Group empowerment includes elements of chaos. But with careful design the individual and group energy within that chaos can be focused into creativity, innovation and sustainability.

ToP design uses natural thinking and action processes to bring discipline into any group process. ToP design feels seamless and artful, as if everything is going naturally the way it should. People are participating and can recognize and feel the forward momentum.

Case studies

Design Eye
Design Eye

The Process Design Eye is a facilitator, leader, educator, or change agent’s tools for designing participatory events that make a difference. It contains the mental model and all of the questions that one asks a client or leadership team to ensure that a participatory process has the impact to bring about the necessary shift in any team or group’s understanding and practice. It is used to design single events or a whole series over several months.

The design eye can used directly with the client, or in the background as a template for personal use only. An hour might get you through the design eye with the client, or longer if the intervention is complex.


4 Level  Thinking empowers people by providing a highly disciplined process, using natural thinking processes, to approach any situation, problem, event or change. It is often described, not as one of the tools in a toolbox, but as the toolbox itself in which every other tool fits. It takes any group on a journey of exploration of the situation and the group itself and leads to resolve and commitment to make something happen. Four-level ORID thinking allows any group to actually think together effectively. When it is explicitly understood by an individual it provides an armour against manipulation and also leads to breakthrough insights about how the group and each individual in the group actually operates.

This is used to give effective structure to conversations, retreats, planning, charrettes, workflows, symposia, think tanks, conferences, and tools of all other sorts.


The Master Strategies are used only for long term situations where social change on a large scale is needed, and is useful only to those with serious commitment to social movements.

Available in course


Conciliation is the ToP approach to conflict resolution. ToP practitioners are well-known for respectfully working through heavily entrenched conflict and bringing conciliation to the situation.


Scenario Model Building empowers a group by allowing different and even opposing scenarios and perspectives on a situation or problem to be a creative part of putting together one comprehensive model that all groups are resolved to implement. It relies on a frank discussion of the merits, components and values of each scenario.

This takes from three hours to one day depending on the scope and complexity of the situation.


Space Design allows space to become an ally by looking at the flow of people within a process and designing that flow within the spatial constraints that are present. This makes sure that people are where they need to be with the proper tools and support and that there are no last minute surprises to hinder the design.

This requires a visit to the space and an inspection with a high level of detail.

ToP books on design include Facilitation from the Inside Out by John Epps, The Art of Focused Conversation for Schools by Jo Nelson, Winning Through Participation by Laura Spencer.