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PROGRAMME AoPL 2023 by Dimitri Brooks 1 1200The Art of Participatory Leadership is distilled from tens of thousands of workshops worldwide, using techniques proven to elicit the best from groups and individuals. Focussed particularly on work in and with organisations, it has proven its effectiveness in contexts as diverse as the EU (where thousands in the EU commission have been trained to use the practices); the Americas (from corporate settings in Ohio to municipal government in Canada, and cities and companies in Brazil); South East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia); and Africa (Egypt, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast).

In Switzerland we have seen it grow in corporate settings such as Swarovski, Zufall Logistics, Zumtobel; NGO and SME settings such as WWF, IUCN, Business School Lausanne, the Paul Scherrer Institute and Z02 Architects; as well as in non-organisational life by individuals, coaches and students.

While the workshop is offered in English, opportunities are provided to use English or French in some of the smaller group sessions– with a workbook available in each language.


A Sample Programme:
Throughout the program, participants practice the techniques and posture for enriching understanding and opening up possibilities in inclusive ways, before winnowing down and driving to action. Increasingly we are bringing in personal leadership presence to help increase personal stability, and reduce the impact of, and impact on, workplace tensions.

The precise sequence and focus varies depending upon the background and needs of the participants. Each area is experienced, practiced, reflected upon and learnings are drawn for further application and development.

Day 1

An Introduction to Circle Practice.
Getting to know one another and what brought participants to the workshop.
Evening session - Starting to look at living systems.

Day 2

Morning practice – experiential techniques for enhancing emotional and physical stability [optional]

Appreciative Inquiry to capture what makes the current system effective, what might make it even more effective, and how teams might move forward most readily
World Café exploration of leadership, its dimensions, and how it is perceived differently; working with divergence, convergence and emergence
“Harvesting” and its role in creating and sustaining meaningful action
Leadership Presence – exploring how our personal stance affects our interactions
Open Space Technology – how and why it works; why some managers find it unsettling, and how it can serve an organisation’s purpose
Evening session: Open session (optional) to explore questions about how the practices are used practically at work, and any other questions participants feel inspired to bring forward

Day 3

Morning practice – experiential techniques for enhancing emotional and physical stability [optional]

Deepening the practice: parallel sessions on graphic recording; world café; pro-action café; participatory leadership; collective mind-mapping; appreciative inquiry; solutions focus; designing powerful questions

Sequencing the practices: how do these practices fit together to create a flow that delivers?

The fourfold practice: applying the practices to self, the team, the organisation and the larger world

Personal and group leadership presence to explore how we interact with groups

The power of purpose

Bringing it home: linking the practices to individual’s work context

Evening session: Collective Storytelling & storylistening: the power of narrative; the power of an audience; the power of listening with perspective

Day 4
  • Morning practice – experiential techniques for enhancing emotional and physical stability [optional]
  • Design jams & the power of peer reviews
  • Action projects: how to marry depth and speed in the projects I am involved in
  • In the latter part of the workshop, participants and teams have the opportunity to develop project prototypes, test them with peers, and refine them for implementation.
  • A farewell lunch

We invite participants’ creativity through our activities and the visual supports we offer. 

Here is an example of interactive fresco that was developed during AoPL 2024: