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Initial Consultation

The Center helps people work together to identify and solve problems, make collaborative decisions, and reach lasting agreements.

If you have questions about a situation or think you have a project for the Ruckelshaus Center, please call the Center’s main line at (206) 428-3021. Questions we typically ask include:

  • Is this a situation that affects people in Washington or the Pacific Northwest?
  • What are the issues involved?
  • Who are the parties that need to be involved? Are they willing to participate?
  • Have parties tried to resolve these issues? If so, could you describe those efforts?
  • What would you hope to accomplish with a collaborative process? What would be the best outcome or solution?

We’ll help you determine whether a collaborative approach is suitable.

Situation Assessment

After the initial consultation, if the Center and key parties involved decide to work together, the next step is often a situation assessment involving interviews with people knowledgeable about or affected by the issue. Interviews help to better understand:

  • Whether circumstances are right to collaborate
  • How an effective collaborative process might be structured
  • What additional information might be needed
  • Key issues, challenges, and opportunities
  • Estimated time frame
  • Funding options

The assessment will help decide whether to proceed with a collaborative approach. Either way, the assessment will surface valuable information that helps you proceed. Examples of previous situation assessments conducted by the Center include: Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Long-Term Recovery Situation Assessment (pdf), Capitol Lake Assessment (pdf), and Public Records Act Assessment (pdf).

Collaborative Process Design

If conditions are favorable for collaboration, the Center will work with parties to design a constructive process. A well-designed process reflects the core values of collaborative decision-making:

  • Full, Good-Faith Participation
  • Mutual Understanding
  • Inclusive Solutions
  • Shared Responsibility

Establishing a Common Information Base

If participants in a collaborative process identify a need for information on a specific issue or topic, the Center can access experts within the nation’s leading research universities. The Ruckelshaus Center connects real-world questions with university researchers, then translates technical reports into accessible language.

Facilitating and Managing Collaborative Processes

Good facilitation enables teams, groups and meetings to be more productive. The Center’s neutral facilitators have strong skills and a deep understanding of group dynamics, meeting facilitation, and consensus building that are essential to increasing the effectiveness of groups.

Center facilitators are “content-neutral” – we do not take sides or make decisions for the group. We provide fair, open, and inclusive processes to help groups build sustainable agreements. We track decisions and help groups write effective final reports or plans.

Building Collaborative Capacity

We envision a future in which governmental leaders, policy makers, stakeholders, and residents routinely employ the tools of collaborative decision making to develop successful public policy. We are dedicated to building capacity for collaboration by helping individuals and organizations better understand, initiate, participate in, and lead collaborative public policy efforts.

Our capacity-building efforts include:

  • Creating Awareness: The Center builds awareness of the value and possibilities of collaboration by hosting forums on important public policy issues.
  • Building and Disseminating Knowledge: The Center serves as a conduit between the universities and real-world challenges by documenting and fostering best practices and lessons learned. Center staff present at conferences, workshops, forums, and academic events. Our work helps ensure that policy making in the state and region is informed by the latest thinking and scholarly achievement.
  • Developing Collaboration Skills: The Center provides training that allows participants from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to better lead and engage in collaborative processes. Skilled trainers work with agencies and organizations to tailor curricula to their needs.
  • Providing Applied Learning Opportunities: We provide hands-on experience for faculty, staff, and students interested in the field of collaborative public policy. Our internship program provides students with paid opportunities to work with professionals and mentors on projects that develop collaborative skills needed to be successful in the field.

Updated on November 26, 2019