Our next step is "Problem Identification". Remember the old adage, If it ain't broke, don't fix it! If you can't articulate a compelling issue or problem, you have very little change of gaining public support for a proposed solution. There has to be a reason why you are proposing actions or solutions to fix something. Let me fall back to my profession to help define what a problem is not. A proposed timber sale is not a problem or issue! It is a possible tool or solution to resolve a problem. The problem has to do with a forest community condition that is unacceptable such as community health or improved diversity, etc.
This step takes time and can offer opportunities to involve your previously identified outside interests. These people can be very helpful in making sure you are defining a real problem that people can understand. I can not over emphasize the importance of the problem identification step. The public must understand and accept the need for change. DO NOT rely on the " silent majority" for support as they do not exist! Those who are silent, are silent only because they do not think they are going to be affected. I can assure you that as soon as they determine your proposed actions might affect them, they will search out other groups or individuals that best fit their values.
Please remember you must separate problems and issues from proposed actions or solutions during this planning step! Actions and solutions are tools and techniques for solving complex issues and problems!
Our next blog will offer ideas on the development of solutions to complex problems.