Developed by organizational development consultant Jim Rough, a wisdom council is a one-time, randomly selected group of stakeholders who, with facilitation, produce a consensus statement that is made available to the larger population for further dialogue and action. It is based on the idea that - under the right circumstances - ordinary people together can discover or create the wisdom they need to solve their shared problems and improve their shared future.
Wisdom councils are most powerful when they are conducted periodically (for example, for a week or twice a year, each time with a different membership) as a function of ongoing community dialogue.
Each wisdom council generates a quantum leap in shared insight which, when fed back into the community dialogue, raises the quality of subsequent collective reflection. Then, after a period of broad dialogue in which everyone's understanding matures further, another random handful of people are selected to participate in another wisdom council, thus generating another boost of community wisdom.
The fact that a wisdom council is facilitated towards consensus makes it especially powerful, because it helps non-participants vicariously work through issues that they may not be able to work through in personal dialogues because there was a lack of neutral facilitation. On the other hand, the wisdom council's findings must be digested and modified by the community in widespread dialogue before those findings qualify as usable collective wisdom. The more dialogue the larger group undertakes before and after the wisdom council's deliberations, the more powerful the resulting collective wisdom will be.