The Technology of Participation and Transitional SocietiesAugust 30, 2022
The Technology of Participation (ToP) is an internationally-recognised collection of tools and processes for facilitation. It was developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs, a nonprofit organization focused on human development worldwide. These tools can be applied in a wide variety of settings, including education, business, government, and non-profit organizations. The Institute also offers training and certification in facilitation.
The methods used in the Technology of Participation have been co-created from the start, through action research and community development. They were designed to achieve specific goals, and they drew on existentialism and phenomenology for inspiration. The founders of the methodology included philosophers such as Kierkegaard.
The introduction of ToP methods can significantly impact the evolution of an organization. When new tools and practices are introduced, participants often want to integrate them into their work processes. This process can be challenging and involve building new organizational capacities. However, it can start a gradual change in the culture of the organization. In order for ToP groups to be effective, they need to be empowered to make decisions, make recommendations, and plan for the future of the organization.
A fundamental ToP method is the Focused Conversation Method, which originated as a format for serious conversations about art. It has evolved to be one of the most commonly used core processes in the ToP toolkit. It assists the facilitator to maintain conversational focus while staying content neutral. This method allows people to share their ideas with others and come to new levels of understanding.
Many organizations worldwide have adopted ToP methods. Several examples include 3M, Medtronic, Dell Computer, and Hennepin County. Thousands of individuals have also participated in the development of the methodology. ToP methods are equally effective in a variety of social settings. The process also trains people to be effective facilitators.
The facilitators of ToP methods may be members of the groups they lead. Their role may be in conflict if they are invested in the decisions made by the group. It is important for facilitators to be neutral in the group’s decisions. This approach is more likely to produce better results when the participants feel included in the decision-making process.
The process of facilitation is an essential part of ToP in transitional societies. This process involves facilitating people to come up with solutions to shared problems without the need for central planning or authoritarian management. It is particularly important in post-communist countries, where many people have limited experience in working together without explicit orders.