On LinkedIn, I joined the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, and they posted this meeting announcement for the Association for Conflict Resolution Environment and Public Policy Section 2013 meeting in Washington, D.C.. The title is “Dialogue in an Era of Divisiveness” which sounds very germane to the goals of this blog. Here’s a link to the agenda.
If I were in DC, I would definitely attend. There are many Forest Service and other agency speakers and a variety of interesting topics. I bet that there are some lessons we could learn from these collaboration and conflict resolution experts. If any blog readers are attending, one or more posts on what you find out would be appreciated.
Note: “collaboration” seems to be used in this agenda without the negative undertones associated with it sometimes in the Forest Service context. It would be interesting to observe this at the meeting.
Now, I am not a particular fan of Linkedin. It seems like it’s always on the edge of virus-like behavior, and doing unwanted things. At one point I must have clicked the wrong key and it sent messages inviting everyone I knew and also that of my husband. I got so mad at them I quit and closed my accounts. However, because SAF has a group there full of interesting material for this blog, I decided to rejoin it.
I was surprised yesterday to find something timely and useful pop up from Linkedin. It could also be because the other groups I belong to are the National Council for Dialogue and Deliberation and the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, or perhaps a direct message from the Universe.
Of course, whether these two pieces are worth the loss of privacy is not exactly clear. I hope that you don’t need to be on Linked In to read these pieces.. they are by a fellow named Fred Kofman entitled “How to Respond to Criticism” parts 1 and 2. Here is the “linked in” link to part one..and below is an excerpt.
The only way to win a fight with a colleague is not to have it. Beating him will get you, at best, a defeated resentful opponent.
Here are four general strategies that reduce conflicts. They don’t guarantee you will avoid them, but minimize their probability.
Should they happen, they increase your odds of resolving them constructively. They create a positive predisposition towards collaborative relationships.
If you face an arrogant attack, they will help expose its irrationality, not only to you, but also to others who might frown upon your critic’s strong-arm tactics. If you face constructive criticism, they will help you and your critic turn the fight into a dance.
These strategies are not “nice” in the sense that they allow anybody to state whatever opinion they want. They are “clarifying” in the sense they eliminate the fog of war that prevents rational discussion. They are rules of engagement similar to the ones of the scientific method, which focus on reason and evidence. They take hostility out of the equation, allowing for a logical consideration of the different points of view.
* Speak with humility. Present your argument in safe language, as I described here. Own your opinions. Present them in first person as the conclusion of your reasoning process. This gives others the chance to present a different opinion without clashing with yours. For example, when you say, “In light of the evidence from the focus groups, I believe that the marketing campaign is ready to launch.” you make room for your counterpart to say, “I disagree. The focus groups may have liked the ads, but our retailers are not convinced.”
* Listen with respect. Pay attention to others’ arguments, as I described here, especially when you disagree with them. Reciprocity is the most powerful influence you can exert. If you genuinely try to understand their perspective, they are more likely to try to understand yours. For example, when you say, “It worries me that the retailers are not convinced, what do you suggest we do about it?” you neither discount his data nor yours. This allows both of you to examine all perspectives.
* Choose your battle. If the disagreement is a matter of personal preferences, there is no need to agree. It is futile to argue whether chocolate “tastes” better than strawberry. It may taste better to you, and it may taste worse to him. Unless a joint decision is necessary, it is best to agree to disagree. The desire to “be right” fuels fights that serve no practical purpose.
* Choose your battlefield. Culture can be defined as “the way we do things around here”. If you live in a culture where might makes right, your humility and respect will weaken you. Bullies will always win out in bully-land. Or at least until the group is eliminated by fitter competitors. Reason always beats force in the long term. If you don´t want to go the way of the dinosaurs, evolve to a more rational niche.
Here is a link to his second piece.
And we are pretty respectful here, generally, but once in a while some folks veer off track a bit..
R: “Do you think there is a place for dangerous language? I think the dangerous language comes across a lot stronger. It’s punchier and has a bigger impact. It’s like swearing, sometimes you want to have a bigger effect and therefore a swear word might be more appropriate.”
M: “When stakes are high, I find dangerous language dangerous. It comes, as you say, a lot stronger, like a punch with a big impact. I don´t know anybody who likes to get punched. If you want to hurt people, this is a great way to do it. If you want to collaborate with them, why would you want to intimidate them with swear words?”
