Technology of Participation

ToPs uses three highly participatory techniques to foster creative thinking, consensus-based decision making and team building. Its methods generate ownership, create clear goals, open lines of communication, broaden perspectives and motivate people to adapt to their changing environment while honoring the cultural traditions and diversity of all involved. The three methods are:

1.) The Focused Conversation Method: A common sense approach that leads
naturally to a meaningful exchange of ideas. Outcomes include conducting purposeful discussions, capturing a group's best thinking easily, surfacing new ideas and solutions and stimulating candid feedback.

2.) The Consensus Workshop Method: This is a structured process that engages and energizes people as they come to consensus. Outcome include tapping into rational and intuitive thought processes, integrating diverse ideas, generating practical and creative
solutions, and establishing group consensus around ideas and actions.

3.) The Action/Strategic Planning Method: This process of practical steps help groups plan, organize resources and build commitment to an idea or action. Outcomes include: a clear vision of a successful result, an analysis the current reality, creation of a practical plan and maximum group involvement. This method has four steps, each following the other building to the final step – implementation.

Practical vision work. This first step addresses the question "What do we want to see in place in 3-5 years as a result of our actions?" The intent is to identify the group's hopes and dreams for the organization, business or community. The goal is to develop group ownership of a common vision of the future.

What barriers or blocks prevent us from realizing our vision? This second step addresses the question "What is blocking us from moving toward our vision?" This is not a problem solving exercise. It would identify beliefs and assumptions you are locked into and ways you are operating that are in contradiction to what you want to accomplish. This approach shifts from problem solving to creating and away from 'lack of' to 'possibility.'

Strategic directions. This third step addresses the question "What innovative, substantial actions will deal with the barriers/blocks and move us toward our vision?" This process would build on existing strengths and opportunities. It would enable the group to create clearly focused yet innovative and empowering strategies that set a course for the organization, business or community. One goal will be to generate commitment within the group to practical possibilities.

Focused Implementation. This final step addresses the question "What will our specific, measurable accomplishments be for the first year? The goal of this step is to the leave the strategic planning with a detailed plan of action with timelines and assignments that begins building a foundation for each strategic direction identified in step one.