Remember the dilemma faced by King Solomon when two women appeared before him both claiming to be mother of the same child? Solomon found himself confronted with two undesirable choices, and no matter what decision he ultimately made, he risked causing significant harm to those most directly involved. As it turns out, local elected officials appear to have much in common with King Solomon.
We often find ourselves faced with problems that on the surface seem to present us with only two competing solutions--both of which appear undesirable. Interest groups claim there's only one solution and lobby us to take their "side." The media press us to take positions early in a policy debate and then report the story based around who's "for" and "against." Many constituents believe someone has to win and someone has to lose.
The newest dynamic in this disappearing political middle ground has been unleashed by digital technology. The ability to instantly communicate in real time combined with seemingly unlimited access to information have only exacerbated the difficulty of making wise decisions grounded in the community's interests.
We can't put the digital genie back in the bottle, but we can adjust our decision making style to the new realities of politics and governance created by the newest electronic technologies.
Like King Solomon, we can draw more effectively upon alternative dispute resolution strategies to discover people's real interests and use those as a foundation for decisions. We can make calculated decisions to adjust a decision process, involve more stakeholders, gather more information or seek third party assistance. …