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Creative Insight Council (CIC)

The CIC is a way government leaders can achieve breakthrough progress on ill-defined, contentious, or impossible-seeming issues by involving citizens. It is a form of the Wisdom Council where the issue is known ahead of time. See the latest example of how the State of Vorarlberg used a CIC for addressing the issue of “influx of refugees.”
Example #1

The CIC involves a randomly selecting twelve or so people to address some difficult issue. The process is short, maybe just two days. In the first portion it may be that the CIC hears from different sides of the issue, stakeholders or experts. Then they are sequestered for a short time with someone skilled in
Dynamic Facilitation, where the group reframes the issue and determines a unanimous perspective. Then in a public ceremony, they present their conclusion and the story of how they achieved this conclusion back to the public.

The usual response from the community and leaders is basically, "Yes, I think so too." So the process both builds a shared perspective on the issue and more creative public conversation. It might be valuable to repeat the process for three or four times on the same topic so the shared perspective can evolve forward. Also between sessions it’s often best if government leaders and stakeholders meet to craft a coordinated response.

Example #2: The city of Bregenz Austria used a CIC to circumvent the usual partisan battle over developing its downtown. A random citizen group met with developers and city leaders and were then dynamically facilitated to determine an unanimous perspective. They reframed the issue to be "how to link the City to the Lake." Then they suggested a way to do it, by raising the base level of the proposed project from the ground to the second floor, which would allow citizens to walk over the highway and railroad tracks and then down to the lake. It was a win/win proposal now being implemented ... without the usual battles.

Then the second CIC is gathered. They review the story of progress from last time and again hear from stakeholders. They are dynamically facilitated in the spirit of choice-creating to evolve the ideas forward one more step. Again in the presentation, most people find themselves in resonance with the views expressed.

Example #3: In October 2011 the government of the state of Vorarlberg, Austria—including the governor, legislature and opposition party— convened a CIC on the issue: "Beyond Growth—How can we secure our quality of life?" This CIC of citizens presented their results to the elected officials in a ceremony held in the foyer of their building. It was everyone sitting around tables talking and smiling. (The event was live-cast on the web.) The CIC had sets of conclusions about the Future of Politics, the Future of Education and others and presented these conclusions to the assembled legislators and the media. The point was higher level of conversation that was sparked within the Parliament. Now, this process has been embedded into the Constitution of Vorarlberg.

How is the CIC different?

CIC works within the system to gain better results, while as an ongoing process the Wisdom Council promises to transform the system to where “We the People” take ultimate responsibility.

See the
chart comparing the tools of Deliberative Democracy with those of Wise Democracy. Also see the chart examining how the CIC measures up to the twelve principles of the Wisdom Council Process.

Interview on the CIC ... Citizen Involvement for Solving Big Issues (10/09)

Additional resources
  • The Center for Wise Democracy supports local, national, and global communities in using Wisdom Councils and Creative Insight Councils.
  • For more information on Dynamic Facilitation and for a network of professionals skilled in Dynamic Facilitation see