The Guide to Effective Participation

| Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
Pages prepared by David Wilcox August 19 1996.
This is the contents and main section of the Guide with references on to the A-Z of Effective Participation. Back to the Communities Online Forum.

The Guide

Foreword and Introduction
A guided tour
10 key ideas about participation
Easy answers
`What we need is a public meeting'
`A good leaflet, video and exhibition will get the message across'
`Commission a survey'
`Appoint a liaison officer'
`Work through the voluntary sector'
`Set up a consultative committee'
`There's no time to do proper consultation'
`Run a Planning for Real session'
`It's technical - requiring a professional solution'
`Bring in consultants expert in community participation'
A framework for participation
Three dimensions of the framework
The nature of effective participation
Where do you stand?
Choosing a level - taking a stance
Stance 1: Information
Stance 2: Consultation
Stance 3: Deciding together
Stance 4: Acting together
Stance 5: Supporting local initiatives
It takes time
Signposts from theory to practice
The nature of signposting
The starting point - problems
The end point - participation methods
The bridge - key issues
A community participation questions set
How to..
...clarify why you want to involve others
...understand your role
...decide where you stand
...prepare for participation
...choose participation methods
...develop support within your organisation
... and develop your skills as an enabler
...choose an appropriate structure
Useful publications
Useful organisations
Top of Contents


Over the past ten years there has been a growing tendency to attempt to get the community either individually or collectively to become involved in the delivery of services at a local level.

The citizens charter, community care, the Housing Acts and City Challenge all offer the community an opportunity to play a role as either partners, providers or consumers. However, it is seductively easy to rush into participation that can be fraught with dangers.

Before getting involved both the service providers and the community would do well to pause for thought. What level of participation do we want? What are the pitfalls? What is the best way of going about it? These are all questions that the community and the service providers (statutory as well as voluntary) should seek to answer before embarking on a participatory journey.

Too often in the past the road to participation has been paved with good intentions only to lead up time consuming and wasteful dead-ends which result in disillusionment and resentment for all concerned.

Participation, like democracy, has meant many things to many people. The opportunities for participation are there to be grasped but only if all those involved have a common understanding and share a common language.

This guide provides both a theoretical framework for common understanding and a dictionary to facilitate the dialogue that can lead to successful participation. The guide also provides practical advice on tools and techniques that can be used to identify blocks and find solutions.

Reflecting on my own experience of working as a local authority community worker, a consultant and now in a new university I can readily see how the guide could be useful in a variety of ways and settings.

For instance, in teaching the guide could provide a starting point to examine the whole concept of participation and the potential pitfalls. In a consultancy/training role the guide could be used to assist the client establish where they are on the `map' of participation and also where they consider the other players to be. This analysis should provide the basis for more reasoned actions.

For the local authority officer the guide provides a comprehensive description of the implications of participation at whatever level. This can be immensely useful when convincing sceptical managers and councillors that consultation is more than just talking to people.

One of the most common arguments against community participation is that it is costly and time consuming. However, no-one has yet attempted to calculate the costs in terms of time and lost good will of getting it wrong.

TQM (Total Quality Management) is based on the simple notion that it is more cost effective to get it right first time than correct mistakes later. This guide provides some guidelines for TQM in participation.

The toolkit part of the pack provides a range of techniques and tools from which organisations and individuals can select. The tools assist in identifying blockages and suggest ways forward.

Careful selection and application of the most appropriate tool is an essential part of any job, but organisations using a tool for the first time may need to seek advice. The guide provides some signposts to further information about the tools and their use.

The relationship between providers and customers in the public social services is becoming an increasingly important one. Government is pressing the case for participation and partnership in urban regeneration. This book provides a guide to understanding and developing that relationship.

Brian Batson

Management in the Voluntary Sector Unit

Leeds Metropolitan University
Top of page


This guide is intended for the growing number of people who say `I believe in the idea of community participation - but how do you do it?' Practitioners who are asking, for example: The idea and funding for the guide came from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who promote and fund a wide range of research and development projects that pose these types of problems.

The original aim was to provide a quick overview of participation and then signpost readers to techniques.

However, it rapidly became clear that while there is plenty of theory about participation, there aren't many cookbooks easily available. In order to write the guide it was necessary to build a theoretical framework - a signposting system - and then summarise key topics and techniques in an A-Z of effective participation.

A health warning

Although this guide draws on a wide range of expertise, and drafts have been read by experienced practitioners, it hasn't been tested as a whole in the field. All the techniques are drawn from practice, but some come from Operational Research, some from community development, some from commercial consultancy and training. It is a mixed menu. I hope readers will let me know what works well, and what needs improvement, so that I can develop an improved later edition. See the inside front cover for details on how to comment.

I hope it is also clear from the text that techniques - however useful - are no substitue for the longer-term programmes of training and support likely to be needed when local groups take on major projects.

The quotations

I have sprinkled quotations through the guide to show that few ideas are new, and they have often been expressed rather better elsewhere. I am conscious that most are from dead white men, who are strongly represented in the handy directories from which they were drawn. I hope readers can offer some more contemporary gems.

Who are you?

The guide is aimed mainly at people who have the task of starting and managing participation processes, or who control funds and other resources.

Who am I?

I started my working life as a journalist, mainly writing about planning, housing, transport and development in London. For the past 15 years I have specialised in consultancy and training for groups setting up partnership organisations like development trusts, and in designing national programmes to support them. The guide reflects this background and approach rather than, for example, social or health care.

Use of material

The guide is intended to be a resource which groups and organisations can develop for their own purposes, and you are free to copy and use material in the guide for internal training. I would be interested in any examples of this use, together with comments and additions for a later edition.

If you would like to use the material more extensively, please contact me at the address on the inside cover.

David Wilcox
March 1994
Top of page

A guided tour

The front of the guide is a mixture of theory and practice which signposts readers to topics and methods for participation in the A-Z at the back. It doesn't read like a step-by-step manual or cookbook for several reasons:


The main theoretical ideas are summarised under 10 key issues of participation. For example: This theory is developed in more detail in later sections:

A Framework for participation brings together the ideas about levels, phases and stakeholders.

Where do you stand? develops each of the levels in more detail, with guidelines on when each may be most appropriate, and the methods you might use.

It takes time explores the phases of the process from initiation through to continuation, and places strong emphasis on the need for preparation before you start participation proper.

Signposts from theory to practice identifies some common issues and questions which keep cropping up in participation processes, and uses them to provide some signposts to topics and techniques in the A-Z section. Signposts is the most complex of the sections, and is included so that you see the ideas which underlie the other sections.


The first practical section - Easy Answers - comes directly after the Key Issues to provide some light relief and a flavour of the difficulties that off-the-shelf recipes can produce. Later there are two sections which offer practical suggestions:

Guidelines on how to... provides some overall guidelines for participation, then deals with the main tasks in the participation process from the point of view of someone planning and managing the

The A-Z

The A-Z section is a mix of topics and methods which aims to provide a pool of ideas and practical advice to supply more detail for the theory and practice sections.

Using the guide

The guide is not designed to be read through from front to back - you should be able to dip in to it and find cross-references to other sections which will lead you to areas of interest. There is deliberately quite a lot of repetition to allow for this. However, I suggest: The menu bar below - which appears throughout the Guide - should help with navigation.
Top of page

Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |


This guide is a compilation of other people's ideas, brought together during development of the guide, and from work on consultancy projects over the past 15 years.

The suggestion for the guide, came from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, where Dr Janet Lewis and John Low have provided continuing support and encouragement.

After seminars with practitioners, an editorial group of Ann Holmes, Joan Kean, Charles Ritchie and Jerry Smith worked with me to create the main theoretical framework for the guide. They have provided continuing inspiration and direction.

Charles Ritchie and Joan Kean also provided some of the techniques, and thinking on how these could be signposted. Brian Batson provided additional techniques and comments, and Christine Flecknoe several of the topics. Annie Rosewarne, Steve Skinner, Steve Trivett, and Sarah del Tufo made helpful comments on drafts. Brian Sayer gave early advice on the overall structure and editorial approach.

