About ToP

We teach Technology of Participation (ToP)® courses developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA). These methodologies have been tested and used extensively throughout the world in many organizations and communities.

ToP was developed by ICA to release the creativity of people to plan, think, and lead to shape their own destinies. The courses are designed to be used by those in leadership positions in public and private agencies and community groups, as well as by meeting facilitators and consultants. The programs strengthen the capacities of individuals, organizations, and communities to build and implement plans for action and engagement. The work is grounded in collaborative strategies that draw upon human assets and build social capital to facilitate sustainable organizations and communities.

Foundational values of ToP:

  • Inclusive participation – Invites and sustains the participation of all members of the group. Each member holds an important piece of the puzzle and each person’s insights help to create the whole picture.
  • Teamwork and collaboration – Assumes teamwork and collaboration are necessary to get a task done in the most effective, efficient, and economical way. Creates a deep sense of collegiality among members of the group.
  • Individual and group creativity – Brings out the best of each person’s rational and intuitive capacities to build innovative solutions.
  • Action – Positions the group to take action on group decisions. Moves the group toward action by generating member support and commitment.
  • Reflection and learning – Leads participants in deep reflection that elicits consolidation of learning and continuous improvement.
  • Focus on Leadership – Provides leaders with practical methods to hear from all staff, honor all ideas, and create ownership for the chosen solutions.


ToP provides structured facilitation methods to help groups think, talk, and work together:

  • Recognize and honor contributors
  • Deal with more data in less time
  • Integrate individual contributions into useful patterns
  • Welcome diversity
  • Minimize polarizing conflict

ToP courses help participants:

  • Learn to energize meetings and find consensus
  • Speak up – Participate in meetings
  • Brainstorm – Generate useful data and synthesize into useful information
  • Tackle complex issues
  • Turn ideas into concrete plans
  • Get results instead of circular conversations

Upcoming Events

  • Design Thinking: The Basics
    • October 8, 2021
      9:00 am - 11:00 am

    DESCRIPTION Design thinking provides a collaborative approach for deeply understanding service recipients’ needs. It arose to provide human-centered solutions through a deep focus on user…

  • ToP Strategic Planning Online
    • October 18, 2021 - October 22, 2021
      8:30 am - 12:00 pm

    Weave the powerful ToP Facilitation Methods into an integrated approach to strategic planning for a plan that is realistic, achievable and easy to monitor. Due…

  • Design Thinking: A Bootcamp Intensive
    • October 19, 2021 - October 22, 2021
      9:00 am - 11:00 am

    DESCRIPTION Do you need a client-focused way of reimagining services and programs? Design thinking provides a collaborative approach for deeply understanding service recipients’ needs. Organizations can…

  • TFM Leadership - Online Intensive
    • TFM Leadership - Online Intensive
      October 25, 2021 - December 10, 2021
      9:00 am - 11:30 am

    Learn participatory methods that enable groups to achieve shared understanding, build consensus on ways to move forward and create plans that result in committed action…

  • Accelerated Action Planning Online
    • November 4, 2021
      9:30 am - 3:30 pm

    Learn to energize and align your team to successfully plan a project or event in a matter of hours, in an online environment. The fast…