NWMO's play book to achieve "Informed Consent from the residents of South Bruce

Systematic Development of Informed Consent

Is fundamentally different from what most public agencies do, and so are the results. Most citizen participation efforts do not have real constructive results.

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Too often, in spite of good intentions and lots of work:

  • Public meetings turn into grand-standing sessions that leave citizens and public officials frustrated.
  • Advisory Committee efforts, more often than not, eventually wind up with everybody being angry with everyone else. (Who needs that?!) Based on 40+ years of research that had its origin at MIT in the late 1960s, SDIC is a practical strategy for you to communicate with your various potentially affected interests.


SDIC is not citizen participation as usual!

SDIC is based on 40+ years of research that had its origin at MIT in the late 1960s. We have trained officials with difficult and inherently controversial missions at all levels of government in disciplines as diverse as environmental regulation, public works, law enforcement, emergency management, education, transportation, resource management, hazardous waste, wildlife management. . . and more.


How can I become an Implementation Genius?”

What we try to do in all of our courses is: share with you what we have learned from 35+ years of R&D into the methods and tactics of Implementation Geniuses. Even though we do that in all of our various courses, we do it best in this course!

SDIC is the management strategy Implementation Geniuses use

The SDIC management strategy is what’s behind their astonishing ability to get even their opponents to “Grudgingly Go Along” with them. Therefore, the SDIC course is the most important course we teach.

Once you realize that Implementation Geniuses really can implement projects that others cannot, you are bound to ask yourself:

    • “What’s the key to their phenomenal success?”
    • “Is it legitimate?”
  • “Is this just another way to manipulate the public? Or to be a spin-doctor?”

Discover that Implementation Geniuses:

    • Don’t do more public involvement
    • In fact, they often do less
    • More importantly, they do it differently
    • And they are more honest, open, and legitimate than the average public-sector professionals
    • They develop an unusual, and often complicated relationship with their opponents… especially with their project’s fiercest opponents that is neither an agreement nor a conventional disagreement.
    • We describe this arrangement as “the Grudging Willingness of Opponents to (grudgingly) go along with a Course of Action they, actually, are Opposed to…”
  • We call it: “Informed Consent”


What exactly is “Informed Consent?”

Implementation Geniuses systematically develop Informed Consent — with their fiercest opponents!

    • They use Citizen Participation strictly as a tool in their Consent-Building efforts
  • They, unlike most other public officials, never do Citizen Participation as “an End in Itself,” but only as “a Means to an End. That “end,” or objective, being the Informed Consent of their fiercest opponents.

Critical SDIC Points

Working with Implementation Geniuses – primarily officials who have become Implementation Geniuses as a result of our SDIC/CPO training – demonstrates several amazing things:

The relationship between the professionals in your agency, the elected and/or appointed political decision-makers who make policy for your agency, and your various potentially affected interests …is rarely what people think it is and always has the potential for being very different from what it appears to be!

No matter how much of an “Over-My-Dead-Body” attitude your opponents have, and no matter what those opponents’ motive is, and no matter how impossible it looks …you probably can develop their Informed Consent. The possibility is there, provided you work for a legitimate organization, and your proposal is legitimate.

Democratic decision-making… the idea of participatory “self-governance” is much more difficult than people realize The people who invented Democracy – the Greeks of 2,500 years ago – failed utterly at making Democracy work, and gave up on it. They concluded that it couldn’t work!

What few attempts have been made at Democracy since have not worked particularly well. To top it off, the kind of Democracy we are trying in the United States is the most daring — and probably the most brilliantly conceived. However, in many ways, our Democracy is also the most unworkable ever invented. Thomas Jefferson and his cohorts who came up with the ground rules for this Democracy built it around the rights of the individual… not around the rights of society, or the group, or the majority, as every other society has always done.

The resulting “Jeffersonian” Democracy is designed to give individuals, and other special interests, tremendous clout… including the clout to monkey-wrench, stop, derail, stall, stymie, torpedo, and veto governmental proposals.

No other governmental system ever designed anywhere in the whole history of mankind gives “Over-My-Dead-Body” opponents the kind of negative clout that Jeffersonian Democracy gives them!

That is why public agencies in the US have a much greater need for Consent-Building skills than their counterparts in other countries. In virtually every other country, “the group” prevails over the individual.


But you don’t know my project, the issues, and my public!

SDIC will change your effectiveness, AND your life!

Informed Consent is not natural… not with interests who will be hurt by your proposal. And, you will, with virtually every proposal you make, be forced to hurt someone because it’s a fact of life that virtually every solution to a complex problem will hurt some interests. Opposition, even “Over-My-Dead-Body” opposition, is a far more natural response when your proposal threatens to offend someone’s values than agreement, consensus, or even “grudging” consent… Unless you design Informed Consent… build Informed Consent… engineer Informed Consent… it won’t be there when you come out with your proposal.
When the professionals in an agency develop a technical proposal for their political decision-makers without also developing and delivering Informed Consent, they virtually guarantee political grid-lock and indecision.

On the other hand, Implementation Geniuses get the same political decision-makers to make decisions… even difficult, painful, unpopular decisions.