A seminar of practitioners organised by Jeff Bishop and Geoff Caplan in Glasgow in 1993 provided valuable material for the sections on participation processes.

My clients over the years have also helped develop this guide. In particular, the ideas on levels of participation, and the techniques relevant to them, were developed with Les Robinson and and Diane Warburton for St Helen's borough council ten years ago.

Apologies to anyone whose assistance I have not acknowledged. Any errors are mine.

© David Wilcox. However, material from this guide may be quoted in other publications or used, with attribution, for training purposes. I plan to develop a later edition and would be glad to receive comments, contributions, and ideas for further development of the material.

David Wilcox
13 Pelham Square
Brighton BN1 4ET, UK
Telephone +44 (0)1273 677377
Fax +44 (0)1273 677377273 677379
Published by Partnership Books.
ISBN 1-870298-00-4

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has supported this project as part of its programme of research and innovative development projects, which it hopes will be of value to policy makers and practitioners. The facts presented and views expressed in this report, however, are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

10 key ideas about participation

Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
Behind the detailed suggestions in the guide about how to manage participation effectively are 10 key ideas. Each of these is also dealt with in the A-Z and in other sections.

Level of participation

Sherry Arnstein, writing in 1969 about citizen involvement in planning processes in the United States, described a ladder of participation with eight steps. I have altered this model to five stances:
I do not suggest any one stance is better than any other - it is rather a matter of `horses for courses'. Different levels are appropriate at different times to meet the expectations of different interests.

Here's the original Arnstein model.

on to the five stance model

1 Manipulation and 2 Therapy. Both are non participative. The aim is to cure or educate the participants. The proposed plan is best and the job of participation is to achieve public support by public relations.

3 Informing. A most important first step to legitimate participation. But too frequently the emphasis is on a one way flow of information. No channel for feedback.

4 Consultation. Again a legitimate step - attitude surveys, neighbourhood meetings and public enquiries. But Arnstein still feels this is just a window dressing ritual.

5 Placation. For example, co-option of hand-picked 'worthies' onto committees. It allows citizens to advise or plan ad infinitum but retains for power holders the right to judge the legitimacy or feasibility of the advice.

6 Partnership. Power is in fact redistributed through negotiation between citizens and power holders. Planning and decision-making responsibilities are shared e.g. through joint committees.

7 Delegated power. Citizens holding a clear majority of seats on committees with delegated powers to make decisions. Public now has the power to assure accountability of the programme to them.

8 Citizen Control. Have-nots handle the entire job of planning, policy making and managing a programme e.g. neighbourhood corporation with no intermediaries between it and the source of funds.

Initiation and process

This guide deals with situations where someone, or some organisation, seeks to involve others at some level - that is, participation doesn't just happen, it is initiated. Someone (termed here a practitioner) then manages a process over time, and allows others involved more or less control over what happens. In the guide the process is described during four phases: Initiation - Preparation - Participation - Continuation.


The initiator is in a strong position to decide how much or how little control to allow to others - for example, just information, or a major say in what is to happen. This decision is equivalent to taking a stand on the ladder - or adopted a stance about the level of participation.

Power and purpose

Understanding participation involves understanding power: the ability of the different interests to achieve what they want. Power will depend on who has information and money. It will also depend on people's confidence and skills. Many organisations are unwilling to allow people to participate because they fear loss of control: they believe there is only so much power to go around, and giving some to others means losing your own.

However, there are many situations when working together allows everyone to achieve more than they could on their own. These represent the benefits of participation.

Role of the practitioner

This guide is written mainly for people who are planning or managing participation processes - here termed `practitioners'. Because these practitioners control much of what happens it is important they constantly think about the part they are playing.

Stakeholders and community

I think that `stakeholders' is one piece of jargon which really helps our understanding of participation. On the other hand `community' can be a hindrance.

A stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in what happens. The term forces us to think about who will be affected by any project, who controls the information, skills and money needed, who may help and who may hinder. It does not follow that everyone affected has an equal say; the idea of the ladder is to prompt thinking about who has most influence.

Community is a problem term if it is used as a blanket description for `all those other people'. There are many communities, defined by, for example, people's shared interests, locality, age or gender. The `community' which participates will depend on the project or programme because different people are interested in different issues. Where community is used in the guide it is shorthand for communities.


Partnership, like community, is a much abused term. I think it is useful when a number of different interests willingly come together formally or informally to achieve some common purpose. The partners don't have to be equal in skills, funds or even confidence, but they do have to trust each other and share some commitment. In participation processes - as in our personal and social lives - building trust and commitment takes time.


Commitment is the other side of apathy: people are committed when they want to achieve something, apathetic when they don't. But what leads to commitment? Not, in my experience, telling people `you ought to care', inviting them to public meetings or bombarding them with glossy leaflets. I think people care about what they are interested in, and become committed when they feel they can achieve something. Hard selling won't achieve that. If people are apathetic about your proposals, it may simply be that they don't share your interests or concerns.

Ownership of ideas

People are most likely to be committed to carry something through if they have a stake in the idea. One of the biggest barriers to action is `not invented here'. The antidote is to allow people to say `we thought of that'. In practice that means running brainstorming workshops, helping people think through the practicality of ideas, and negotiating with others a result which is acceptable to as many people as possible.

Clearly this isn't possible if you are simply providing people with information about your own ideas, or consulting them on a limited number of ideas of your own. Apathy is directly proportional to the stake people have in ideas and outcomes.

Confidence and capacity

Ideas and wish lists are little use if they cannot be put into practice. The ability to do that depends as much on people's confidence and skills as it does on money. Many participation processes involve breaking new ground - tackling difficult projects and setting up new forms of organisations.

It is unrealistic to expect individuals or small groups suddenly to develop the capability to make complex decisions and become involved in major projects. They need training - or better still the opportunity to learn formally and informally, to develop confidence, and trust in each other.

Each or these terms is dealt with in more detail in the A-Z of effective participation.

The next sections

Each or the terms above is dealt with in more detail in the A-Z section, and you may wish to skip the following sections and browse the A-Z, then return to some of the theory.

The first theoretical section, A framework for participation, takes the revised ladder of participation, and extends it across time - the process - and across interests - the stakeholders.

Top of Key ideas

Easy answers

Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
Faced with ideas like levels of participation, different phases and roles you may be tempted by some quick fixes for your participation problems. These can bring their own difficulties. For example:

`What we need is a public meeting'

You will certainly need to meet the public, but the conventional set-up with a fixed agenda, platform and rows of chairs is a stage set for conflict. Among the problems are: As an alternative: See Access, Public meetingsWorkshopsin the A-Z
Top of Easy answers

`A good leaflet, video and exhibition will get the message across'

These may well be useful tools, but it is easy to be beguiled by the products and forget what you are trying to achieve.

Before you brief the production team first consider: See Communications, Where do you stand?, Videos
Top of Easy answers

`Commission a survey'

A questionnaire study and/or in-depth discussion groups can be an excellent ways to start a participation process. On the other hand they can be a magnificent way of avoiding the issue of what you want by asking other people what they want. Fine, if you are then able to deliver.

Bear in mind:
See Surveys.
Top of Easy answers

`Appoint a liaison officer'

That may be a useful step, but not if everyone else thinks it is the end of their involvement in the process. Are you just trying to pass the buck to someone else ?

Aim to empower your liaison officer. Consider: See It takes time.
Top of Easy answers

`Work through the voluntary sector'

Voluntary bodies are a major route to communities of interest, and may have people and resources to contribute to the participation process. However, they are not `the community'. Treat voluntary organisations as another sectoral interest in the community - albeit a particularly important one: See Community, Stakeholders, Voluntary sector.
Top of Easy answers

`Set up a consultative committee'

Some focus for decision-making will be necessary in anything beyond simple consultation processes. However: Consider instead: See Committees, Workshops.
Top of Easy answers

`There's no time to do proper consultation'

That may be the case if the timetable is imposed externally - or do you feel that consultation will raise questions you can't answer? Beware: the questions won't go away, and you could be forced into a climb-down later on in the face of protest.

