Resolving Land Use Disputes Decisions about community land use
About the Consensus Building Institute
The Consensus Building Institute (CBI) has been providing a variety of dispute resolution and consensus building services to a range of clients involved in land use and related controversies since 1993. Building on the Mutual Gains Approach to negotiation developed at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, CBI offers negotiation training, advice on dispute systems design, mediation services and evaluative research to public agencies, corporate clients, and non-governmental agencies on five continents.
CBI works with diverse groups to build consensus, resolve conflict, and produce mutually beneficial agreements. We help organizations improve negotiation and collaboration results, using tailored assessment, training, and coaching. We have worked with hundreds of organizations—including government agencies, corporations, community and advocacy groups, utilities, unions, and schools—in the U.S. and more than 20 countries. Our Board of Directors and staff include some of America’s best-known practitioners and researchers in the consensus building field. We are affiliated with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the MIT Environmental Policy Group.
1. Stakeholder Assessment
Leaders who find themselves embroiled in conflicts and controversies that require multi-party negotiations use CBI’s expertise to structure more effective problem solving. Before they invest time, money, and personal credibility, these leaders need to know: Can consensus building work in this situation? To find out, CBI uses a confidential interview and analysis process called a stakeholder assessment to “map” each conflict situation. If the assessment reveals that the legal, fiscal, statutory, political, or time constraints are insurmountable, CBI will recommend that consensus building not go forward. If CBI’s assessment is that consensus building can work, we offer a customized process for moving forward. We advise on how to bring the right parties to the table, and we produce draft goals, ground rules, time lines, and work plans for all stakeholders to review.
2. Consensus Building
CBI offers consensus building services before conflicts crystallize and conflict resolution services once they have. Consensus building helps diverse stakeholders generate agreements that are better for all parties than their “no-agreement” alternatives. It can be used at an early stage to reduce the potential for conflict, or at a later stage to overcome conflict. No party entering a consensus building process is ever asked to give up its right to pursue its own self-interest. Consensus building requires skilled facilitation and mediation and involves much more than meeting management. When stakeholders disagree on “facts,” we guide them through a joint fact-finding process. When stakeholders are at loggerheads over values, we work with them to reframe the conflict to focus on shared goals. When agreements are reached, we help stakeholders anticipate implementation challenges.
3. Training & Organizational Development
CBI’s tailored programs help organizations of all kinds— from large corporations and international agencies to community-based nonprofits—develop their negotiation, conflict management, and collaborative decision-making capabilities. Unlike many training firms, our teaching is grounded in extensive experience facilitating high-stakes negotiations, and in the latest research generated by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and other leading academic centers. CBI provides one-day and multi-day training workshops in: • Negotiation (introductory, intermediate, and advanced) • Managing Conflict Inside the Organization • Collaborative Problem-Solving • Dealing with an Angry Public • Conflict Assessment • Mediating Land Use Disputes • Resolving Science-Intensive Disputes • Managing for Sustainability. In conjunction with our training programs, CBI provides assessment and coaching services to individuals and teams to help maximize skill transfer and build leadership capacity.
For more information, please see our website at www.cbuilding.org, call our Cambridge, MA office at (617) 492-1414, or our Washington, D.C. office at (202) 572-6297.