Closed Minds, Bratwurst and Underwear

I’ve had autumn, falling leaves, farms, harvest time, cooler weather and, of course, tractors on my mind lately. Therefore, I thought we’d plow some new ground as well as some familiar territory in a different way this month. I hope you’ll find it useful.

Stay curious,


Changing Closed Minds

We have some difficult problems to resolve in this country and solving them is going to require us talking with each other, even with people with whom we don’t agree or like very much. Ultimately, it’s going to require closed minds to open a little. These aren’t unsolvable problems, they just require willpower. Consider the possibilities:

I wonder (I’m curious about) whether or not we’re losing our curiosity:

Facilitate Your Way Out of Analysis Paralysis

Collaboration is the only way to get big things done and make them stick, and that requires facilitation. Facilitation is surrounded by misinterpretations, poor definitions, and misperceptions. The truth is that just about anybody can learn the basics but not everybody can do it well, and it’s a craft that’s needed now more than ever. So let’s start with this:

Government bureaucracy is often known as the place where good ideas go to die. Endless studies and the sound of cans being kicked down the street are everywhere. Real accomplishment is one way to (re)build government trust:

Brainstorming should feel comfortable and spontaneous, but somebody has to organize and track it:

Seems like there’s always one alpha dog in every group that wants to hold the conversation hostage. Here are some thoughts about dealing with Fido:

Communication is like Grilling Brats …

… everybody thinks they do it well but few can. We all take presumably simple things for granted and we really shouldn’t. The following piece does a very nice job of explaining how to not take your communication lightly. And watch for TPC’s new training workshop entitled, Grillin’ and Chillin, the Fine Art of Bratwurst, coming soon to Sheboygan and a location near you! (Hey, I’m from Wisconsin, we know brats.)

The grounding philosophy is quite simple really, it requires a modicum of empathy. In other words, think like your reader:

We’re now hearing people say that they have all of these new avenues and platforms and media, therefore they must be communicating with people better. I have a kitchen full of cool appliances and spices and pots, but I still can’t cook. (But I can grill!) Here’s how to get better (at communicating):

I recently asked a client whether or not a community really understood what my client was trying to do, and was told, “They must, we’ve told ‘em enough!” Turns out the community still didn’t get it. Consider the illusion of communication:

New clients frequently explain to me (in some way or another) that they can’t get into trouble for what they don’t say, so if we can just avoid talking about whatever it is that they don’t want to talk about, they’re good. They’re not. People fill in the blanks:

Some Days Even Your Lucky Rocket Ship Underpants Don’t Help

The tragedies of the past couple of weeks have been harder to deal with than usual for many of us and it’s not easy to be optimistic. I find comfort in Calvin & Hobbes, written by Bill Watterson – possibly the greatest comic strip ever. I hope you find some wisdom here:

Dispute Resolution, Community Engagement, and Meeting Facilitation Training

The Participation Company (TPC) facilitates, consults, coaches and trains public and private sector people about their community conflicts and public engagement programs. Our job is helping you do yours.

Open registration for International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes still remaining in 2017 include:

IAP2 Foundations (5-day) course:

  • Walnut Creek, CA – December 11 – 15, 2017

IAP2 Strategies for Dealing with Opposition and Outrage in Public Participation (2-day) course (The fresh new hands-on workshop — previously known as Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation – has an expanded manual and is now available in pumpkin spice.):

  • Denver, CO – November 16 – 17, 2017
  • Salt Lake City, UT – December 11 – 12, 2017

Click on to join us and watch for more IAP2-branded and other original courses in 2017. We continually work with a variety of clients to customize in-house training for their specific challenges.

You’ll also find more original ponderings from Debra Duerr, Wendy Lowe, Doug Sarno, me, and an occasional guest at

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).


Remember, we waste considerable time scanning the worldwide interweb so you don’t have to.

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