If the timetable is genuinely tight: See It takes time, Timeline.
Top of Easy answers

`Run a Planning for Real session'

Special `packaged' techniques can be very powerful ways of getting people involved. However there are horses for courses - no one technique is applicable to all situations. Are you just falling into the technology trap - believing that a gadget will fix the problem? This guide aims to suggest what is appropriate when.

See Planning for Real.
Top of Easy answers

`It's technical - requiring a professional solution'

If you believe that, why consult anyone? Before following this arrogant course, reflect on the many examples of disaster and political miscalculation where the experts knew best.

Before leaving it to the experts consider: See Problem clarification, Decision-making.
Top of Easy answers

`Bring in consultants expert in community participation'

There's some truth in the saying that `consultants are people who steal your watch in order to tell you the time'. Often you have the answer yourself, and you are just trying to avoid grappling with the issue. Of course there are situations when you need outside expertise - whether technical, or in clearing your own mind or facilitating the participation process.

If you do use consultants: See Consultants.
Top of Easy answers

A framework for participation

Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
This section summarises a theoretical framework for thinking about participation which brings together ideas from the 10 Key Issues section. The summary below covers the main ideas: These ideas are then developed in more detail in following sections:

Summary of the framework

The framework is developed from the idea of a ladder of participation discussed in the 10 Key Issues section. The framework adds two other dimensions to the idea of the level of participation on a ladder:

1 The level of participation - where do you stand?

See the set of questions at the end of this section about who `you' are and what you are trying to achieve.

The ladder of participation model described in the previous section suggests some levels are better than others. In this framework I suggest it is more of a case of horses for courses - different levels
are appropriate in different circumstances.

The key issue is what `stance' are you taking as someone managing a participation process, or controlling resources, and your reasons for doing so.

I suggest thinking of five levels - or stances - which offer increasing degrees of control to the others involved.
The least you can do is tell people what is planned.

You offer a number of options and listen to the feedback you get.

Deciding together
You encourage others to provide some additional ideas and options, and join in deciding the best way forward.

Acting together
Not only do different interests decide together what is best, but they form a partnership to carry it out.

Supporting independent community initiatives
You help others do what they want - perhaps within a framework of grants, advice and support provided by the resource holder.
The 'lower' level of participation keep control with the initiator - but they lead to less commitment from others.

Compare this diagram with Sherry Arnstein's ladder in 10 Key Issues

Each of these levels is discussed in more detail in the next main section: Where do you stand?
Back to the start of the summary

2 The phase - where have you got to?

Participation is a process in which people have to think through what they want, consider some options, and work through what should happen. I suggest there are four main phases:


The phase at which something triggers the need to involve people, and you start to think what that involves.


The period when you think through the process, make the first contacts, and agree an approach.


The phase in which you use participation methods with the main interests in the community.


What happens in this phase will depend very much on the level of participation - you may be reporting back on consultation, or at another level setting up partnership organisations.

These different phases are discussed in more detail in the section It takes time
Back to start of the summary

3 People - who is involved?

Some people will want - or demand - more involvement than others. Others will wish not to be involved. Identifying these different interests - stakeholders - and negotiating the level of participation appropriate is the third dimension of the framework

Some of the main issues in participation are about where power and control lies between these interests, and the role of `you' in this.

Before starting a participation process it is important to reflect on the role you have - the hat you are wearing. The way you act may be influenced by how far you control resources, to whom you are answerable. People's attitudes to you will certainly be influenced by the role and power they think you have.

It is also essential to clarify the purpose of participation - because that will determine which stakeholders benefit.

These issues are discussed in the items on Beneficiaries, Power and Empowerment.

Back to start of the summary

The nature of effective participation

I think participation may work best for all concerned when each of the key interests - the stakeholders - is satisfied with the level of participation at which they are involved.

That is, those who don't have much at stake may be happy to be informed or consulted. Others will want to be involved in decisions and possibly action to carry them out.

The difficult task for the practitioner managing the process is to identify these interests, help them work out what they want from the process, and negotiate a route for them to achieve it.

The power of the practitioner lies in influencing who will benefit. Participation is not a neutal process. As yourself:

With different interests seeking different levels of participation, and being in different phases, effective participation can seem like shooting an arrow through a number of keyholes.

Back to start of the summary

Some early questions

At the start of a participation process a number of key questions should help you decide your approach:

Who are you? For example:

Someone in a position of power controlling funds or other resources.
Someone with influence because you are planning or managing a participation process.
Someone with professional expertise or knowledge?

What do you want to achieve by working a participatory style? Who will have the final say over decisions? How ready are people, and organisations, to work in a participatory way? Back to start of the summary

Where do you stand?

Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
One of the main ideas in the Guide is that of level of participation, and the an organisation promoting participation takes a stance about the level it suggests is appropriate for different interests. This section deals with five levels.
  1. Information
  2. Consultation
  3. Deciding together
  4. Acting together
  5. Supporting local initiatives

Choosing a level - taking a stance

The previous section developed the idea of levels of participation based on Arnstein's ladder described in 10 Key ideas. Here each level is dealt with in more detail, with suggestions on where it is appropriate.

This section, as others, is written on the assumption that you are promoting or managing a participation process. Your precise role will affect what stance you take.

For example, if you are controlling resources you may be very clear and firm about how much say you are prepared to offer others. If you are acting as a neutral facilitator you may be helping different interests negotiate appropriate levels.

For further discussion of these issues, see Some early questions at the end of the previous section, the items on Power and Role of the practitioner.

Back to the summary of A framework for participation

Stance 1: Information

Where do you stand? | Information | Consultation | Deciding | Acting | Supporting
Information-giving underpins all other levels of participation, and may be appropriate on its own in some circumstances. However, you are likely to hit problems if all you offer is information and people are expecting more involvement.


Where appropriate

Information-only may be appropriate when: Information-only is inappropriate when the following apply (alternative stances in brackets):


See the A-Z for methods to use with this and other levels. Consider the following: Avoid any methods which imply that people can have a say.


In planning how to inform people, and carrying this out:

Possible problems

You have a low budget.
Concentrate on using existing channels of communication: local groups, media, simple posters or leaflets. Be prepared to answer questions.

The PR department of your organisation wants to take over communications.
Insist on getting the basic messages clear before anything gets 'glossed up'. Work on one product - say a leaflet - and use that as the reference for other things. Make sure you have internal agreement to any messages.

You get no response from the audience you are addressing.
Since you are not asking people to become involved, that may be understandable. However, ask a few people to play back to you what they understood from your communication to see that you have got your message across.

People want more say.
Do they have a case? Who is setting the rules? Take comments seriously. It is easier to change the level of participation and your stance early on. Later it may become an uncomfortable U-turn.

Information checklist

Before taking up an information-giving stance consider:
Top of Where do you stand?

Stance 2: Consultation

Where do you stand? | Information | Consultation | Deciding | Acting | Supporting

Consultation is appropriate when you can offer people some choices on what you are going to do - but not the opportunity to develop their own ideas or participate in putting plans into action.


Where appropriate

The consultation stance is likely to be most appropriate when: It is inappropriate when the following apply (alternative stances in brackets):


Consider the following methods for consultation, detailed in the A-Z: These methods may be used in conjunction with information-giving and presentational techniques, for example:


Possible problems

You have a low budget.
Use basic information-giving methods plus meetings hosted by local organisations. Run an open meeting at the end of the process.

The PR department wants to take it over.
See information giving. Consider throughout: will people understand the options, are they realistic, can we respond to feedback.

You don't have time to do things properly.
Be honest about the deadlines, and use the time-pressure to advantage.

You get more - or less - response than expected.
Was consultation the appropriate stance? Did you think it through from the audience's point of view?

Consultation checklist

Before taking up a consultation stance consider:
Top of Where do you stand?

Stance 3: Deciding together

Where do you stand? | Information | Consultation | Deciding | Acting | Supporting
Deciding together is a difficult stance because it can mean giving people the power to choose without fully sharing the responsibility for carrying decisions through.


Where appropriate

Deciding-together may be appropriate when: Deciding together is inappropriate when the following apply (try alternative stances in brackets).


