Structured Democratic Dialogue: An application of a mathematical problem structuring method to facilitate reforms with local authorities in Cyprus
This paper reports on a Community Operational Research (Community OR) project consisting of ten ap- plications of a problem structuring method (PSM) with the Local Government Authorities of Cyprus. The PSM, Structured Democratic Dialogue Process (SDDP), is a systemic methodology that sits somewhere between Soft OR and traditional OR methods. It uses natural language constructs to support stakehold- ers explore similarity and influence relations between their distinct observations, and directed graphs to illustrate and communicate the consensus results. Matrix operations that take place behind the scenes make it possible for people from all walks of life to deal with complex societal problems without needing to master systems science. The application of the SDDP methodology in the case of the Local Government Authorities of Cyprus created the trust and the momentum necessary to achieve large-scale consensus and facilitate envisioned societal reforms. SDDP may have value for Community OR more broadly because of its emphasis on meaningful stakeholder and community participation.