What is RDP?

The Rich Dialog Process (RDP) is a simple process for progressing discussions amongst stakeholders, particularly discussions which require some degree of deliberation. It was developed by Dr Paul Duignan and Jennifer Parker. A number of Rich Dialog Processes have been implemented by Professor Sally Casswell and her team at the Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation Centre (SHORE) at Massey University.

It is a simple and easy to implement approach to the increasingly popular practice of improving discussions between stakeholders on issues where there may be significantly different perceptions held by different parties. Its development arose out of a literature review of a range of deliberation and dialog methods undertaken for the Royal Society of New Zealand as part of a project looking at the general public's trust in the way government handles risks around the introduction of science and technology.

The essential requirements of the RDP method are: 

1.  allowing the different parties involved in the RDP time to deliberate on the issue in separate stakeholder groups

2. allowing for an interchange of information between the groups about their positions (the extent of the dialog depends on the complexity of the RDP process in each case).

Examples of where the RDP has been used:

Example 1: Science and Technology Risk Management

Public Attitudes Towards the Risk Associated With Science and Technology - general public group put  written questions to relevant government authorities and deliberated further on the replies. Royal Society of New Zealand.

In this RDP, a general public group was established drawing from a local school community so as to provide a group which had a reasonable a cross-section of adults. Facilitated meetings were held with this group to surface their concerns and questions regarding the implementation of science and technology. The output from these meetings was a list of questions which encapsulated the group's concerns in the form of a set of questions they wanted answered about the way that government regulators manage the risks around the introduction of science and technology. The questions identified were then sent in a written format via the facilitators to the various government authorities responsible for managing the risks around science and technology. The written responses from the government authorities were then taken back and the general public group deliberated on them. The overall outcome of the process identified the fact that the government had problems coordinating its position across a number of different agencies. When the general public group  did deliberate on the replies from the government authorities there was an increase in their trust in the authorities ability to effectively manage the risks around science and technology because they now knew more about the steps which are taken in this regard. 

Example 2: National Values Survey

Dialogue on the Results of a National Survey of Values - three groups deliberated on the findings of a national values survey inside the Access Grid - an internet based super video conferencing environment. Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE) Massey University.

This RDP involved a process of deliberation and dialog amongst a number of stakeholder groups regarding the findings from a national survey of values which is part of the World Values Survey. The World Values Survey is a long-term longitudinal survey of changes in values amongst countries around the world. In this RDP undertaken regarding the findings from a recent New Zealand wave of the survey, three groups were constituted. A general public group, a Not-for-Profit NGO group, a government policy makers group. Input was also sought from a group of indigenous Maori. An innovation in this RDP was holding it within the Access Grid. The Access Grid is an advanced super video-conferencing system which functions over the internet and allows multiple sites to share a virtual meeting in which they can not only view live video feeds of each site but also can view presentations at the same time on wall size screens with multiple dataprojected images. An initial meeting was held with all participants to brief them on the initial findings of the latest wave of the values survey. Then each of the groups met separately to discuss the findings from their perspectives. A summary set of conclusions from each of these separate groups meeting were emailed to the other participants. A final meeting was held with all of the participants from each of the groups coming together to discuss the implications of the findings. 

Example 3: Evidence-Based Alcohol and Drug Education 

Dialog Between Philanthropy and Government Funders and Providers Regarding Evidence-Based Alcohol and Drug Programs - a group of philanthropy/government funders and a group of providers deliberated separately on the results of a specifically prepared literature review on evidence-based alcohol and drug programs and then dialoged on the issues. ASB Trust & Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE) Massey University.

This RDP was based around discussion of a specifically prepared literature review of the evidence for effective alcohol and drug programs in schools which was prepared by the Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE). A group of philanthropy and government funders and a group of alcohol and drug program providers were presented with the findings by the researchers and deliberated on the findings separately. There initial conclusions were shared with the other group. A dialog meeting was then held where the two groups met to discuss the findings. From this group emerged a statement regarding the role of evidence in funding school-based alcohol and drug programs.

Creative Commons Copyright Paul Duignan and Jennifer Parker 2008