Consider the following methods from the A-Z:


Possible problems

You don't have the time.
Consider whether stance 2 - consulting people - would be more appropriate.

You are not sure if your colleagues will back up any decisions.
Involve them in the process. Run internal workshops before involving others.

People aren't interested in joining in.
Spend more time on preliminary networking - basically talking to people before holding any meetings. Run sessions hosted by existing organisations as well as open sessions.

The techniques look too complicated.
Try some of the easier ones with a small group that you know. Bring in an external trainer or facilitator.


Before taking up a deciding-together stance consider:
Top of Where do you stand?

Stance 4: Acting together

Where do you stand? | Information | Consultation | Deciding | Acting | Supporting
Acting together may involve short-term collaboration or forming more permanent partnerships with other interests.


Where appropriate

Acting together may be appropriate when: Acting together is not likely to be appropriate when the following apply (alternative stances in brackets):


Consider the following methods from the A-Z:


As for Deciding together, plus...

Possible problems

Early discussion focuses on constitutions.
The final structure should come last - after you have decided what you are going to do, how to get the resources, what skills you need, and how power and responsibility will be shared. Set up interim structures like a steering group with clear terms of reference.

Conflicts arise in steering group meetings.
Spend more time in workshop sessions and informal meetings to develop a shared vision and mutual understanding.

Some interests feel excluded.
Clarify who the stakeholders are, and what their legitimate interests are. Again, run workshops rather than committees. Use an independent facilitator.


Before taking up a 'acting together ' stance consider:
Top of Where do you stand?

Stance 5: Supporting local initiatives

Where do you stand? | Information | Consultation | Deciding | Acting | Supporting
Supporting independent community-based initiatives means helping others develop and carry out their own plans. Resource-holders who promote this stance may, of course, put limits on what they will support.


Where appropriate

This stance may be appropriate: It is not likely to be appropriate when the following apply (alternative stances in brackets):


Consider the following methods from the A-Z:


Possible problems

Community interests find it difficult to get organised.
Provide support and, if necessary training. Arrange visits to similar projects elsewhere. Treat people development as seriously as project development.

The steering group or other body cannot make decisions.
Organise workshop sessions outside formal committees.

Little happens between meetings.
End each meeting with an action planning session. If funds are available appoint a development worker. Keep in contact through a regularly produced newsletter.

Community interests become committed to action, but resource-holders can't deliver.
Run internal sessions to gain commitment within the supporting organisations. Use the media.


Before taking up a 'we will support community initiatives' stance consider:
Top of Where do you stand?

| Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |

It takes time

Often participation is treated as a limited set of events - a survey, an exhibition, one or two meetings. However, if participation is to be more than superficial consultation it must be treated as a process which takes some time. This section deals with the main phases of participation, and stresses that success depends on careful preparation.

The participation process

The Framework section suggested treating participation as a process which has four main phases: (Thanks to Allen Hickling for suggesting these phases during a workshop in Glasgow in1993).

Of course, in reality life is never that tidy, and we find that we are pitched into trying to do things without enough planning.

Often it is difficult to see what to do before trying something out, and reflecting on what happened. It may only be then that we find out what the real problem is.

This cycle goes on throughout any process to carry out a project or programme. Participation is no different.

Because participation doesn't run on predetermined tracks it isn't possible to set out a step by step guide - every situation will be different. However there are some key issues which keep cropping up, and some are more important in particular phases. The questions and checklists in this section all relate back to the main question set in the Signposts from theory to practice section.


| It takes time | Initiation | Preparation | Participation | Continuation |
The process of participation may be triggered in many ways: Often situations will be messy and unclear, with different people and groups having different views of what is going on. In order to move into a planned process of participation, it is important to start asking some key questions. These will recur in different forms throughout.

An outline agenda

  1. Who is going to champion the process?
  2. Who pays? Who administers? Who convenes ?
  3. What are you trying to achieve through participation?
  4. Who are the key interests in the community?
  5. Who are the key interests within any organisation promoting participation, and what are their attitudes?
  6. What level of participation is likely to be appropriate and acceptable?
  7. How will you know when you have succeeded?
For guidance see the section Guidelines on How to.., and A-Z entries on Aims and objectives, Confidence, Levels of participation, Stakeholders, SWOT.
Top of It takes time


| It takes time | Initiation | Preparation | Participation | Continuation |
As these key issues become clearer, it is important to prepare on three fronts: Most experienced facilitators and trainers agree that 80% of successful participation lies in preparation - so don't skimp on it .

Spadework with the promoter

In my experience the toughest problems in participation processes do not stem from apathy, ignorance or lack of skills among residents or other community interests. Given time and effort these can be worked through.

The most intractable problems arise because organisations promoting participation aren't clear about what they want to achieve, are fearful of sharing control, and seldom speak with one voice.

Unless these issues are tackled at the outset they are likely to lead to frustration, conflict and disillusion further down the line.

The key issue is, what does the promoting organisation want from the participation process? The most common goals are: In preparing a participation process it is important to consider the mix of these desired goals, and whether they are they realistic. In particular, is there the internal commitment within the organisation to bring them about? A group of experienced practitioners who discussed these issues at the Gorbals workshop in November 1993, developed the following checklist.

The internal agenda

If you are acting as the manager of the participation process it is important that the internal `client' understands, agrees and values your role.

In order to achieve this understanding it is a good idea to apply participation techniques to the internal process with the client After this experience they are more likely to understand the techniques you use and support you when you apply them externally.

Understanding key interests

Before starting the formal processes of producing leaflets, calling meetings or running workshops it is important to understand who's who and what outcomes they may be looking for. Here's a checklist of some of the early tasks and issues:

Agreeing the approach - a strategy

After discussions with the internal client and external interests, you should be able to develop a strategy for the participation process. The precise nature of the strategy will, of course, depend upon circumstances and the level of participation sought with different interests. These issues are dealt with in more detail in the `How to...' section. Here are some of the main points to cover:

Strategy checklist

As far as possible gain agreement of all parties to the following: Some of these issues may have to evolve with the process: it may not be possible to agree everything at the start. If it seems worth the risk, you may just have to get some action off the ground and work out the details as you go along. You should also: See also items in the A-Z on Action plans, Budgets for participation, Communication, Workshops.
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| It takes time | Initiation | Preparation | Participation | Continuation |

During this phase you will be running events, producing printed materials and using a range of methods. The Guidelines on How to... section and A-Z items provide detailed guidance.

The following are some of tips which emerged from brainstorming sessions with experienced practitioners about this phase of the process:
Top of It takes time

Continuation - keeping going

| It takes time | Initiation | Preparation | Participation | Continuation |
The final phase in a participation process. By this time it should be clear how any agreed proposals are going to be taken forward. How this is done will depend very much on the level of participation.

At one level - of consultation - you may have worked through some prepared options with different interests and then agreed to take the results away for evaluation and implementation.

At another level - working together - you may be setting up new partnership organisations.


Top of It takes time


Groups and organisations, like relationships, go through recognisable stages. The early stages have been described as: All of this is difficult enough in a group which meets frequently, or in a formal organisation. It should be no surprise that it is even more complex in a participation process when so many different interests have to find a common vision. Don't be discouraged!

Top of It takes time

Signposts from theory to practice

Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
This section sets out how I have designed some of the signposting in this Guide - the cross-references from problems to participation techniques. It is rather theoretical, and if you wish you can skip it and move to the next sections.

The nature of signposting

The original idea of this guide was to help practitioners who subscribe to the `why' of participation find their way to the `how'. In practice signposting is complex for several reasons:
For these reasons, this section - and the complementary `Guidelines on How to.. section - cannot provide a step by step manual. Instead I have tried to offer a number of ways of looking at the route from participation problems to solutions, with some pointers to topics and methods which are detailed in the A-Z section.

The starting point - problems

Whatever level of participation you are offering, and whatever phase you are in, there will be problems. So what do you do when the going gets tough? Reach for a solution - a participation tool or method. You may go and talk to people, produce another piece of paper, run a workshop, set up a committee, or perhaps give someone else the job. The later section on Problems suggests which methods may be most appropriate in common situations. But what do we mean by participation methods?

The end point - participation methods

The methods for participation included in the guide fall broadly under three headings - techniques, structures and longer-term programmes.


Techniques are frequently used short-term interventions employed by consultants and trainers. They range from communication materials and simple workshop sessions through to more complex methods of decision-making, like Strategic Choice. They can be very useful ways of concentrating efforts to involve people, but should not be seen as 'quick fixes'. Participation takes time, and techniques will usually need to be part of a long-term programme, or related to a structure - see below.


Both interim and longer-term organisational structures are used in participation processes. They range from working parties and advisory committees to organisations like development trusts, and community-based coops. Local councils and similar organisations often favour structures because they mirror or can be linked to their committee systems and the procedures which go with them. They can stand in the way of real participation for those involved unless their purpose is clear, the balance of control or influence is agreed, and their proceedings are enlivened by workshop techniques.

Longer-term programmes

These are processes for participation, planned over a period of time, which may involve staff devoted partly or wholly to the programme as well as the use of techniques and structures.

The bridge - key issues

The problems in participation processes seem to relate to about 15 underlying issues. If can spot the issue, by asking the right questions, you may be able to find a participation method to use. I have listed what I think are the key issues below, with some signposts to methods.

1 Taking stock: Situation assessment See CATWOE, Community profiling, Stakeholders, Surveys, SWOT in the A-Z

2 Taking stock: Self assessment See Capacity-building, Skills audit, SWOT in the A-Z

3 Clarifying purpose, values and vision See Aims and objectives, Mission, Nominal Group Technique, Outcomes, Purpose, Vision in the A-Z

4 Roles See Accountability, Recruitment, Roles in the A-Z

5 Increasing commitment
See Apathy, Commitment, Ownership in the A-Z

6 Communication Are we talking the same language? See Communication, Meetings, Presentations n the A-Z

7 Developing criteria See Criteria, Evaluation, Values in the A-Z

8 Negotiation See Negotiation, Outcomes in the A-Z

9 Getting resources See Fundraising, Resources in the A-Z

10 Developing skills/capacities See Capacity-building, Skills audit in the A-Z

11 Generating options See Brainstorming, Creative thinking, Ideas, Options, Nominal Group Technique in the A-Z

12 Making decisions See Action plans, Cost/Benefit Analysis, Strategic choice in the A-Z

13 Developing structure See Business planning, Competence, Constitutions, Structures in the A-Z

14 Managing structure
See Competence, Governance, Management in the A-Z

15 Evaluating progress See Criteria, Evaluation in the A-Z

A community participation questions set

| Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
To ensure a broad. coherent approach to community participation, consider the following:

1 Commitment

Has the nature and extent of commitment to participation. amongst all those involved, been made clear at the outset? Have major differences been addressed?

2 Education for participation

Has some opportunity been provided to ensure some positive `induction' to the participation process for local people, professionals, elected members and others?

3 Applicability

Has it been decided whether, and in what general ways, a participative approach is applicable to all types of specific project or continuing initiative?

4 Initiation

Has something been done to ensure that the pattern and detail of participation activity is not determined totally by whoever initiates it? Is there a shared feeling of `ownership'?

5 Scope

Within a general principle of attempting to achieve the fullest possible involvement on any project, are all parties clear about, and do they accept, the level of participation on offer?

6 Delivering agreed scope

Are those in positions of power to influence the end outcome (elected members, officers, developers, funders) able to deliver the agreed level of involvement? (If it cannot be delivered, it should not be offered.)

7 All Stages

Is participation being started as early as possible in the planning and development process, and how can you make it something which should go right through from initiation to completion (and even into later community management)?

8 Defining Overall Community

Have the definitions of `area' and `overall community', used to determine who has an opportunity to be involved, been negotiated with all parties. and how will they be redefined if necessary as work proceeds?

9 Engaging Communities

Have the ground rules for how the many sub-communities within the area are defined, located and accessed been considered at the outset and agreed with all parties, and how will it be enlarged and extended as work proceeds?

10 Approach

Have those managing the involvement process, along with other parties, agreed an overall, coherent approach which ensures that all relevant issues are addressed and which considers the participation process over time?

11 Relevant Methods

Have the methods to be used been carefully chosen to relate closely to the scope of the work, the definitions of communities used, the stage of the involvement and the available skills and resources?

12 Range of methods

In general, is a range of methods to be used in order to increase the chances of engaging the largest number of people?

13 Resources

Have all resources available for the work been assessed, considered and valued - including `work equity' by community groups and others? Is there agreement about how those resources are best disposed throughout the work?

14 Management

Through what means will those managing the participation process ensure that the manner in which work is handled creates a sense of trust within the community about the fairness and neutrality of the process?

15 Resolution

Has there been consideration at an early stage of the manner in which the many views and ideas emerging from the participation process are assembled, weighted and used in relation to reaching any decisions? In particular, who will do this?

16 Going forward

Has thought been given to how practice should be evaluated in retrospect and time given, for all parties, to consider how best to take forward the lessons learned into subsequent involvement activity?

..... and finally:

17 Context

What general support is there from your organisation, is the time right to be doing this, are there any specific 'windows of opportunity' you can use to get things going? Where are the enemies and the barriers likely to come? Can you influence any of these?

This question set was supplied by consultants BDOR.


Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
It is tempting to say that every situation is so different that general guidelines on participation are misleading - but that isn't much comfort to anyone trying to work out how to start. So here are ten principles intended to get you thinking, rather than provide firm rules. Cross references are provided to other main sections and items in the A-Z, and further guidelines on the main tasks are given later. This section - as others - is written for someone managing a participation process.

1 Ask yourself what you wish to achieve from the participation process, and what you want to help others achieve. What is the purpose?

See A framework for participation, Beneficiaries, Purpose in the A-Z

2 Identify the different interests within a community that you wish to involve, and put yourself in their shoes.

See Community, Stakeholders in the A-Z

3 Clarify your own role and whether you are wearing too many hats - for example, communicator of information, facilitator of ideas, controller of resources.

See Accountability, Role of the Practitioner in the A-Z

4 Consider what balance to strike between keeping control and gaining other people's commitment, and what levels of participation this suggests for different interests.

See Where do you stand?

5 Invest as much effort in preparation as participation with outside interests.

See Preparation in It takes time

6 Run internal participation processes to make sure your own organisation is committed and can deliver.

See Preparation in It takes time

7 Be open and honest about what you are offering or seeking, and communicate in the language of those you are aiming to involve .

See Communication, Trust in the A-Z

8 Make contact informally with key interests before running any formal meetings.

See Preparation in It takes time, Networking in the A-Z

9 Build on existing organisations and networks - but don't use them as the only channel of communication and involvement.

See Networking, Voluntary sector in the A-Z

10 Consider the time and resources you will need.

See It takes time

How to..

Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |
This section takes the guidelines above and issues discussed in the more theoretical sections and suggests how to tackle the main tasks likely to crop up in a participation process. It does so by looking at the key issues from a number of angles, providing checklists, and signposting you on to more detail to other sections in the guide and items in the A-Z section. However, it should be treated as guidance only - not a step-by-step manual.

...clarify why you want to involve others

Why is it necessary to involve other people? Is it for your benefit, theirs, or both?

1 Consider what you are trying to achieve at the end of the day, and why this may be best done with others. See Benefits of participation, Barriers to participation, Outcomes.

2 List the key interests who will have to be involved, both within your organisation and without. See Stakeholder analysis.

3 After following the steps below, try out your ideas informally on a few people you know.

...understand your role

Some of the greatest problems arise because those promoting or managing participation are wearing too many different hats.

1 Consider the part you may be expected to play in a participation process: 2 If you are trying to do more than one of these, could there be conflicts? How will others see you? Can you split roles with someone else?

3 See Role of the practitioner in the A-Z and earlier sections on Where do you stand? and It takes time for more detailed descriptions of what is involved in the process.

...decide where you stand

One of the most important early decision is on the appropriate level of participation, or stance you will take.

1 Clarify why you want to involve others, and your possible role - see early steps above.

2 Read the Framework for participation section, and consider what level of participation is likely to be appropriate:

* Information: telling people what you are going to do.

