In the midst of new demands and major decisions about the use of natural and human resources, CAP has chosen to gain the wisdom and experience of its employees, customers and stakeholders. CAP has sought and responded to the voices of those who are most affected by these important decisions.
Project ADD Water, launched in January of 2008, actively engaged nearly 100 stakeholders to decide how to share and pay for a new water supply for central Arizona. CAP employed both the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) five-step decision-making model and the ToP group process methods to create an environment for CAP, its customers and stakeholders to make a sustainable decision about Arizona's water future. CAP's Board of Director is expected to make a final decision in March of 2010.
Over the two year period, the collaborative team leading Project ADD Water used a wide variety of methods and tools to engage stakeholders during nearly 250 hours of meeting time over the course of 50 public meetings:
- Cooperative study for gathering research on relevant case studies
- Consensus workshop to create arenas of evaluation criteria spectrum for paying and sharing
- Focused conversation for introduction of participants to one another, reviewing previous work and journeys
- Electronic polling to judge participant’s understanding of outcomes produced and to prioritize evaluation criteria
- Motivational speaker to inspire creativity in creating alternatives
- Multiple teams tackling same problem simultaneously, each coming up with their best solution
- Survey all stakeholders online through Survey Monkey
- Using analogies, metaphors and imagery to describe complex decision processes and continuous use of graphic facilitation in small and large groups
When asked about the impact of the process, Tom McCann, Assistant General Manager at CAP, explained, ”We all like to think we are smart people. That we can apply logic and reason to data and facts to determine the best solution to any problem. But no matter how good we think our solution may be, if it does not have stakeholder support it has little chance of succeeding. That's where the Technology of Participation facilitation techniques come into play.
When we set out to develop a new water supply program for central Arizona, we quickly learned that there were many different stakeholders with strong opinions on the topic. The ToP facilitation methods helped us understand and reconcile those competing interests and develop a solution that can be supported by all.”
Three CAP employees, Sheila Brennemann, Tanya Luther and Terri Sue Rossi, completed the yearlong ToP Mastery program and have also initiated and facilitated the following:
- a stakeholder engagement process to prepare a Plan of Operation for the CAGRD
- an internal work group to streamline workflow for financial services within the CAGRD
- an internal team made up of IT employees to transform IT department
- a participatory strategic plan for Resource Planning and Analysis Department
- a participatory strategic plan for Planning and Replenishment.
Fred Peterssen, manager for CAP's IT department, indicated that the participatory process of re-designing the IT Department resulted in a more cohesive organization and improved morale. He sees the creation of a strategic plan as an opportunity to re-engage his department in thinking together about their future.
Marilyn Oyler of Partners in Participation is assisting CAP and a support team with the design and facilitation of the ADD Water process. Courtney Geer, John Oyler, Jim Wiegel and other Partners in Participation associates have assisted in the facilitation of ADD Water stakeholder meetings. Jim Wiegel has also assisted in the development of the survey and lead CAP through a Wall of Wonder.