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:

Similar to citizen juries and citizen’s assemblies, panels provide an independent, informed and deliberative approach to government decision-making. I wish this project the best of luck and I hope to see more government supported citizen panels in use in the future.

New Dotmocracy Handbook is Now Published

Photo of printed Dotmocracy Handbook

I am proud to announce the publishing of a new version
of my Dotmocracy Handbook
.  After three years in the making, version
2 is more than twice the length of my original handbook. It’s filled
with full colour photos, improved layout and much clearer and refined
instructions based on years of challenging and inspiring Dotmocracy
facilitation experience.

With this version you can also order a
printed copy in Black & White or Full Colour through  
As always, you can still download a free
PDF of the handbook, although the resolution of the photos is not as
good, and you’ll be missing out on the cool new glossy cover.

exciting, it is also now for sale on!


Thank you to
my many friends and family who supported me in getting this book
finished – I am eternally grateful. 


Please do download a
copy of the handbook
 and let me know what you think.  





Started a New Job with the City of Toronto

Strarting in February I am now one of a handful of Senior Public Consultation Coordinators with the City of Toronto.  You can see a list of the typical projects we help manage here:  Its a challenging and rewarding job that allows my to apply my experience and skills in stakeholder engagement on a daily basis.  Hopefully I have opporunities to user Dotmocracy as well.

First Global Democratic Deliberation in History

Earth from spaceOn September 26, 2009 approximately 4,000 citizens in 38
countries discussed and recognized their collective opinions on the issue of
climate change.  The format was an incredible
example of best practices in public participation, that included:

  1. Random and representative participant selection
  2. Objective primer booklets (PDF) provided ahead of time
  3. Engaging information videos
  4. Expert panels discussions
  5. Extensive day long small group deliberation
  6. Informed participant opinion polling
  7. Collaborative authoring of suggestions
  8. Immediate publishing of results in an accessible
  9. Aiming to have real impact

The “World Wide Views on Global Warming” project was organized
by the highly respected and independent Danish Board of Technology (known for
pioneering the consensus conference and citizen panel formats) and their carefully
selected partners from each country. The event invited 100 random citizens from
each participating country to learn about the topic of climate change, spend a
day discussing the issues in small groups, answer a set of 12 multiple-choice questions
and to give recommendations in their own words. 
All the data was then compiled, made available on line and will be
presented as policy report to delegates at the UN Climate Change
negotiations (COP15) in Copenhagen December 7 – 18, 2009. 

Overall I am very impressed with the approach used and I
hope this project will be the first of many to come.   I can imagine WWViews will be considered an
import milestone in the practice of deliberative democracy and will be studied
and referenced for years to come.

The question is: will it have any impact? One thing is for
certain, the delegates will at least know about it, since Connie Hedegaard, the
Danish Minister of Climate and Energy, is both the formal Ambassador for
WWViews and the host of the U.N. COP15 negotiations. The efforts of the
National Partners and a media campaign will also try to give weight to the
results, but with so many interest groups competing to sway the opinions of politicians,
I am doubtful this incredible demonstration of how politics should be done will
be given much attention.

Learn more about the project on the website

Access the library of photos, videos and materials from all the meetings

See the results and details from the Canadian National


10 Question to Ask Before Starting a Public Consultation

Recently Joseph Peters (Partner at Ascentum)
and Joe Goldman (Vice President of Citizen Engagement at AmericaSpeaks)
published an excellent two page article called: Open Policy Making 101: 10 Questions
To Ask Before Launching Your Online Public Consultation

While their well thought out list is focused on online
consultation, the questions also apply to creating plans for effective offline
public consultations.

Here are their 10 questions:

  1. What
    do you want to know?
  2. What
    is your commitment to participants?
  3. Who
    needs to participate?
  4. How
    hot is the issue?
  5. What
    type of contribution are you looking for?
  6. What
    type of data will you collect and analyze?
  7. What
    are your timelines?
  8. What
    resources are available to support the process?
  9. How
    can participants stay involved?
  10. Which
    online tools should you use?

Read the full article for concise
explanations of each question.

Action Implementation Plan – a two page template

This is a simple one page (two-sided) form to help small groups to document a plan to get something done.

Sections included in the form are:

  • Name for the plan
  • Desired results to be achieved and strategies to
    be used
  • Key strengths, challenges, opportunities and
    threats (aka a SWOT analysis)
  • Contact information for team members
  • Timeline of important tasks and major milestones

This simple template can help focus ad-hoc teams and give concrete outcomes to open space conferences. I hope you find it useful!

Download the Action Implementation Plan form PDF_v1 (PDF)

Dotmocracy at BikeCamp

BikeCamp Toronto logoThis Saturday, October 17th, I will be assisting renowned facilitator Daniel Rose from Omakase Group to apply Dotmocracy at the first Toronto BikeCamp hosted by the Toronto Cyclists Union. This one day event is a series of simultaneous participant led/generated workshops – all
related to various aspects of cycling, and the politics of cycling
advocacy in Toronto. Following two Open Space sessions Dotmocracy will be used to collaboratively recognize which actions the union wishes to to take. Time will then be provided for breakout groups to plan next steps for each action. I anticipate this to be a very fun and prodoctive event.

Consensus Decision-Making Workshop Matierials

On September 29th 2009, my self and Simone Arsenault-May presented an evening workshop for parents at the Grove Community School, a new alternative school part of the Toronto District School Board.

This workshop focused on teaching the basics of a consensus process that uses cooperative dialogue. It also covered techniques for an efficient council and tools for effective community engagement.


Attachment Size
Consensus Decision-Making Workshop Handout v3.pdf 114.14 KB

Consensus Document at Canadian Conference for Dialogue and Deliberation

This October 22-25 C2D2 and Toronto Community Housing will be co-hosting the third bi-annual Canadian Conference for Dialogue and Deliberation. As part of the program, I will be conducting a process to develop a Consensus Document, asking participants “How do we use dialogue and deliberation to make stronger communities and healthier democracies?”  We will collectively author an answer to this question using a Dotmocracy wall and through a workshop. Learn more about the Consensus Document project and register today for this important conference.