I have the privilege of working as a representative in an exciting, new kind of governance body – a ROUND TABLE. Now when I say “NEW”, the historians amongst you may bristle, and point to the early twentieth century origins in Britain. What Wikipedia doesn’t show is the current use of ROUNDTABLES as more than just a form of academic discussion, but a new way of bringing governance to an often diverse group of stakeholders.

I have been participating on the Core Committee of the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable. The process of forming the Roundtable took years and evolved from the Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy.  When the Roundtable officially formed, it was defined as ” a multi-interest body with members representing various sectors with interests in the watershed. Governments and government agencies are represented on the Roundtable, which is an independent entity, not under government direction. The Roundtable does not have authority to make decisions related to the jurisdictional authority or legislative responsibilities of governments or government agencies.”  Now my initial sentence, states that the Roundtable is a governance body, and ultimately, by having all the stakeholders together, with common goals and common values, it is my belief that the Roundtable will drive decisionmaking through its collective strength. After all this is my BLOG, I can say what I believe without censure.

Ultimately, what I want to comment on at this juncture is that this process is working, and working brilliantly. On a subcommittee tasked with revisioning the website, stakeholders have donated hours of time on a regular basis to work through goals, visions, beliefs and ideas to achieve consensus. This is no small feat. Yet, outsiders working with the group, see us as homogenous.

I see the subcommittee as a diverse group of experienced community leaders, each with a view of the Watershed and the world, willing to share and debate, but even more willing to achieve harmony. Our enemies are time, constraints on our creativity and assaults on our cohesiveness. Yet these very things, perhaps like all opposing forces, only serve to bring us closer. I have great respect for each member of this group, for everything they bring to the table.

How lucky I am to have the luxuries of time, creativity and consensus-building skills so I can participate fully. As I participate, thinking (Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve) I have spent most of my life as an “Innovator” or “Early Adopter”, and seeing many of the other members as “Late Majority” or  later, I find myself delighted that we are working in a modern process style and exploring extremely innovative ideas. Diversity, when given opportunity and nurture, can point the way to new and successful paths.

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