Insight into deliberative democracy, participatory governance, flat organization models and large group decision making techniques.

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Icebreaker Game / Team Building Activity: "My Skills Club"

I created the following icebreaker game with an aim to get people talking to each other, and to also get people to talk about their own skills and the skills they share, which can be useful towards team building and staff self-awareness.  It's fun, easy to prepare and provides useful outputs of lists of shared skills among participants. Alternatively, you could do the activity not about skills but about other shared characteristics, but skills makes sense for team building type workshops.

My Skills Club

Instructions to participants

Dot Voting vs. Idea Rating Sheets

If you like sticker dot voting (aka multi-voting), then you will love idea rating sheets. Here's why...

Online Survey 'Page Randomization' feature is Expensive


I did some research and it seems only premium pay packages for online survey tools provide the "Page Randomization" feature. Here are the results of my research:

Geraldton 2029: Amazing Example of Deliberative Democracy Documented

Geraldton 2029 logoAfter watching the 7 minute video of Janette Hartz-Karp describing a sustainability initiative in Geraldton, Australia, I was curious to see what techniques they used to enage the public in long term local planning.

Examples of Wise Democracy Using Random Citizens

Here is a great article by George Sranko that describes a variety of success stories using random citizens to give direction to government.

"There are two key ingredients: direct involvement by a representative cross-section of the entire community, province, or nation through random selection of citizens; and dynamic facilitation that empowers the group to reach a unified perspective via creative shifts and breakthroughs, rather than through the usual back-and-forth negotiation."

Read the full article: - Another idea rating system is a new web app + service designed to act as a "virtual town-hall" for municipal engagement. It includes idea rating, commenting, voting and a user score system designed to reward frequent contributors. Its a US base company marketing the tool specifically to community leaders and elected officials. Seem like a cool tool, although I'd assume like any open invitation approach (including traditional town halls), the prioritization of ideas is open to manipulation through strategic online campaigning by large groups. Check out the intro video below.


Mind Mixer from protokulture on Vimeo. democratic governance model and web app

snapshot of has recently released a web based "open and democratic project management tool", and it looks very promising.  Along with basic tools like a wiki, discussion boards and document storage, it has array of tools for collectively prioritizing tasks, estimatating work item complexity, reviewing work, allocating compensation, and voting on motions.  The entire system seems to be built around a set of values that enforce and promote transparency, accountability, cooperation, pragmatism, and distributed leadership.

I could imagine it working with open source developers, maybe some collaborative scientists, activist collectives, and dnew not-for-profits.  I look forward to seeing how this tool evolves, what kinds of groups use and what for.

Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review

In the USA, many state elections include "initiatives", which are a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote (plebiscite) on a government decision. In the run up to state elections, the media airwaves are filled with support and opposition soundbite advertisements and debates.

In Oregon, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization called Healthy Democracy Oregon has piloted the "Citizens’ Initiative Review" which is a reform to Oregon’s initiative process that provides voters with clear, useful, and trustworthy evaluations of statewide ballot measures through the use of a random citizen review panel.

Here is a great video that explains the new process:

The Ultimate Meeting Logistics Checklist

Meeting logistics are all the details that help a meeting go well, beyond who is invited, the agenda, facilitator and content.  A good logistics plan describes information such as:

  • room set-up, including numbers of chairs, tables, flip-charts, etc.
  • items for the registration table
  • materials for break-out groups and activities
  • audio/video system requirements
  • catering and refreshments

…and who is responsible for which items. 

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