R: “But sometimes (sometimes) it is perfectly normal to use more colorful language. Sometimes things ARE stupid, don’t you think?”
M: “No, I don´t think things ARE stupid. I think stupidity is in the eye of the (arrogant) beholder. I do believe that it is perfectly normal to use colorful language, and that is why it is perfectly normal for people to abuse each other, destroy relationships and waste energy in fruitless arguments. I also find it is perfectly normal for companies to collapse because arrogant bullies cannot work together.”
Here is a link to the author.
Peace is breaking out all over..
Here’s the link…
Dogwood Alliance and International Paper Find Common Ground
Work to Focus on Forest Conservation in Southeastern United States
MEMPHIS, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr. 10, 2013– International Paper, the world’s largest paper company and Dogwood Alliance, one of the Southern United States leading forest conservation organizations, announced an agreement today that will help advance science based forestry improvements in the world’s largest paper producing region. The former foes will map forests around International Paper’s southeastern operations to identify whether any endangered forests or high conservation value areas exist. This mapping will help ensure that IP is not sourcing from any endangered forests as per its long-standing company policy and will also identify mutually-agreed upon areas where conservation can be focused. In addition, IP and Dogwood Alliance will work together to discourage the conversion of natural hardwood forests to pine plantations.
This collaboration builds on initiatives recently announced by International Paper. The first is IP’s membership in the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Forest & Trade Network in North America. Additionally, IP announced a $7.5 million five-year project with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore and conserve forests in the Coastal Carolinas, Cumberland Plateau and Texas/Arkansas Piney Woods regions. Finally, IP announced an increase in its sourcing of Forest Stewardship Council certified fiber by more than 1.2 million tons during the past five years, and expects to triple that increase by the end of 2014. The company continues to support multiple certification standards as part of its public goal of increasing certified fiber.
“IP has a clear, built in need to maintain healthy forests; our business creates the economic basis for millions of acres of land to remain as forests over long periods of time,” said Teri Shanahan, International Paper’s vice president of Sustainability. “Engaging with our critics is an important part of our process of continuous improvement. We look forward to working with Dogwood, because it’s clear that, although we approach it from markedly different perspectives, they are as passionate about the forests as we are.”
“IP’s leadership on FSC certification and its recently-announced commitment to fund conservation in regions that have long been a priority for us opened the door for transitioning our formerly adversarial relationship to one of collaboration,” said Danna Smith, Executive Director of Dogwood Alliance. “We are pleased to work with IP on these initiatives, that, when combined with our collaborative effort, set a leadership standard within the Southern forest industry.”
The collaboration will kick off with a 2013 pilot project to map forests around IP’s mill in Riegelwood, N.C. (near Wilmington). After the pilot project, IP and Dogwood Alliance will evaluate the framework used and modify it as necessary with the intent of applying it across additional IP southeastern operations.
This affiliation represents an unprecedented relationship between Dogwood and IP. Dogwood Alliance has been critical of International Paper in the past, though it has increasingly worked with industry leaders to find innovative business solutions that protect Southern forests.
Until today, International Paper has not been able to reach agreement with Dogwood Alliance although the company’s focus on sustainable forestry practices has led to collaborations with a broad set of stakeholders in the conservation community.
Without making any value judgements here, I find this collection of meeting summaries to be fascinating. Chad Hanson is a full member of the Dinkey Collaborative Group, working to create a better future for the Sierra National Forest. It will be very interesting to see how this process will evolve, with Hanson’s input solidly in view. The level of transparency seems acceptable to me. At the same time, The Sierra is using the new Planning Rule to update their Forest Plan.
Mr. Hanson noted that there was no option for opposing the proposal, and also stated his concern for his opposition going undocumented. Mr. Hanson expressed two main concerns with the proposal. He stated that the proposal assumed high intensity fire results in fisher habitat loss, and commented that the proposal states an inaccurate assumption that trees experience almost complete mortality when a fire burns. Mr. Hanson expressed that the mortality rate was not supported by current data. Mr. Dorian Fougères assured Mr. Hanson that his position would be documented.
There are other meeting notes available by searching for “Dinkey Collaborative Hanson”.
