Community At Work is both a consulting firm and a think tank.
AS A CONSULTING FIRM

We specialize in group decision-making. Our clients usually need help solving complex problems that cannot be solved by traditional hierarchical structures. For example, a number of our cases involve the delivery of community services (education, health care, transportation, housing, etc.) A common goal in such a case is to improve the working relationships among, on the one hand, the state and local government entities that fund and regulate the services and, on the other hand, the community-based organizations that provide and deliver the services. This requires meaningful participation from diverse stakeholders. As consultants, we help the principals create a collaborative process design. Then we facilitate the involved parties to think together in search of innovative, inclusive solutions that will lead to sustainable agreements. Our clients also include large businesses that retain us to assist in planning-and-design projects that require broad participation. From the perspective of group decision-making, the principles that allow a marketing department to collaborate with a research and development department are the same principles that help government and community agencies to work together. Thus we consult to diverse organizations, whenever our specialization can be helpful to their goals. A distinctive feature of all our work is our tendency to provide clients with training in the concepts and skills of group decision-making. Sometimes the training is conducted as a formal workshop; often it is done informally, as part of the agenda of each meeting.

AS A THINK TANK

Our purpose is to study the actual dynamics of group decision-making and develop more accurate models and methods that can support people to solve the world’s toughest problems. The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision–Making, our best-selling book, was written in “think tank mode.” For five years the co-authors met for three days a month to develop, test and refine the ideas presented in the book. We intend our models to combine the insights of the social sciences with the practical ingenuity of the American business world and the wisdom of nonviolent social activism.