“The Wisdom Council’s benefits come largely from the magical quality of talking and thinking it establishes—both among its members and throughout the larger population. This quality of thinking, known as choice-creating, is different from normal political decision-making, where people agree and disagree on topics, trying to gain influence. It is similar to dialogue because it is a deep open-minded exploration of issues and similar to deliberation because groups reach conclusions. But with choice-creating the emphasis is not on people carefully weighing different options and negotiating an agreement. It is oriented toward reaching unanimity via breakthroughs of both head and heart.

Experience tells us that a breakthrough is the best way for any group to reach unanimity on a difficult issue. Then consensus happens naturally and quickly, and all feel motivated to help implement the result. This is not a rational phenomenon. In fact, the use of rational, deliberative modes of talking and thinking make breakthroughs unlikely. Even consensus-building, where people are expected to suppress their own individuality for the benefit of the group, stifles the possibility for consensus via breakthroughs.

Choice-creating is what happens when a community or organization faces and overcomes a survival challenge. People put aside their normal prejudices and come together like a family, rising to the occasion to do what is necessary. Each person’s contribution is valued and the process builds an exhilarating sense of “We.”

The Wisdom Council is structured to elicit choice-creating in all of us, and to build this sense of “We.” It is a “time out” from the usual back and forth political conversation, for a different kind of conversation where people address the big issues and seek consensus on what’s best for everyone. This new conversation is open-minded, creative and thoughtful, where people speak from the heart.

Through experience, we’ve discovered that the best way to assure choice-creating is through Dynamic Facilitation. Unlike traditional facilitators who orient to extrinsic factors like goals, agendas and guidelines, the dynamic facilitator orients to intrinsic factors like the energy of passion or fear. She or he uses charts of Solutions, Data, Concerns, and Problem-statements to capture comments as they come up. This approach honors and acknowledges each comment, letting each participant know they are heard, and encouraging new ideas. Different kinds of breakthrough happen in this process, like when the “real” problem is identified, or new solutions emerge, or when people realize they no longer feel about an issue as they once did..” [excerpted from Center for Wise Democracy; A Rebirth of We the People’]

Tom Atlee, the author of ‘The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All’ says, “Part of why I love Dynamic Facilitation (DF) so much is that it works with people AS THEY ARE. It doesn’t require that they buy into a set of rules about how they’re going to talk together. They can be [jerks] and the facilitator makes sure (a) that they don’t get shut down because of that, (b) that the people they target—and the group as a whole—continue to feel safe and (c) that whatever gift they bring gets heard and made available to the group mind. This alone makes DF incredibly useful in a pluralistic democracy. Add to that its power to metabolize conflict into useful insights and to engender co-creativity among diverse people, and it’s a real treasure.”

We have frequently printed the word democracy. Yes I can not too often repeat that it is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come, from pen or tongue. It is a great word whose history is yet to be enacted.”

—Walt Whitman