So, for now, it’s hard for you all to go back through past posts. Fortunately, I can and I found one that I think has been overlooked again, again from John, who got me started on the ESA post here. I think John hit on a rich vein of gold for discussion, that may end up being deeper and more meaningful on this topic than anything we’ve had to date. Because I think it’s so important, and fundamental to helping Legal World and Physical World people to stop talking past each other, I’d like to bring up the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
You can read about where the Four Agreements various places including here. The author of the blog post, John Johnson, is a professor of psychology so perhaps it is the “best available science”, which, clearly, we should all use!. Suffice it to say that many people have found these helpful in working through relationships with others. Perhaps organizations can’t do these for various reasons, and that would be worth exploring. But I think that fundamentally “not doing what you say you are going to do” is the basis for serious trust problems, that clearly we have on both “sides” and in the middle.
1. Be impeccable with your word. Moving the goalposts of what you say you want to resolve an issue is one example, or not monitoring when you said you would, or not following BMP’s.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
Sharon’s 2a Don’t mean anything personally. Castigate the behavior not the person (or the sin and not the sinner if you prefer that language). I think it’s important not to get caught up in that and I will provide an example. I think using “organization x” “district ranger y” will help depersonalize the issues.
3. Don’t make assumptions. (see how real this is? Matthew thought I was doing that yesterday)
4. Always do your best. (not sure that this relates to our discussion, but still worthwhile)
Anyway, back to John who said here
When I took natural resource conflict resolution courses at the University of Montana (several years ago) the instructors talked about your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). If your BATNA outweighed what you’d be getting in the collaborative, it was time to think long and hard about going with the BATNA.
What do folks think about a situation in which a group starts in a collaborative process but then determines that their interests/needs won’t be met through a collaborative process? In other words, if you go into it looking to collaborate but determine your needs won’t be met are you then allowed to go to court?
So John caused me to think about a couple of things. One is that perhaps we could get a volunteer to teach a mini- course for us in conflict resolution. I learned from Keith Allred at the Kennedy School SES training. But the training I wanted to take from the USIECR was fairly expensive and I couldn’t justify it with waning budgets and looming retirement. So we should probably explore that further.. if we could all learn together. Maybe a project for a graduate student? Retiree?
The second is that we learned about BATNA’s and did exercises using labor relations. But using those same thoughts frames the question as “us versus them.” Before I retired, we had an excellent all day training on the “Partnership Agreement.” One of the things they talked about (I think in terms of administrative grievances or discrimination complaints) was “”negotiating in good faith.”
So here’s my example. This reminded me of environmental organization X. We had worked on Colorado Roadless for seven years. At each comment period they moved the bar. In fact, I had developed a table of all the different times they wrote (this is public) and told us what they wanted. Each time we gave it to them, and they moved the bar, which I showed in the table. They must think it is OK to do this, because they were getting more of what they wanted (or is that making assumptions?) But they were not being impeccable with their word as far as I can tell. Does the end justify the means? (I don’t know why it was so important to please them- they had the ear of R and D administrations, but that’s another issue).
So my answer to John’s question, is “just be upfront with your needs. Write them down. Share them. Then litigate if you don’t get your “needs” met. But don’t tell us that the real problem is that folks wrote one page instead of five pages on cumulative effects, when you really don’t want to cut down trees there.” It is perhaps too strong to say that that that behavior is dishonest, because the system works that way, but that’s how it feels to some of us in Physical World.
Key findings from the synthesis were:
Efforts to promote resilience of socioecological systems increasingly consider the interaction of social values and ecological processes in pursuit of long-term mutual benefits and social learning for local communities and larger social networks.
Research indicates that strategic placement of treatments to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations and to restore fire as an ecosystem process within fire sheds can lower the risk for undesirable social and ecological outcomes associated with uncharacteristically large, severe, and dangerous fires, which include impacts to wildlife species of concern, such as the fisher and California spotted owl.
Science generally supports active treatment in some riparian and core wildlife zones to restore fire regimes. However, adaptive management, including experimentation at large landscape scales, is needed to evaluate which areas are priorities for treatment and what levels of treatment produce beneficial or neutral impacts to wildlife species and other socioecological values over long periods.
Yep, this is what we are already doing on my Ranger District. It is always important to focus on what we are leaving, rather than what is being removed. We still have longstanding limitations of protecting old growth and a ban on clearcutting. The picture is an example of salvage logging just six months after completion.