* Consultation: offering people choices between options you have developed.

* Deciding together: allowing others to contribute ideas and options, and deciding together.

* Acting together: putting your choices into practice in partnership.

* Supporting independent community initiatives - helping others carry out their own plans.

3 Review who the key interests are, and what level of participation will be appropriate for each. See Stakeholders.

...prepare for participation

Experienced trainers and facilitators reckon that 80 per cent of the potential for success lies in preparing well before engaging with individuals and groups.

1 See the Preparation section in It Takes time. Work through the internal agenda within your group or organisation. For example:

* Are your colleagues agreed on what they wish to achieve, and the level of participation?

* Have you flushed out any hidden agendas?

* Will the organisation be able to deliver on any promises?

2 Make contact informally with key interests.

Review the levels of participation different interests may seek.

Consider the possible obstacles which may occur, and the support you will need.

3 Begin to develop a strategy which covers:

* The main deadlines

* Resources needed

* Technical support available

See the Signposts from theory to practice section, Budgets for participation, Timeline.

...choose participation methods

The Easy answers section outlines what can occur if you don't think through carefully what methods to use.

1 See the Signposts section for a theoretical discussion, and pointers to topics and methods featured in the A-Z.

2 In choosing a method consider:

* Is it appropriate for the level of participation? For example, powerful techniques like Planning for Real which give everyone a say are not appropriate for consultation processes where you are really only offering people limited choices.

* Do you have the necessary skills and resources? A slide show may be more effective than a video.

* Can you follow through? There is no point doing a survey unless you can handle the responses and use the information.

* Do you need help? An experienced trainer or facilitator may be necessary for some of the more complex methods.

...develop support within your organisation

Many participation processes fail because the organisations promoting the process cannot deliver when others respond.

1 See the section on Change in organisations, and It takes time. After reviewing the issues there and above (in ...prepare for participation):

2 Use internally some of the techniques you plan to use externally:

* Produce communication materials in draft.

* Run workshop sessions.

* Encourage others within the organisation to take ownership of the proposals, options or ideas and work them through informally with other interests. That is the best way to gain internal commitment or discover what problems may arise later.

See Commitment planning, Ownership.

... and develop your skills as an enabler

Although many of the techniques suggested in this guide are relatively simple, it takes some degree of confidence to run a workshop with community interests for the first time or perhaps argue through with colleagues the need for a long-term participation process. Here are a few suggestions on how to develop your confidence and capability:

* Contact anyone within your organisation, or locally, with facilitation, training or general community development experience and talk through your plans.

* Contact one of the organisations listed in this guide who offer training and support.

* Find a low-risk opportunity to try running a workshop using some of the simpler techniques.

* Or even better run a workshop jointly with an experienced practitioner - perhaps contacted through one of the organisations listed.

...choose an appropriate structure

Participation is not necessarily achieved just by setting up a forum, working group, committee, steering group or other structure. On the other hand, if you are planning or managing a participation process you will need some point of accountability, and the key interests may need to work together formally as well as creatively. In planning the process:

1 Clarify to whom you are accountable at the outset.

2 If you are working at the `acting together' level of participation help key interests form a working group or steering group when appropriate.

3 Review your role and accountability with that new group.

See items on the structures mentioned, and Accountability, Structures for participation, Terms of reference.


Participation processes do not run on rails, and they cannot be set out as a linear step-by-step process. Each of the items above may be seen as a problem which has to be tackled, but not necessarily solved at one go. Plan, act, review - or as they say in the States `do it, fix it, try it'.

Bearing that in mind here is a summary of the main tasks.

The main tasks in summary

Clarify why the participation process is being started, who has the final say, and what your brief is.

See Accountability, Aims and objectives, Mission.

2 Identify key community interests, including voluntary and community organisations.

See Community profiling, Networking, Stakeholder analysis.

3 Consider the level of participation appropriate, make informal contacts to identify local concerns, and whether your stance - the level you are adopting - is likely to be acceptable.

See Level of participation, Networking.

4 Run a workshop session(s) within your organisation to ensure key people are clear about the purpose of the participation process, the roles and responsibilities, and the answers to basic questions which will be asked when you go public.

See Barriers to participation, Changing in organisations, Workshops

5 Consider the stance (Inform, Consult etc.) you are taking in more detail, and in the light of that decide on what methods you will use.

See Levels of participation

6 Review whether your organisation will be able to respond to the feedback, and follow through on any decisions reached.

See Changing in organisations

Review your timescale, and prepare an action plan based on the level of participation. See Action planning


Contents | Key ideas | Easy | Frame | Signs | Guides | How to | Ref | A-D | E-K | L-R | S-Z |

Useful publications

Useful organisations

In researching this guide I found few publications which deal specifically with participation and partnership. Not surprisingly, books of relevant techniques are fewer still.

The references below are some of the main sources of information and inspiration I found in developing theory and finding examples of techniques. Please send me your own favourites for inclusion in a later edition of the guide.

Details of organisations mentioned can be found in the next section, including some distributors.

101 ways to generate great ideas.
Timothy R. V. Foster, Kogan Page,1991.
A consultant lists 101 ways to understand problems, generate ideas in groups, develop solutions and evaluate which to use.

Awareness through to action.
Newcastle Architecture Workshop, 1992.
A pack containing scores of techniques for achieving participation in environmental projects and the design process. Useful for work in schools, training for professionals and with community groups.

A-Z of meetings.
Sue Ward, Pluto Press, 1985.
Reflects the author's experience in the trade union movement and Labour Party, and is strong on the formalities of constitutions, rules, and standing orders.

Building effective local partnerships.
Local Government Management Board, 1993.
Guidelines based on case studies of partnerships, aimed at both local authorities and voluntary bodies with whom they may develop partnership arrangements.

Change and how to help it happen.
Community Education Training Unit, 1994.
A comprehensive and practical guide to facilitation methods for organisational change. The approach and methods can be adapted for participation processes.

Citizen action: taking action in your community.
Des Wilson with Leighton Andrews and Maurice Frankel, Longman, 1986.
The nuts and bolts of organising a local campaign.

Citizen involvement: a practical guide for change.
Peter Beresford and Suzy Croft, Macmillan, 1993.
A guide to participation and empowerment which focuses on initiatives in social work and social services. Plenty of insights from service users as well as practitioners, and guidelines for agencies.

Community enterprise from the bottom up.
Edited by Nick Love, Lincolnshire Wolds Publications, 1993.
Case studies and advice on creating local community-based enterprises.

Community involvement in City Challenge.
Richard MacFarlane, NCVO, 1993.
A good practice guide based on case studies of City Challenge projects. Provides insights into the problems of achieving participation against tight timetables and Treasury funding procedures.

Community profiling: a guide to identifying local needs.
Paul Burton, School for Advanced Urban Studies, 1993.
Provides a 10-step practical guide to developing a community profile which is defined as `a social, environmental and economic description of a given area which is used to inform local decision-making.'

Andrew Floyer Acland, The Environment Council, 1992.
Booklet on `how to reach agreement by consent in multi-party, multi-issue situations.' Describes a five stage process: Assessment, Initiation, Meetings, Decisions, Making the Solutions Work. Free - call the Council.

Creating Development Trusts.
Diane Warburton and David Wilcox, HMSO, 1988.
Case studies of joint public, private, community organisations concerned with area conservation and renewal. Also outlines the start up process for a trust, and elements of good practice.

Creating involvement.
Environment Trust Associates, Local Government Management Board, 1994.
A handbook on participation techniques, covering some of the same ground as this guide. Provides more detailed guidance on, for example, workshops, surveys, and Planning for Real.

The Local Government Government Management Board is also producing a series of free papers on community participation and other issues relating to Agenda 21 - the programme being developed by local authorities following the 1992 Rio Earth Summit..

Croner's Management of Voluntary Organisations.
Croner Publications, 1989 plus quarterly updates.
Substantial compendium of management advice, aimed at staffed voluntary organisations.

Designing your own simulations.
Ken Jones, Methuen, 1985.
Aimed mainly at teachers, but the approach is more widely applicable.

