The not-for-profit Center for Innovative Thinking (CIT), is committed to improving how we engage each other in this society. CIT has been engaged with business organizations since 1994.
In early 2000, CIT determined to strategically shift emphasis of intervention to the emerging issue of ‘Group Think’. This is the dysfunctional aspect of collective [team; committee; initiative] ‘thinking’ where the ‘leader’ becomes the major influence leading to the group’s determination. Often a disingenuous decision, and the wrong decision.
From an evaluation of the many paths and initiatives to engage citizens, one stood out. Jury Service in the broader justice system. The courts across our nation had structured processes to enlist citizen participation within the tenants of the sixth amendment of our constitution, executing fair justice.
By court(s) design, citizen jurors were randomly selected from either voter registrations or through valid driver’s licenses, State by State. That design, initially, enlisted mostly strangers. inexperienced in group dynamics; little to poor command of personal expression; often a cultural/ethnic divide and inherently biased as are most individuals.
CIT felt that by initially working with the courts, inroads of improvement in discussion and decision-making would result. CIT approached the American Bar Association; worked directly with the ABA committee on jury innovation made-up of State Trial Judges.
The business model was successfully modified into a trial-ready jury discussion framework and subsequently introduced to nearly 20 jury trials and hearings by cooperating Judges in Michigan and Wisconsin over the next few years. CIT’s demands were that jurors could take home printed materials for application in their community.
The National ABA conference of 2000 followed soon thereafter the committee put forth the new deliberation process as a jury innovation. Trial materials were produced and distributed to any Judge that requested them.
Through feedback from the testing juries, who actually experienced the alternative framework, it became clear that the discussion needs in the jury room were distinctly different than the argument-based courtroom trial. The new constituency for the benefits of this framework became the jurors, hence the citizens. They could introduce the process to other jurors when summoned, as well as taking the discussion improvements back to their community.
With the rise of bi-partisanship and polarization in the public sector it became evident that fair and just deliberations were needed, even more, in the community, with each other and within the community’s initiatives with governance.
The Center for Innovative Thinking, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was activated as a new means of seeking funding that the courts are reluctant to expend. This exclusive methodology can be made available for nation-wide application.