputs on the flipcharts, connect them and visualize them if needed.
- What follows is a brainstorming session on what is the current state of affairs, which means that with a two-three sentences long statement the participants in each of the focus groups need to define in a very concise way what is currently happening. This will help them in determining a specific problem and illustrating it with a problem statement, which ideally is only one sentence long.
- After having these foundations the participants move on to the next step with a new chart, which is the identification of all the reasons behind the emergence of this issue. What comes next is the visualization of a spiderweb with possible logical correlations to the five dimensions, which the other groups are discussing. This can happen for example by means of positioning the current dimension on the centre of the chart and the other five around it. Then, with the help of arrows with a definition of the correlation, the participants connect their dimension to the other five. This will be of great avail, when the participants will have to discern all the actors involved in this dimension, which can be positioned outside the spiderweb. For example actors can be national governments or specific ministries, the civil society or specific NGOs (such as the Anna Lindh Foundation), certain International and Regional Organizations (apart from the EU, its seven institutions and numerous agencies, the Internation Labour Organization, the UNHCR, OSCE, Council of Europe, Transparency International, The United Nations Environmental Programme, The European Investment Bank), movements (Alter-EU), companies (for example those interested solely in extracting resources), etc. If possible, below each of the actors the participants can define its role in overcoming the current stalemate.
NB! From here onwards the participants, especially if they have creativity break, free to go on a “mini-mission”, which would mean stand up and go around to see what is happening in the other focus groups, or if needed raise their hand and ask for the help of a moderator.
- On a new third chart, the participants brainstorm on possible future developments of the current state of affairs, if no specific involvement takes place, which ideally would be three. These can be for example graded in a positive, neutral and negative scenario and subsequently defined with one or two sentences or bullet points. After that the participants assess the scenarios by giving certain percentages (1-100%) which correspond to the probability of theirs coming true. Subsequently, the participants go on to define an “if” statement, which should follow the formula of “if x does not do y, then z will happen”.
- After the subsequent break for networking, the participants will already have a clearer idea of where the future outcome of the situation should stand. Thus, it will be easier for them to define a set of problems that are standing between the current state of affairs and their desired future development. These should be visualized on a new chart with bullet points in a clear and structured way, so that later it is easier for the participants to address them with certain solutions. After that, on separate charts for each of the problems the participants can begin brainstorming and creating a map of all the factors and all the actors involved, in away similar to step 3. Factors could be anything beginning from cultural misunderstanding, to earthly forces and natural disasters, stagflation, low trust in public institutions, media and political distortions of facts, etc., whilst the actors remain the same, or if needed – they are switched / reorganized / their list is expanded.
- The next step represents the most vital, significant and substantial part of the policy exercise, which is coming up with certain policy recommendations. These should be formulated in a realistic way, which should make them as feasible, workable and accomplishable as possible. They can range from creating a specific sectoral redistribution of assets or liquidity, to creating checks and balances, reaching out for specific groups or actors, increasing spending, opening certain centers to creating funds / institutions etc., which is a relatively ambitious solution.
- In order for the policy cycle to be completed or to repeat itself, the participants should bring forth certain benchmarks, which typically include a measurement indicator in terms of cost, time, quality that are intended to quantitatively and metrically evaluate all the important aspects of the proffered policy recommendations. They should serve as a reality check to whether the very same indeed can act as solutions. Subsequently, the participants create a timeline of proposed actions and position their policy recommendations on it. Typically, these are divided into short, medium and long term, but it is up to the participants to decide what time measurement they will use (months, years, periods, etc.).