Encouraging Broad Participation

Sometimes it is not easy to achieve active involvement by many shura participants. This could be because the right people were not invited, but often it happens as a result of how people feel about the way they are being treated during the Discuss phase.

As the shura initiator, you want to create room for participants to share their views and the evidence to support them. Doing this can help open up opportunities for understanding to develop and the empathy that grows from it. Honest dialogue is at the heart of every successful shura.

But what about the behavior of some people who prefer to point out the negatives of an idea and give reasons why it will not work? How do you avoid hurt feelings that might come from this to increase to the point where diverse views are thought to be unwanted?

One way to address this situation is to make it clear at the very beginning of a shura that anyone who thinks an idea or a recommended course of action will not work must offer one that they think is better. Let everyone know that it is not enough to point out what they think are weaknesses in an idea. A more beneficial shura is one where each idea is given due consideration such that the merit of an idea rises to the top.

Most of us make lots of bad decisions as we individually or collectively work through a process of considering alternative courses of action. Some of this happens because of the way our minds process and understand the world. We tend to filter out information that does not conform to our way thinking, and this might lead to our rejecting what turns out to be essential to better understanding a problem.

To help keep us from falling into this trap, each shura participant should remind each other to challenge our assumptions and test our conclusions. Doing this is fundamentally different from criticizing an idea. Challenging is about encouraging someone to provide evidence or to better explain how the evidence supports the recommended course of action.

We are more likely to be actively involved in a shura where each of us feel that our participation is valued as much as that of everyone else. Including the shura initiator, it is everyone’s responsibility to establish and maintain a shura environment where this behavior prevails.

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