SDD Readings

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Essential SDD Book and Paper Readings

Christakis AN, Bausch K (2006) How people harness their collective wisdom and power. Information Age Publishing, Greenwich.

This book explores and encourages the use of the SDP (Structured Design Process) for generating dialogue as a means of activating participatory democracy. The authors make the point that people all over the world aspire to participatory democracy. Their book is aimed at showing that due to the complexity of the Information Age (with a potential overload of information and with the multi-dimensional character of the social issues at stake) participatory democracy is often not feasible in practice. The SDP offers an approach to generating dialogue that renders the ideal of participatory democracy feasible in practice. What is specific about SDP is that it provides conditions for people to genuinely learn from one another by giving all stakeholders an equal opportunity to "make distinctions" as part of the process of creating a vocabulary of accepted distinctions - that is, as part of the process of constructing "the world". The process of democratic distinction making produces a constructed social reality by constructing a "consensual linguistic domain" which allows people to communicate. The authors have provided a wealth of experience to show how learning - thus defined - can indeed be achieved through SDP. They point out that the "power" that becomes generated through SDP is one of "mutual persuasion and respect". They emphasize that this is "radically different than the power often experienced in other types of group work, where power relation is based on authority (positional or expertise) or personality (the person who dominates)". (Review by Norma R. A. Romm)


Flanagan, T.R. and Christakis, A.N. (2009) The Talking Point: Creating an Environment for Exploring Complex Meaning, Information Age Publishing Inc., Charlotte, NC, USA.

This book offers a practical, computer-aided way of facilitating dialogue between stakeholders who may have radically different initial views and frameworks for understanding issues of concern. It explains how a structured dialogue design process (SDD) is aimed at creating an environment where meaning can be collaboratively developed, while participants appreciate how their frameworks for understanding the world can be modified, extended, or replaced in order to create depth of insight into "the problem".

The book is set out in accessible language for readers who are not familiar with the SDD process. Examples of cases where facilitators and design managers have worked with stakeholders to address issues are set out in detail. Examples include: working with children at risk of dropping out of school (USA); working with indigenous cultural groups such as Native Americans to design strategies for collaborating; and working in Cyprus on peace-building initiatives for the island. (Review by Norma R. A. Romm)

Laouris, Y. (2010. The ABCs of the science of structured dialogic design. Int. J. of Applied Systemic Studies, 2012 Vol.4, No.4, pp.239 - 257. DOI: 10.1504/IJASS.2012.052235

Other Listings

A comprehensive listing is available at: http://www.globalagoras.org/publications/article-library/