It can be hard to create wisdom-generating conversations in large groups. So use smaller groups of diverse people—like a cross-section of the community or a full spectrum of stakeholders—to enable powerful shared learning and interactions that generate collective wisdom. Engage broader publics in and around that process and wisdom.
Related: 8 Citizen/Stakeholder Balance, 20 Diversity, 23 Expertise on Tap (not on top), 27 Full Spectrum Information, 29 Generative Interactions, 65 Visionary Attractors, 67 Whole System in the Conversation
Going Deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
A microcosm of a larger whole is a way to reflect the make-up of a certain group or population. This is important because in our current political system certain people are elected to “represent” the larger population, yet they do not reflect the diversity of that larger population.
How do you get participants for a microcosm group with that kind of diversity?
Demographics is one way. We can ensure that a microcosm has the same proportion of women, the same proportion of people of color, the same proportion of various kinds of diversity that exist in the larger population. Another approach is pure random selection, such as what we currently use for the initial call for jury duty. This can achieve even greater diversity, by including kinds of diversity we don’t often consider. We want a diversity of cognitive styles*, for instance – diverse ways of thinking: intuitive people, rational people, compassionate people, and so on – and people with diverse experience, etc. Random selection tends to do well at getting that kind of diversity, and it is another way to generate a microcosm.**
The wisdom-generating property of a microcosm comes from people really hearing each other and learning a lot about the subject they’re deliberating. We don’t automatically have the capacity to hear one another well, nor do we usually have sufficient information at hand on an issue. Thus it helps to have good process, good information, and good facilitation available to us.
There are many other things that go into having high quality conversations, and even more that go into having a wisdom-generating conversation where people are taking a broad perspective and stepping out of their usual frames of thinking. For example we may need to be helped to see things that are not easily seen, like the dynamics that take place in systems. With support, a microcosm can generate an inclusive systemic perspective, that can then be shared with a much larger population.