Unit 1: About SDDP

The Structured Democratic Dialogue Process – SDDP (originally developed by Dr. Alexander Christakis and Prof. John Warfield) is a deeply reasoned, scientific methodology for large-scale, collaborative design, which is effective in:

  • Providing solutions to multiple conflicts and problems that are more and more complex in a reasonably limited amount of time;
  • assembling the collective wisdom of various stakeholders who experience a challenge;
  • assisting heterogeneous groups with conflicting opinions and interests in collectively developing a common framework of thinking based on consensus building and thus achieving results.

(Council of Europe, n.d)

Watch this video to get some background information regarding structured democratic dialogue process.

The added value of SDDP

1.Strategic character of the dialogue;

2.Promotion of a place-based and bottom-up approach;

3.Long-term outcomes rather than immediate and temporary outputs;

4.Networking and capacity building;

5.Legitimacy of the actors and their work;

6.Stakeholders engagement and the sense of collective ownership;

7.Creation of a core team (KMT) to sustain the continuity of the process;

8.Development of mutual trust between participants;

9.Participation on equal basis and respecting the autonomy of all participants;

10.Facilitation of mutual understanding and consensus building.

Brief explanation of the process

  • For this methodology, a core group of people, known as the ‘Knowledge Management Team’ (KMT), is composed by the main stakeholders and the SDDP experts and coordinates the process. The KMT formulates a triggering question and invites the participants to answer it at a round-table session.
  • The participants’ answers need to be categorized using a bottom-up approach and recorded using the specialized software. Then, the answers are printed and posted/projected on the wall. The participants vote for the five most important to them ideas. The ideas that receive votes go to the next phase of the process.
  • Next step is the recording in the special software of the influences of one idea on another and finally, the production of the ‘influence tree’ that is subject to discussion to the participants.
Example of an influence tree