Matt Ridley, the rational optimist, has a wish about, ‘economists versus ecologists and the limits to growth’:
‘If I could have one wish for the Earth’s environment, it would be to bring together the two tribes—to convene a grand powwow of ecologists and economists. I would pose them this simple question and not let them leave the room until they had answered it: How can innovation improve the environment?’ *
First of all, lets’ lower expectations and instead consider where we could achieve understanding if not agreement. After all, the powwow would be full of experts anxious to prove that their theory was correct or, at least, superior to the others.
Using a Solution Focus approach, the powwow participants might also:
Prior to the powwow, the experts might agree on desired outcomes for the event, i.e., imagine what success looks like
During the session, having actively listened to each other, take small steps forward
After the powwow, take what they have in common and publish it (vs. what they found wrong in each other’s ‘arguments’)
Why understanding if not agreement?
- The issues are complex and the views are based on a multiplicity of expert analysis of the problems.
- Letting go of long cherished ideas, albeit fear-based, is hard.
- Reframing the ideas by asking better questions to open up listening and finding common ground helps make progress.