It is especially so, in a profession like forestry, that some of us get a chance to reflect on what has happened, and what might happen. Some of us find other ways of being outdoors and enjoying nature. My winter “data collection” involves sampling, organizing and capturing millions of scenic “data points” in a pleasing manner. Sometimes one has an entire winter to look at a problem from a new point of view than they had before. Being more moderate, I keep and cultivate an open mind, welcoming new points of view to scrutinize. Anyone who said that collaboration, consensus and compromise would be easy and painless was lying to you. Like in photography, scientific studies can use composition, depth of field and field of view to adjust what the viewer sees, and doesn’t see. A telephoto lens and a polarizing filter can dramatically affect what you want the viewer to see.
My young nephew called and invited me to take the extra bed in his Yosemite Lodge room. I hustled to get down there and we enjoyed a nice dinner, after I made Isaac and his friend some potent “Snugglers”. The three of us skied at Badger Pass, with glorious conditions the next day. The last morning, I took them to this secret spot along the Merced River. I never fail to get great pictures at this little-known spot, and I greedily sucked up more than my share of nice shots.
Sure, Dr. King was concerned about the great issues of the day, war and peace and civil rights. But some of the things he said about peace also relate to environmental conflicts. Things to think about.
In honor of our holiday honoring Dr. King, I selected some quotes that may be worthy of our consideration with regard to our daily “environmental conflict” lives.
We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process. Ultimately, you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Thank you, Dr. King.
(note, this is a repost from 2011)
People disagree; scientists disagree, and yet people have to manage them, and data, and interpersonal, supervisor and inter-institutional bad chemistry, dislikes, vendettas and power struggles. It’s not easy to do that.
In my view, real “scientific integrity” involves QA/QC, and data and review that are open and transparent. Anyway, I just saw the Nature article on the Klamath fish fight in Roger Pielke Jrs.’ Twitter feed, though I had seen the PEER document earlier.
Here’s a link to the Nature blog post and below is an excerpt:
Seven US fisheries scientists have raised a formal complaint claiming that a supervisor threatened to eliminate their research division after the team produced controversial model predictions of survival and recovery of the threatened coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in the Klamath River Basin in Oregon.
“This falls into the basket of obstruction of science for policy or political ends,” says Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), based in Washington, DC. The watchdog group filed the complaint of scientific misconduct on 7 January to the Department of Interior on behalf of the scientists who work at the US Bureau of Reclamation office in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
For years, federal research on Klamath Basin fish and wildlife has been caught in an intense debate about whether to tear down a series of hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Many environmentalists have blamed the dams for salmon die-offs and ecological decline, but some researchers have questioned the magnitude of expected benefits from dam removal.
The letter alleges that Klamath Basin Area Office manager Jason Phillips violated the agency’s scientific integrity policy adopted in 2011 as part of President Barack Obama’s nation-wide initiative to protect science from political interference. According to the letter, the scientists believe Phillips intended to shut down the research group — known as the Fisheries Resources Branch — after perceiving the team’s work on salmon and other fish contradicted the plans and findings of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The documents are linked in the Nature article. My point is that the scientists disagree. That’s OK, in fact that’s what makes science go! We just don’t have good scientific conflict identification and resolution mechanisms, IMHO.
Once upon a time, so long ago that I doubt that many people who are still working remember it, I went to a all Region 6 meeting on biodiversity. I remember that Jerry Franklin gave a talk and said something about genetics that the geneticists there disagreed with. So we went up to Jerry afterwards and said “but Jerry, geneticists don’t agree with that” and he said something along the lines of , “well I spoke with geneticist X. Why don’t you all get your stuff together?” (this may sound a bit abrupt but he didn’t actually say it abruptly, more with a tone of exasperation as in “how is anyone else supposed to know?”) Which is really, when you think about it, a darn good question.
At the time I remember thinking, “well, of course, there is actually no mechanism for “getting your stuff together.”
What do we have?
1) Meetings where each scientist does a presentation with 5 minutes for questions. Not much can happen in terms of dialogue on deep subjects in 5 minutes.
2) Journals… well, you can’t really have back and forth.
3) Blogs.. you can but many folks don’t feel that that’s their job to discuss with other scientists who disagree (and everyone is busy, so you understand). These can also degenerate.
