About ToP

Build a culture of participation. Embrace facilitative leadership

The Technology of Participation (ToP™) is proven worldwide to be effective in building a culture of participation in organisations and communities.

The ToP methods enable teams and groups to make the most of precious time in meetings and workshops, harnessing diverse views and generating enduring solutions that everyone owns.

The ToP methods share a common underlying dynamic and hallmarks, which combine to create an extremely versatile and robust set of techniques. The methods are interactive and engaging and provide for authentic participation.

ToP methods can be used in any field of human endeavour where people need to create, plan or decide together. One powerful application is in distilling the lessons from events and experiences so as to move forward collectively.

By embracing facilitative leadership and ToP methods, businesses can tackle complex challenges, harness diverse ideas, build understanding, and drive collective progress towards shared goals.

The Evolution of ToP Facilitation Methods: A Collaborative Approach

The ToP approaches to group facilitation were pioneered back in the 1950’s and 60’s by the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), a global not-for-profit concerned with the human factor in personal, community and organisational development.

Since that time, ICA’s inclusive and participatory approaches have gained worldwide recognition and respect.

In the 1980s the ICA developed models for training in methods and perspectives of participatory change. Courses are now offered in many parts of the world.

The Technology of Participation (ToP™) Facilitative Leadership Program developed by the Australasian Institute of Cultural Affairs is what we offer here.

Since 2005, we have worked in partnership with the kaupapa Māori education organisation Te Mauri Tau to progressively adapt and evolve the teaching and use of the methods in a manner appropriate to the cultural contexts of Aotearoa – New Zealand.


Realising Human Potential

Ecumenical Institute forms. Teaching emphasises individual self-responsibility and empowerment.


Potency of Image Recognised

Pioneering participatory community development in the Fifth City Chicago creates foundational participatory methods.


ICA Australia established

ICAA names justice for indigenous peoples a core underlying issue for Australia.


Taking participatory approaches to the world

ICA initiates Human Development Projects in each of the world’s 24 time zones.


Technology of Participation comes into being

ICA’s foundational participatory methods named the Technology of Participation (ToP)
Laura Spencer’s book ToP ‘Winning Through Participation’ published 1989.


Oceania embraces facilitation

ToP methods taught to more than half of Australia’s Landcare facilitators during Decade of Landcare
ToP methods taught to council staff supporting NZ care groups


Australasian Facilitators’ Network established

First Australia New Zealand facilitation conference held
Australasian Facilitators Network begins


Participatory Techniques Ltd formed

Dr Helen Ritchie and Michelle Rush form Participatory Techniques Ltd


Journey to evolve bicultural facilitation practice begins

First public ToP course in New Zealand held at the Kokiri Centre, Whaingaroa (Raglan)
Relationship with Te Mauri Tau begins


AFN challenged to become indigenous-informed

Indigenous Australian ToP Facilitator Carol Vale challenges AFN facilitators to become indigenous-informed
“Towards an Indigenous Informed Facilitation Practice” resource developed


Te Mauri Tau & Participatory Techniques Ltd host 2016 AFN conference

Theme of Tuakana-Teina


ToP in Aotearoa continues to evolve

New courses developed
Online ToP training offered.

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Organisations we have worked with