What is the Wisdom Council?

The Wisdom Council is a way the people of a large system—e.g. citizens of a community, members of an organization, citizens of a nation—can address and solve difficult issues together — achieving thoughtful, near-unanimous results. Using this process it’s possible for a community of people to come together in the spirit of “We,” solve difficult problems, and build the capacity for collective wisdom.

Basically, twelve or so people from the community are randomly selected. They face an issue they care about deeply, which is ill-formed and may seem impossible-to-solve like climate change, influx of refugees, or institutional racism. With the help of someone skilled in Dynamic Facilitation they achieve the spirit of choice-creating. At the end of just a short period ... like a day and a half ... the Wisdom Council reaches unity, which they report back to the whole population. At the presentation, they tell the story of how they achieved their conclusion: the breakthroughs and shifts along the way. Then the live audience talks among themselves. Usually, they resonate with the conclusions and continue the conversation in a similar spirit, seeking answers that work for everyone. As the Wisdom Councils continue over time with a new random groups every four months or so, there is a new public conversation added to what already exists. It’s where, besides the usual competitive political talk, the people also step back and work collaboratively in the spirit of choice-creating. Over time increasing numbers of people become involved and help evolve the Wisdom Council conclusions. Also in time people recognize that they are in unity on many aspects of the issue, speaking as “We the People.”
Different kinds of Wisdom Council include:
  • The Wisdom Council process is an established, ongoing process of Wisdom Councils so that a legitimate, powerful “We the People” forms over time. This process promises to transform the system to approximate a “true democracy” ... and a “wise democracy.”
  • The Creative Insight Council is a modified form of the Wisdom Council to achieve a limited goal, basically to improve the ability of the established “decision-makers” to function. Modifications might be, for example ... CIC members to be chosen using a stratified sampling rather than just being purely random; for them to be specially educated about the issue beforehand; or for them to present their conclusions to the ultimate “decision-makers” rather than to the citizenry;
  • Society’s Breakthrough is where the Wisdom Council process is applied to the nation and/or to the world. This promises a transformation of our System ... including governance, economics, and our “system of thinking.” Ultimately, if we are to solve many of our most pressing issues— like wars, poverty, and environmental destruction—we must recognize that these issues naturally arise from of our current System. Here is an accessible way to safely facilitate our System to transform away from it’s current basis in self-interest, judgment and competition to a basis in relationship, creativity and collaboration. This shift is essential for our society to become more equitable and sustainable.


Handout: "Wise Democracy Strategy"
Article: A Rebirth of 'We the People' by Jim Rough