For a girl from a young democratic nation the idea of deep democracy sounded extremely complex. As much as the concept of democracy is very much appealing to me and my fellow Mongolians, the application of democracy does not seem quite right, at least not in Mongolia (nor in the US). So, this is why I was perplexed at the beginning to learn about Deep Democracy in my facilitation and negotiation course at UBC. Throughout the course, my classmates and I were exposed to different techniques, skills and tools and DD, both conceptually and technique-wise, is the guiding star for those skills and tools. As part of the course, I interviewed Belamie Peddle. This interview gave me a chance to comprehend some of the questions I had on Deep Democracy. I am grateful for the opportunity for this interview and generous time that Belamie gave to share her experience.
Is DD philosophical or practical?
One of my questions was whether I should see Deep Democracy as a philosophy or a tool. She answered “it is both”. And she explained that this was one of the reasons she revered it, because it has a very practical aspect to it and at the same time talks to a deeper underlying philosophy. She is right. In the rapidly globalizing world of today, the seeds of conflicts are watered by different philosophies (without proper practical application tools) and grow to polarize to the extremes. This is where the value of Deep Democracy practice weighs the most.
Day to day life of DD practitioner:
I was curious to know how Belamie would use Deep Democracy in her day to day life, especially as she was raised by the “mother" of DD, Myrna Lewis. She admitted that it was an intrinsic part of the way in which she viewed the world and is pleased that she can practice what she believes. Her husband, Alain, has had some exposure to DD and understands as well as puts up with what she does. As a result the tools come in handy to resolve conflict, improve family dynamics and strengthen relationships at home. “If it was not for our regular Friday night Check In, Alain and I would not be in the comfortable space we are in today” she said when I asked her how I could use to the tools to address some of my uneasiness with my husband.
Learn as you grow:
One of Belamie’s approaches in practicing DD is by incorporating her own character into it. She has attended and co facilitated events and workshops since she was a young adult, so she has had ample opportunity to practice the skills and integrate her own personality into her practice. After all, she said, the process is fluid and alive. She delights in seeing people find their own style with the work. However; she also admits, it can be emotional and feel chaotic at time too. So it is important to realize that things are not always going to be comfortable. In a sense this is both the beauty and challenge of doing DD; you are constantly learning and growing.
Not all are ready for dropping autocracy
Belamie admitted that approximately 45% of the delegates dropped-out of a recent CoResolve Program that she ran within an engineering company. Apparently they didn’t see the relevancy of CoResolve in the workplace. The remaining delegates, however, really appreciated and valued being given tools to handle people issues, get their colleagues buy-in and maximize the potential within their teams. However, if we see the drop-offs as a fractal pattern of the whole, then we might say that there is a strong role of resistance or dismissal in the corporate world for participative leadership tools.
DD in Asia
I feel that Asia would be an ideal place to apply DD. I'm biased by birth. Because my experience of being born in Mongolia and being raised around Buddhist and Zen philosophy, I savour the Deep Democracy approach. I feel that the young democracy of Mongolia inflicted by abundance of natural resource (and its possible curse) many of the immature decisions and imperfect process can be corrected so that we may finally have democracy with democratic process. So, I very much welcome the news that Belamie will be in Asia for the next two years and that there would be an opportunity for her to visit Mongolia.