Facilitating expert teams

In some circumstances, progress in a matter or conflict is difficult because of fundamental differences about scientific facts or theories, or technical data. In some such cases, Collaborative Processes has helped stakeholders create an expert or technical team – one expert from each key stakeholder. That expert team can work in facilitated sessions to answer specific questions – the answers to which could be useful for all stakeholders in moving forward.  A common approach is as follows:

  1. Stakeholders agree to use of an expert or technical team and identify the questions to be answered
  2. A document identifies the selected stakeholders, the questions to be answered and time table for completion
  3. Expert team meets in facilitated sessions to work toward consensus on the issues
  4. With facilitator assistance, the expert team drafts its report to the stakeholders
  5. Expert team presents its report and responds to questions from stakeholders
  6. Negotiations among stakeholders resume

Collaborative Processes has facilitated these teams on issues such as water, environmental risks, monitoring, mining and economic matters.

Case example #1: Collaborative Processes facilitated a year long geotechnical process with experts nominated by several agencies and a Superfund PRP to assist in the design of a minesite remediation program.

Case example #2: An expert team was given an assignment to meet in facilitated sessions with Collaborative Processes to assess a geotechnical theory advanced by one government stakeholder on ground water preferential pathways.

Case example #3: In a dispute over accounting matters, a technical team was set up to take thousands of individual and detailed accounting transactions and create large categories of combined transactions which then could be assessed as a group by senior negotiators – the effect of which was to avoid having senior negotiators dealing with immense detail.

Case example #4: Government, mining company and community experts were assembled to assess remediation options for a mine site so that senior officials could thereafter consider which options for remediation could be agreed upon.

Case example #5: On several endangered species matters, scientists and biologists met to confer and find where they agreed and disagreed about the conditions for species survival, and to thereafter present to the plenary meeting of stakeholders the key points of agreement and disagreement.

Article on Using Technical Teams