Getting organised: a handbook for non-statutory organisations.
Christine Holloway and Shirley Otto, Bedford Square Press, 1985.
The authors write that: `The purpose of this book is to help you bring about changes which will improve the effectiveness of your organisation.' It does this by raising key management issues and providing checklists and exercises.

Getting to yes.
Roger Fisher and William Ury, Hutchinson, 1981.
A classic work on negotiation with applications spanning personal relationships, work and international diplomacy. Key elements of the method are: Separate the people from the problem; Focus on interests, not positions; Invent options for mutual gain; Insist on objective criteria. It deals with What if they are more powerful? What if they won't play? What if they use dirty tricks?

How to make meetings work.
Malcolm Peel, Kogan Page, 1988.
Covers planning for meetings, how groups work, different roles, formal procedures, legal issues, and conferences. Brief section on `special meetings' for brainstorming, negotiation, therapy, training, and a section on conferences.

How to solve your problems.
Brenda Rogers, Sheldon Press, 1991.
Counsellor and teacher deals with problems from the personal perspective, using techniques also relevant to groups and organisations. For example, chapters include Defining and clarifying the Problem; Collecting information; Creative thinking; Generating more ideas; Making decisions; Putting your decisions into action.

Influencing with integrity.
Genie Z. Laborde, Syntony Publishing, 1983.
Early application of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) by a US communication consultant. Provides a theoretical basis for advice on how to establish rapport with your audience, clarify the outcomes you are seeking, read body language, interpret responses, and run meetings effectively.

Introduction to neuro-linguistic programming.
Joseph O'Connor and John Seymour, Thorsons Publishing Group, 1990.
A more detailed description of NLP, its psychological basis and use of linguistic analysis. Deals with the underlying processes of communication.

Just about managing?
Sandy Adirondack, London Voluntary Service Council, 1992.
Best-selling guide to effective management for voluntary organisations and community groups. Covers all the main issues, with lots of checklists.

Limbering up.
Ann Holmes, Radical Improvements for Peripheral Estates, 1992.
Study of community empowerment on housing estates, with a strong focus on the issues of confidence, communication and capacity. Twenty of the issues are analysed in detail, with accompanying exercises to tackle problems.

Local authorities and community development: a strategic opportunity for the 1990s.
Association of Metropolitan Authorities, 1993.
Recommendations on how local authorities can develop strategic plans and practical action to secure greater community involvement in service delivery. Prepared by a joint working party representing local authorities and community organisations.

Making it happen: a user's guide to the Neighbourhood Action Packs.
Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation.
A description of how to use three dimensional models and other back-up materials to involve communities in decision-making. Written by Tony Gibson who has pioneered Planning for Real. NIF has produced about 40 packs and publications guided by the philosophy that the people who live and work in neighbourhoods are the real experts.

Managing yourself.
Mike Pedler and Tom Boydell, Fontana, 1985.
Written for `the thinking manager' by consultants who specialise in management education and development. Based on the belief that `you cannot manage others unless you are able to manage yourself - to be proactive, rather than allowing yourself to be buffeted and controlled by events and other people.' To that might be added that you can't empower other people unless you are empowered yourself.

Manual for action.
Martin Jeffs, Action Resources Group, 1982.
Sub-titled `Techniques to enable groups engaged in action for change to increase their effectiveness'. The first edition, published in 1977, grew out of concern with training for non-violent action. The later edition, revised by Sandy Merritt, contains over 120 techniques. Unfortunately difficult to find.

Organising in voluntary and community groups.
National Extension College, 1992.
This title covers two sets of linked materials produced by NEC: a set of distance learning materials by Anne Stamper for people following the RSA advanced diploma in the organisation of community groups, plus a resource pack by Roger Gomm and Minna Ireland.

Organising things: a guide to successful political action.
Sue Ward, Pluto Press, 1984.
How to organise public meetings, marches and demonstrations, lobbies, petitions, conferences, festivals. Written for campaigners, useful on other fronts as well.

Participation - a tenants' handbook.
Liz Cairncross, David Clapham, Robina Goodlad. Tenant Participation Advisory Service, 1990.
Written for "tenants' groups and other tenants who may be trying to have more say over what happens to their homes and estates." Distinguishes different levels of participation from listening to control, and deals with some of the methods for involvement which may be used by landlords.

Planning Together: the art of effective teamwork.
George Gawlinski and Lois Graessle, Bedford Square Press. 1988.
Presents a theoretical model for co-operative planning by any group of people working together as a team, and a step-by-step approach with exercises. Chapters on Taking stock; Developing and sharing a vision; Linking values, policies and strategies; Prioritising aims; Setting objectives; Getting organised and staying organised; Evaluating progress. The the model and exercises can be adapted for participation processes.

Planning under pressure: the strategic choice approach.
John Friend and Allen Hickling, Pergamon Press, 1987
A comprehensive account of the strategic choice approach to planning, problem-solving and decision-making. Powerful, but not for the beginner.

Practical problem solving for managers.
Michael Stevens, British Institute of Management, Kogan Page, 1988.
The author defines problems as `situations in which we experience uncertainty or difficulty in achieving what we want to achieve' and offers the equation `objective + obstacle = PROBLEM.' He covers defining problems; generating ideas; solving problems in groups; evaluating solutions; and getting your solution accepted. Includes useful exercises and checklists.

Pressure: the A to Z of campaigning in Britain.
Des Wilson. Heinemann, 1984.
A practical guide to running campaigns by one of the most successful campaigners of the 1970s and 80s. Mainly about national campaigns, but also readable and relevant for local groups. See also Citizen Action.

Rational analysis for a problematic world.
Edited by Jonathan Rosenhead, Wiley, 1989.
Brings together in relatively accessible form `super techniques' for problem solving like Cognitive Mapping, Soft Systems Methodology and Strategic Choice.

Reinventing government.
David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, Addison Wesley, 1992.
Contains many examples of new entrepreneurial approaches to national and local government in the US and is, apparently, required reading among Ministers and senior Civil Servants here.

Resource manual for a living revolution.
Virginia Coover, Ellen Deacon, Charles Esser, Christopher Moore. New Society Publishers, 1985.
US classic developed by people involved in non-violent social action in the 1970s `for people who are concerned or angered by the deterioration of our society and who, because they have some sense that their efforts can have an effect for change, are looking for tools to transform it.' Relevant to campaigning and practical action. Sections cover the theoretical basis for change; working in groups; developing communities of support; personal growth; consciousness raising; training and education; organising for change; exercises and other tools; and practical skills.

Signposts to community development.
Marilyn Taylor, Community Development Foundation, 1992.
Makes community development understandable in under 40 pages: a considerable achievement.

Tenant participation in housing management.
Institute of Housing and Tenant Participation Advisory Service, 1989.
A guide to good practice based on research undertaken by Glasgow University. Covers the legal requirements of participation in housing; the pattern of participation found in research; the process; the participants; outcomes and achievements; and standards and performance.

The innovator's handbook.
Vincent Nolan, Penguin, 1989.
A volume which brings together books on problem solving, communication and teamwork written by the chairman of consultants Synectics Limited.

The Tao of Leadership.
John Heider, Wildwood House, 1985.
The author takes the 2500-year-old Chinese classic the Tao Te Ching - source of `The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step' - and shows its relevance for leaders (and facilitators) today. A reminder that little is new.

Training and how not to panic.
Community Education Training Unit, 1992.
A set of practical guidelines for people involved in training work with community groups, voluntary organisations and local authorities. Covers setting up and planning training events; running the training; exercises and role plays; doubts and difficulties.

Training and how to enjoy it.
Community Education Training Unit, 1989.
A collection of training exercises devised by people working in and for community groups and voluntary organisations. The exercises cover groups and meetings; publicity and campaigning; equal opportunities; finance and funding; planning and problem solving.

Understanding organisations.
Charles Handy, Penguin, 1993.
Charles Handy is the most accessible of the management gurus. He is always readable, understands the voluntary sector, and puts people first. This book deals with key issues like culture, motivation, leadership, power and so offers insights into what makes organisations participatory or non-participatory. Understanding Voluntary Organisations is also available in Penguin.

