Creative Insight Council

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The Creative Insight Council is a term for an evolution of the Wisdom Council format, initially created by Jim Rough. A Wisdom Council is group chosen at random, as a microcosm of the larger whole; the Wisdom Council is free to choose its own topics of what it thinks is most significant for the well-being of the larger whole. It is facilitated using Dynamic Facilitation, a specific non-linear, empathy-based process that allows maximum divergence and creativity among participants, paradoxically resulting in strong areas of convergence and common ground. The outcomes of the Wisdom Council are then presented to the larger whole, in a way that encourages further conversation and exploration; the process is meant to be iterative, and its outcomes to embody a sort of "State of the Union" address, yet one that is generated by the people themselves, not by a governmental authority. The power of the Wisdom Council is seen as one of shifting the terms of the conversation -- one of influencing and advising, not of creating legal mandates.

In Vorarlberg, Austria, where there have been a large number of experiments with Wisdom Councils and Dynamic Facilitation, practitioners saw a need to apply this approach for situations in which there was a predetermined topic that needed to be addressed by a microcosm of the population at large, in order to arrive at collective wisdom with regard to that topic. That's what catalyzed the creation a new term, to distinguish a Creative Insight Council from its predecessor. While the main distinction between a Wisdom Council and a Creative Insight Council is that the Creative Insight Council is convened to address a pre-selected topic, this pre-selected topic is only loosely defined, and also, there are no predetermined categories of response to constrain the Council's exploration.

In Austria, where both of these processes are currently being most used, they tend to not distinguish a "Wisdom Council" from a "Creative Insight Council"; the call both of them, "BurgerRäte" "BurgerInnerRäte". Sometimes they refer to them indistinctively with the English term "Wisdom Councils", although they are now beginning to use "Civic Councils", a new term meant to include both.

Recent Example

One of the most recent and notable examples of a Creative Insight Council was to address the topic of refugees. Here is the link to a five minute video of the process, Also, here is a link to the English-language version of the report which contains 22 pages of documentation:

The relevance of Creative Insight Councils to P2P work

The work being carried out in Austria is leading-edge effort by the people in a small governmental office (The Office of Future-Related Issues, of the State of Vorarlberg) to draw on the wisdom of the commons to inform public policy. Thus far, they have conducted 30+ successful experiments along these lines. Much of their work has not yet been translated into English. I (RosaZ) have compiled the translations that we do have, on this page:

Both Creative Insight Councils and Wisdom Councils utilize the same facilitation methodology. These formats are distinctive (and unlike conventional forms of public participation) in that they use a meta-rational process (one that does not exclude rationality, but is also open to emotional expression and creative expression).

This non-linear process helps groups reach a "common ground" unanimous statement, by means of fully welcoming divergences; along the way, it builds a spirit of community and often generates breakthrough solutions. Membership in the Council is selected by sortition (at random, like a poll), sometimes using stratified sampling in order to ensure a result that is demographically representative. This means that the outcomes that the Council arrives at, can be seen as carrying a legitimate voice of "the people".


This process has not yet begun to spread in the U.S. Jim Rough, the U.S. inventor who inspired the work in Austria, has a website here: URL =

Earlier, he wrote on this page, about the need for Creative Insight Councils:

Recently, I witnessed a group of frustrated property owners threatening my County Commissioners with costly lawsuits. The Commissioners are trying to implement a new policy that restricts building within 150 feet of shore. It’s an attempt to protect the environment and assure that we as a society don’t unwittingly destroy our natural resources. But when government tries to impose restrictions on citizens like this, the ordinary form of public involvement often spark a pushback against both the regulations and the politicians. Releasing the anger of these citizens can hold up action on the issue for years, wasting valuable public funds, undermining the protection to the environment, and even unseating the officials.

This is not the best way for communities to be talking about these kinds of issues, in yes/no terms about regulations that are clearly suboptimal. Better would be if all citizens could come together, hold a creative conversation that included each person’s unique viewpoint and determine a shared perspective. The CIC seeks to facilitate this kind of talking in the community, by framing issues in a way that inspires people to think creatively." (

Earlier examples

Jim's same blog article discusses the experiment in Bregenz, Austria, at