OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Rushed Decisions

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In the United States, public decision makers are required to involve the public in most decision making processes. The most common way to do this is to hold public hearings, although advisory groups, focus groups, surveys, and other methods are also used. While allowing decision makers to better gauge the interests and needs of the public, these processes also slow down decision making--sometimes to a considerable extent. When a problem is critical and there is a need to make a decision quickly, there is a strong incentive to try to shortcut the public involvement processes as much as possible, so that the decision can be made in a timely manner.

Decision makers are also sometimes tempted to rush decisions when they know the decision they need to make is controversial. In such a case public involvement is likely to be lengthy and inconclusive-some people will argue one way, others will want the opposite to occur. Decision makers may feel that listening to this give and take doesn't give them any more information than they already have, and it slows down the decision process. Other decision makers may hope that if they make a decision quickly, it won't get noticed as much, and won't become as controversial as it would be if the public participated in the deliberations. "Just do it!" is the approach some advocate.

However, rushed decisions often make people so angry that they will do whatever they can to block implementation of the decision after it is made. If legally required procedures were violated, they can challenge the decision in court. They can also try to block implementation through administrative channels, or can try to remove the decision makers and get the decision reversed. So trying to make decisions quickly often has the opposite effect of slowing the decision making process down, or stopping implementation of needed decisions completely.


Links to Examples of this Problem:

Hugh Wyndham -- The Falklands: Failure of a Mission
One of the reasons mediation failed in this case, the author observes, is that the mediator, Alexander Haig, did not give himself or the parties enough time to digest or react to new ideas as they came out.
Heidi Burgess- School Board Decision Making
Sometimes organizations try to rush decisions so that they can be made before opponents have a chance to organize or protest.  This is an example of that situation.

Links to Possible Treatments for this Problem:

Ground Rules

Deliberation Requirements


Links to Related Problems:

Strategic Delays

Meaningless Public Involvement

Unfulfilled Expectations

Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu