Planning cell

Description of planning cell and citizen’s reports

The planning cell was developed as a method in the early 1970s by Peter C. Dienel and has been used extensively since then.

Planning cells are intended to enable people to assume their responsibility as responsible members of society or part of an organisation and to contribute their special skills to solve existing problems.

By bringing together those affected and topic-specific experts, the planning cell is an extremely effective instrument for dealing with problems or developing new concepts.

The laypersons or affected persons, who are referred to as experts in the planning cell, contribute their diverse everyday knowledge to the process, which is supplemented by the specialist knowledge of the experts. In this way, the experts become experts within a few days, who have the best prerequisites for working on the topic at hand. In order to achieve a cross-section of society or an organisation that is as representative as possible, the participants are selected by random sampling.

The implementation of a planning cell is preceded by an intensive preparation phase. During this phase, the topic of the planning cell is clarified together with the client and the programme is drawn up. Furthermore, the relevant experts are selected and the information material for the experts and participants is prepared.

During the implementation, 20 to 25 experts in a planning cell work on a specific problem, usually for four days. Each day is divided into four work units, each of which is dedicated to a thematic focus.

Experts and affected stakeholders provide the participants with introductory information in short presentations, hearings and inspections. These may well be controversial. In four to five small groups of five people each, the experts then discuss detailed problems and look for joint decisions. The procedure must be open-ended. The randomly selected experts decide and advise on behalf of all members of the groups they represent. Constantly changing small groups guarantee fair discussion situations in which no opinion leadership can develop. The last day of the planning cell is used, among other things, to summarize and discuss the results of the previous days and to formulate recommendations.

After completion of the planning cell, the recommendations are summarised by the moderators in a citizen’s report. As a rule, the citizen’s report has a great impact because the will of the people concerned becomes tangible in it. The high acceptance rate in the areas represented by the experts opens up a considerable potential for activation both among the participants of the planning cells and generally among those affected. Planning cells are particularly suitable for the processing of problems whose solution requires broad social or organization-wide approval.

Depending on the scope of the topic at hand, several planning cells can also be carried out in parallel. This leads to a further increase in representativeness.

Planning cells can work on very different topics. They are suitable for clarifying conflicts and overcoming paralysis situations as well as for finding new, innovative solutions within the framework of future plans. They often mobilise new forces among those involved and motivate them to actively tackle problems.

Thus, planning cells – adapted to the context – can also be used as participation processes in organisations and companies.

Planning cells have a number of decisive advantages over other participation processes: They are independent, fact-oriented and the participants put the overall interest before individual interests and look for the recognizable common good. With their help, it is possible to make even unpopular decisions.

Die Planungszelle

References:
Dienel, Peter C.: Demokratisch, Praktisch, Gut. Merkmale, Wirkungen und Perspektiven von Planungszellen und Bürgergutachten. Bonn: Dietz Verlag 2009.
Dienel, Hans-Liudger: Public Participation Procedures in Germany: An Overview. In: Ping Liu/Rudolf Traub-Merz (Hg.): Public Participation in Local Decision-Making: China and Germany. Shanghai: Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Press, 2009, 139-154.
Hans-Liudger Dienel: Citizens’ Juries and Planning Cells: Deliberative Democratic Processes for Consultation and Conflictual Problems. In: Ping Liu/Rudolf Traub-Merz
(Hg.): Public Participation in Local Decision-Making: China and Germany. Shanghai: Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Press, 2009, S. 159-180.
Hans-Liudger Dienel: Wann kommt die breite Einführung der Planungszelle. Ein Vorwort. In: Peter Dienel: Demokratisch, Praktisch, Gut. Merkmale, Wirkungen und Perspektiven von Planungszellen und Bürgergutachten. Bonn: Dietz Verlag 2009, 5-15.
Dienel, Peter C.: Die Planungszelle. Der Bürger als Chance. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag, 2002. (Standardwerk, 5 Aufl. mit Statusreport)
Reinert, Adrian: Mobilisierung der Kompetenz von Laien – Die Methode Planungszelle/Bürgergutachten. In: Apel, H./Dernbach, D./Ködelpeter, Th./Weinbrenner P. (Hrsg.), Wege zur Zukunftsfähigkeit – ein Methodenhandbuch, Stiftung MITARBEIT; Bonn, 1998. S. 115-126.

Source: Nexus-Institut, www.partizipative-methoden.de