4) “Science” panels. Usually they only pick one of each discipline, so you don’t get to hear within-discipline disagreements.
5) Regulator vs. regulated agency science disputes. Goal of managers is to put them to bed and move on… not to understand what is really true scientifically. No patience or public transparency. This is probably also true for private firms with in-house scientists that are regulated by agencies, but I don’t have direct experience with those.)
Anyway, I think a well structured, disciplined, and public discussion of points of view of NOAA, FWS, BOR and anyone else involved could move our mutual knowledge forward. I think “scientific integrity” is a total red herring (so to speak) in this case.
One more thing…if I were Congress I would only let one agency be funded to study one topic. We could save enormous amounts of money if several agencies were not allowed to pursue the same research topics without requirements, management and accountability for coordination (at least, and preferably some kind of utility in minds other than that of those to be funded). I personally have been in climate change research meetings where it appeared that BOR, USGS, and FWS were studying exactly the same thing; and obviously not required to, nor actually doing any, coordinating. Add NOAA and USDA to the mix, and you basically have a research pigpile at the public trough. At some of those research stakeholder meetings, I was embarrassed to be a fed. As in the Klamath case, to have a dispute, three agencies must have been studying the same thing.
Check out this post on Bob Berwyn’s blog.
1. If you had read Doug Bevington’s book (recommended reading), you wouldn’t see the polarization between parties as “astounding.” According to that book, it was the conscious choice of national and other green groups to ally themselves with one party.
2. Believing that people are in one or another group versus a combination of thoughts and values on different topics is rather dehumanizing. That makes it easy to think of them as “other” and to study them rather than listen to them as human beings. This often happens to rural folks. Who controls the agenda of “science”? Generally a set of folks. Who gets treated as objects to be studies rather than listened to? Generally another set of folks.
3. Like many scientific studies, this one has many implicit values. Because I was a federal employee and had to work for people of both political parties, I don’t remember any R’s being “for” deforestation or toxic waste. Just sayin’. I think the world is a little more complex than being portrayed.
4. Finally, framing things as moral issues can be tricky. In my experience, it tends to be the last resort of someone who wants to tell you what to do or think, when you don’t agree and don’t find that person’s arguments to be convincing. There are general moral principles that most all folks agree on but often environmental questions are what Rushworth Kidder would call “right vs. right” in his book How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living (recommended reading). Also, framing things as moral issues tends to needlessly get people riled. That can lead to bad things like the Inquisition or .. well you can name your own .. current or historic.
You all across the country probably didn’t see this but in Boulder there was the following behavior you can read about in a story here Boulder County condemns ‘mob harassment, cursing and intimidation’ at fracking hearing:Commissioners announce security plan for future meetings:
Upon returning, Domenico, chairwoman of the board, asked the crowd to “behave in a manner that is respectful” so the board would have a chance to hear everyone who wanted to speak.
“In my mind, the fundamental problem with the hearing we had last night was the behavior of a certain subset of the folks who were there that were really determined to intimidate anyone who had a different perspective,” Toor said Wednesday. “In order to have a democratic process, you have to have an environment where everyone is able to safely express their opinions.”
Other “troubling” behavior cited by the board in its statement included jeering of Wendy Wiedenbeck, a Denver-based community relations adviser for Encana Oil and Gas USA, during her presentation at the meeting and the “mob harassment, cursing and intimidation” some protesters engaged in as they followed Wiedenbeck to her car later.
“Suppressing alternative comments and shutting out voices through intimidation and fear is not part of the democratic process we hold dear,” the commissioners’ statement read. “Last night’s effort by a small segment of attendees to threaten and intimidate a speaker walking to her car was nothing short of shameful. Public hearings should create a space for everyone to feel comfortable to participate.”
Wiedenbeck, and Encana employee since 2004, said in an email that she has attended hundreds of public hearings on behalf of the company and has never encountered as much harassment as she did Tuesday. Even after trying to leave the area, she said, protesters followed her, blocked the path of her car and pounded on her windows.
Once you have determined that the “other” is not like you, and is “immoral” to boot, then it becomes OK to engage in behavior that is disrespectful or hurtful.
5. It creeps me out when people subvert a noble goal, “departisanization” which I fully support, by not listening to both sides and finding a center of shared values, but by attempting to convert the people who disagree in a vaguely underhanded (er… immoral?) way. Ick!