Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 24, Iss. 2 > Art. 31 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Improving problem definition and project planning in complex natural resource management problem situations using knowledge brokers and visual design principles

Kathi K. Beratan, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University (retired)


Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


Collaborative adaptive management (CAM) has proved difficult to implement successfully. Insufficient attention to the problem definition process contributes to disappointing outcomes because that step sets the problem-solving approach and the attitudes of key partners. The exploratory problem assessment (EA) approach is a practical and cost-effective way for CAM project managers to learn enough about a problem situation quickly enough to identify critical partners and incorporate their input into problem definition and project planning. EA is a facilitated conceptual modeling approach built around two basic ideas: knowledge-focused facilitation can improve the problem definition process, and information design concepts can assist in building common understandings of complex situations. A facilitator with knowledge-brokering skills gathers and integrates information from people with diverse experiential and technical knowledge of the problem situation. The results are presented as information-rich and readily understandable diagrammatic conceptual models that can function as change theories for project planning. The EA approach and visual design strategy are described, with two illustrative cases showing how the approach can be applied in practice.

Key words

collaborative adaptive management; information design; knowledge broker; problem definition; process facilitation; process planning

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087