Deliberation: Turning Stakeholder Tensions into Solutions

2 day courseIn Ottawa, ON
  • November 21, 20198:30am - 4:30pm
  • November 22, 20198:30am - 4:30pm
Register ›
  • February 27, 20208:30am - 4:30pm
  • February 28, 20208:30am - 4:30pm
Register ›


Public engagement experts distinguish between traditional consultation processes, on one hand, and deliberation, on the other. In consultation, government gathers citizens’ and/or stakeholders’ views, then uses them to inform its internal decision-making. In deliberation, government not only asks the public for their views but encourages them to engage one another in detailed and informed exchanges.

This workshop teaches the skills and tools to build a broad collaborative approach to reaching decisions and sharing outcomes.

These exchanges can range from informal dialogue sessions to deep analysis. The former could include a facilitated community meeting where participants present and comment on one another’s views; express support for different positions, and even vote on different options. At the other end of the spectrum, participants are engaged in a structured dialogue that guides participants toward agreement on complex issues by, for example, weighing evidence, setting priorities, or getting participants to make trade-offs between competing interests.

Deliberation is not new. Governments have always used it in policy-making, but they usually do so internally and behind closed doors. Typically, this might involve a committee of elected officials or a team of policy experts. Such processes are sometimes supported by public consultation, but efforts to involve the public in the deliberative stage of the process are rare.

Many managers and professionals need new approaches to public engagement and consultation. There are challenging questions that have to be tackled:

  • How large can a group be and still engage in meaningful deliberation?
  • What should the process leaders do if the participants become divided on an issue and fail to reach agreement?
  • What happens if the participants arrive at answers that are unacceptable to the government / organization, for example, by requiring resources it does not have or pursuing a goal it regards as unattainable?
  • What type of process is best for which issues?
  • Is deliberation better than consultation?
  • How do online tools change the situation?

Course Description

This two-day workshop from the Institute on Governance and based on the OGP Practice Group’s research will equip government managers and professionals, professionals from civil society organizations, and others working for public and not-for-profit organizations with the concepts, skills, and tools they need to engage stakeholders and citizens. The process – and the results – of the engagement are seen as fairer, more open, transparent, meaningful, and productive.

Specifically, the workshop will:

  • Introduce you to the concept of deliberation as a rules-based approach to open policy-making;
  • Teach you how to design a deliberative process that matches your stakeholders’ needs and expectations;
  • Ensure high standards of evidence-based decision-making: and
  • Explore how to engage stakeholders in making trade-offs and setting priorities in ways that are reasonable and fair.

The take-aways you can expect include:

  • A solid grasp of the foundational concepts of public engagement, such as the difference between consultation, deliberation, and collaboration;
  • Tests for determining where and when deliberation is needed; and
  • Tools to design and scale effective deliberative processes.

The session will be divided into two main parts: Concepts and Process Design:

Concepts:The first half of Day One involves an assessable introduction to the conceptual foundations of deliberation, as a form of public engagement. Participants will learn about how deliberation differs from consultation; and how it can resolve complex issues that traditional consultation cannot. The “theory” from this session provides an essential foundation for the remaining day and a half, which will provide a roadmap for designing deliberative processes.

Process Design: This part of the course puts the concepts from Part I to work through a systematic approach to analyzing an issue and designing a deliberative process to address it. Participants will learn how to design good deliberative processes by acquiring the foundational design skills, anticipate key issues that can arise along the way, and provide best practices to help practitioners respond to them. At the same time, participants will learn how to tailor the deliberation approach to the specific needs of their organization. The workshop is fast-paced and highly interactive. Don’s approach mixes concepts with lots of examples and cases drawn from first-hand experience. The session will equip you with state-of-the-art tools to help plan, design, deliver and evaluate deliberative processes.

What you will gain

Participants will be introduced to in-class and online examples and case studies that explain key aspects of the approach. Attendees will also participate in group exercises to deepen their grasp of key concepts.

This two-day workshop will allow participants to delve into these and other questions and develop the answers that match their organization’s consultation needs and practices.

Our goal is to provide you with a new and comprehensive picture of deliberative processes that changes how you think about public engagement. Deliberation lets you see engagement in a new light and shows you how it can lead to real progress on some of our most intractable issues.

What you'll leave with:

  • A clear understanding of how different types of consultative processes, including Deliberation, shape stakeholder behaviour and expectations;
  • A framework of questions that help you match the right process with your stakeholders’ needs and expectations;
  • A new understanding of how to make dialogue processes more evidence-based;
  • A model to scale deliberative processes to include large numbers of people; and
  • Examples and cases that illustrate all the above.

Who should attend?

Typical attendee profile(s):

Government managers and professionals, civil society organizations, public and not-for-profit organizations

Government managers and professionals, civil society organizations, public and not-for-profit organizations

  • Managers and professionals in the federal public service;
  • Managers and professionals from civil society organizations; and
  • Professionals working for other public and not-for-profit / volunteer / charitable organizations.

What's included

Expert facilitation, course materials, morning and afternoon coffee, and a buffet lunch.

Course fee(s)

$1350 per attendee

As a not-for-profit organization, the IOG does not charge HST.

Registration is done through an online registration system where you can select to pay by credit card or request an invoice.

Group discounts

If you have more than two people attending, you may be eligible for a group discount. Contact us for details at 613-562-0090 or

Main contact

IOG Learning Centre
2 day courseIn Ottawa, ON
  • November 21, 20198:30am - 4:30pm
  • November 22, 20198:30am - 4:30pm
Register ›
  • February 27, 20208:30am - 4:30pm
  • February 28, 20208:30am - 4:30pm
Register ›

The IOG value-added

All IOG courses are prepared and taught by those who have held senior positions in the federal government. They are guided by a Learning Committee of senior federal government public servants.

For those who wish to have an adapted course that is specific to their issues and requirements, customized course offerings can be delivered on request for branches, teams or groups, in English or French in any part of the country.

The IOG also offers the Coaching Circle, to assist executives and officers at all levels of government as well as non-profit and other organizations in the development of their leadership skills.

More on custom offerings ›