Using management games.
Chris Elgood, Gower, 1990.
Guidance on developing training games, simulation and exercises.

Voluntary but not amateur.
Duncan Forbes, Ruth Hayes and Jacki Reason, London Voluntary Service Council, 1990.
A guide to the law for voluntary organisations and community groups covering responsibilities as an organisation; employment; premises; insurance; fundraising; accounts; public activities; computers; facing closure.

Working effectively.
Warren Feek, Bedford Square Press, 1988.
How to improve an organisation's self-awareness, motivation, performance (and appeal to funders) by using evaluation techniques.

Yes or no: the guide to better decisions.
Spencer Johnson, Harper Collins,1992.
Neatly uses the analogy of a journey to illustrate the main processes of decision-making. See Yes or no in the A-Z section.

Your organisation: what is it for?
John Argenti, McGraw Hill, 1993.
Argues strongly that all organisations must identify beneficiaries, set performance indicators which ensure value is delivered to them, and create governing bodies which represent their interests.
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Useful organisations

Information correct at March 1994 - call organisations before writing.

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England)
Somerford Court,
Somerford Road,
Gloucestershire GL7 1TW
tel: 01285 653477
The national contact point for 38 county-based Rural Community Councils.

Association of Community Technical Aid Centres (ACTAC)
64 Mount Pleasant,
Liverpool L3 5SD
tel: 0151 708 7607
ACTAC provides training, consultancy and project support to local groups as well as representing a national network of professionals who provide local technical support.

Association of Community Trusts and Foundations
High Holborn House,
52-54 High Holborn,
London WC1V 6RL
tel: 0171 831 0033
The national body representing fundraising and grant-making Community Trusts.

Association of Metropolitan Authorities
35 Great Smith Street,
London SW1P 3BJ
tel: 0171 222 8100
Represents metropolian local authorities. Published a recent report on local authorities and community development - see Useful Publications.

Civic Trust Regeneration Unit
17 Carlton House Terrace,
London SW1Y 5AW.
tel: 0171 930 0914
The Unit runs a Winning Partnerships programme as well offering consultancy on urban regeneration partnerships .

Community Development Foundation
60 Highbury Grove,
London N5 2AG
tel: 0171 226 5375
A non-departmental public body which aims to strengthen communities by influencing policy, promoting best practice and supporting community initiatives.

Community Education Development Centre
Lyng Hall,
Blackberry Lane,
Coventry CV2 3JS
tel: 01203 638660
The national focus for community education in the UK. Their Resources catalogue is a useful mail order source of books and other materials in the field.

Community Education Training Unit
Arden Road,
Halifax HX1 3AG
tel: 01422 357394
Produces excellent packs on training and facilitation.

Community Land and Workspace Services (CLAWS)
61 - 71 Collier St,
London N1 9DF.
tel: 0171 833 2909
Gives building, landscape design and architectural advice to community groups. See Design Game in the A-Z section.

Community Matters
8/9 Upper Street,
London N1 OPQ.
tel: 0171 226 0189
A membership network of 800 local community organisations, providing information, advice, and training.

Community Operational Research Unit
Northern College,
Wentworth Castle,
Barnsley S75 3ET
tel: 01226 285426
Assists community groups by applying many of the techniques featured in this guide.

Croner Publications Ltd
Croner House,
London Road,
Kingston upon Thames,
Surrey KT2 6SR
tel: 0181 547 3333
Publishers of Management of Voluntary Organisations.

Development Trusts Association
20 Conduit Place,
London W2 1HZ.
tel: 0171 706 4951
The national umbrella organisation for community-based development organisations.

Directory of Social Change
Radius Works,
Back Lane,
London NW3 1HL
tel: 0171 435 8171
Independent national charity which runs a wide range of training courses and produces practical handbooks. Also produces a publications catalogue including some other titles quoted in this guide.

Environment Council, The
21 Elizabeth Street,
London SW1W 9RP
tel: 0171824 8411
Runs training sessions and an Environmental Resolve consultancy programme of consensus building.

Groundwork Foundation
85/87 Cornwall Street,
Birmingham B3 3BY
tel: 0121 236 8565
The Foundation funds and support a network of 34 local Groundwork Trusts, which are public, private and voluntary partnerships engaged in environmental work.

Information for Action Ltd
PO Box 277,
Brighton BN1 4PF
tel: 01273 724575
A software consultancy which produces the specialist Cata-LIST database designed for community groups.

Lincolnshire Wolds Publications
The Buttermarket,
Caistor LN7 6UE.
tel: 01472 851558
Publish Community enterprise from the bottom up.

Local Government Management Board
Arndale House,
Arndale Centre,
Luton LU1 2TS
tel: 01582 451166
Represents and supports local authorities through research, training and publications.

London Voluntary Service Council
68 Chalton Street,
London NW1 1JR
tel: 0171 388 0241
Publishes a number of the books on management of voluntary organisations mentioned in this guide.

National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service
177 Arundel Court,
Sheffield S1 2NU.
tel: 01742 786636
Will provide details of your local Council for Voluntary Service, which will be a contact point for voluntary organisations in your area.

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
8 Regents Wharf,
All Saints Street,
London N1 9LR
tel: 0171 713 6161
The national body for the voluntary sector.

National Extension College
18 Brooklands Avenue,
Cambridge CB2 2HN
tel: 01223 316644
Publications and courses.

Neighbourhood Initiatives Foundation
The Poplars,
Telford TF3 3QN
tel: 01952 590777
See Planning for Real in the A-Z section. NIF sells a range of packs and also offers consultancy support on participation.

Newcastle Architecture Workshop Ltd
Monk Street,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4XN.
tel: 0191 261 7349
The workshop is an educational charity providing an environmental education and community technical aid and design service. See Awareness through to action under Useful Publications.

13 Pelham Square,
Brighton BN1 4ET
01273 677377

Offers consultancy and training on participation and partnership organisations; where you can contact the author of this guide. David Wilcox

Planning Aid for London
Calvert House,
5 Calvert Avenue,
London E2 7JP.
tel: 0171 613 4435.
Provides advice on town planning issues and encourages people to become involved in shaping their environment. Can provide addresses of similar organisations elsewhere.

Priority Focus Team
Town Hall,
Surrey Street,
Sheffield S1 2HH
tel: 01742 734024
See Priority Search in the A-Z section.

Radical Improvements for Peripheral Estates (RIPE)
C/o Middlesbrough Borough Council,
First floor,
Corporation House,
Albert Road,
Middlesbrough TS1 2RU.
tel: 01642 245432
Published Limbering up, a study of community empowerment on peripheral housing estates.

Royal Institute of British Architects
Community Architecture Resource Centre,
66 Portland Place,
London W1N 4AD
tel: 0171 580 5533.
The resource centre organises training for community groups developing building and environmental projects, and administers a fund for groups undertaking feasibility studies. Also supplies information on architects who will help groups.

School for Advanced Urban Studies
Rodney Lodge,
Grange Road,
Bristol BS8 4EA
tel: 01272 741117
Research, consultancy, training and publications, including work on issues of participation and partnership.

Shell Better Britain Campaign
Red House,
Hill Lane,
Birmingham B43 5BR
tel: 0121 358 0744
A partnership of 15 organisations with Shell UK, providing information, grants and advice to local groups. The free Guide to a Better Britain is an excellent source of ideas and help about community-based environmental projects.

Standing Conference for Community Development
356 Glossop Road,
Sheffield S10 2HW
tel: 01742 701718
A `network of networks' for activists, paid workers and organisations in the field. Call for details and local contacts.

Stradspan Limited
Sheffield Science Park,
Arundel Street,
Sheffield S1 2NS
tel: 01742 724140
Supplies software for the Strategic Choice decision-making technique.

Tenant Participation Advisory Service
48 The Crescent,
Salford M5 4NY
tel: 0161 745 7903
The national organisation promoting and supporting tenant participation.

Volunteer Centre UK
29 Lower Kings Road,
Herts HP4 2AB
tel: 01442 873311
Runs courses for people working with volunteers, provides help and advice to groups, and publishes useful materials.
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