One reason their political decision-makers are able and willing to bite the bullet is because of the effect Implementation Geniuses have on the “political climate” surrounding their proposal:

    • Implementation Geniuses create an informed public
    • That informed public engages in an informed public debate
    • That, in turn, creates an informed political debate
  • And, that – in turn – leads to informed political decisions

Ordinary, humble technical or professional public-sector professionals — who are dedicated to their mission, and who have the courage to do things differently from the way they’re done by most of their colleagues can be phenomenally effective, amazingly influential, and stunningly successful!

The SDIC course helps you discover the larger decision-making framework that you fit into as a professional working in a Jeffersonian Democracy.

It gives you a big enough perspective where “politics” no longer is a four-letter word, and no longer is synonymous with “irrational” and “frustration.” From that bigger and better perspective, you discover that your role as a technical expert doesn’t have to be one of near-irrelevance in the political decision-making process. You will discover that the potential exists for you to have much greater influence over political decision-making than you ever thought… without becoming a political player yourself… and, without manipulating the public or the political decision-makers… but rather by being brutally honest, and nothing less than professionally responsible.


What all is covered in the course?

SDIC Learning Objectives

    • Why and how proposals are torpedoed
    • Why technical and scientific professionals responsible for public-sector missions are only as effective as they are persuasive
    • The “Technical Fallacy” — Why no amount of scientific analysis can resolve values conflicts
    • How scientific analysis needs to mesh with Systematic Consent-Building if it is to influence political debate and political decisions
    • Why most Public Meetings and Advisory Committees used by most public agencies are somewhere between useless and counter-productive
    • Why pleasing everyone is neither possible, necessary, nor even ethical
  • Why and how you MUST satisfy this society’s concepts of Fairness, Rights, Freedoms, Liberties, and Responsibilities

You’ll see how you can incorporate these concepts into your day-to-day project planning processes

Why it is more difficult, and more important for public officials in the U.S. to develop Informed Consent than it is in any other country

How and why Thomas Jefferson’s idea of trying to create a society where individual values are relatively sovereign has resulted in a government that is:

Fundamentally different from all other governments ever created anywhere – primarily responsible for protecting the rights of the individual – burdened with lots of responsibilities, but relatively little clout – mandated to have the public’s consent over, and over, and over… if it is to get anything accomplished.

  • The role values play in (people’s likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, etc.):  building Informed Consent – creating “Over-My-Dead-Body” attitudes, including potentially violent “Extremists.”

Who should take SDIC?

Both technical experts and elected/appointed officials can become Implementation Geniuses

Public officials with responsibility for important, but difficult-to-implement projects, programs, regulations, and missions are the most obvious beneficiaries of this training. Engineers, scientists, systems analysts, managers, administrators, and other hired professionals in public agencies benefit most because it’s their professional work — and their careers — that are wasted when their recommendations are torpedoed. However, elected and politically appointed decision-makers can also use SDIC. They suffer many of the same frustrations as do the professionals. Although the R&D that went into the development of SDIC was carried out primarily in the public-sector, private-sector managers whose proposals are vulnerable to vetoes and political gridlock can also use SDIC to raise their batting average for project implementation.

So, what aren’t you telling us about SDIC?

There is GOOD News and BAD News about our Consent-Building Methodology:

  • the BAD News: The SDIC management strategy is neither easy to learn nor is it easy to use
  • the GOOD News: It IS learn-able!In fact, even though it has taken us 35+ years to perfect it, you can learn the basics of it in just a few days! It is very do-able.

Once you start using our Consent-Building Methodology, you become more and more effective. You too will become an “Implementation Genius.”

What else can I expect to learn?

Experienced administrators who attend this course often tell us that it has been one of the most empowering, enlightening, valuable, useful learning experiences they’ve ever been exposed to.

Main SDIC Topics:

  • the VETO phenomenon: Why and how even a single, small, but determined opposing minority or special interest can torpedo a project
  • SEACA (or Informed Consent), which is the solution to the VETO problem
  • Values: Their structure, importance in our Jeffersonian Democracy, and their pivotal role in Consent-Building
  • 60 Fundamental Principles and 15 Objectives of Consent-Building
  • The 6 Most Common and Serious Citizen Participation Errors
  • Our PAI-Issues Matrix: a method for simplifying even a very complex mix of special interests into a manageable system

Makes more sense than anything else I’ve heard of in all my years of education and life-experiences. If I use even half of what I’ve learned in this course, I will be much more successful in my work as well as with the rest of my life.”
-Paula Schmittdiel, Remedial Project Manager, US Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund; Denver, CO


This is an exception to the rule that training is a waste of time & money

We have oodles and oodles of references . . . !

If you’re still not convinced it is worth 3 days of your time, you can get a reference for virtually any public-sector discipline. Just call and we’ll put you in touch with someone in the same or similar discipline who has had and used our training. These folks can explain how it will change your work and life on a daily basis, and how positive and powerful our Consent-Building Methodology truly is.

Try the Bleikers’ Money-Back Guarantee

If you attend and are engaged in all 3 days of one of our training sessions, and can honestly say you didn’t learn anything that applies to preventing, healing, and resolving political gridlock on the projects you are mandated to implement, we will give you a refund of the course tuition. You see, we make that guarantee because we are willing to bet that if you take a mere 3 days out of your schedule and apply yourself to learn what we have to offer, you will save yourself and your agency years of frustration, wasted funds on lawsuits and unnecessary research, and a life of being ineffective!

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