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Backcasting is a method of analysing alternative futures, often energy futures. Its major distinguishing characteristic is a concern with how desirable futures can be attained. It involves working backward from a desired future end point or set of goals to the present to determine the physical feasibility of that particular future and the policy measures that would be required to reach that end point. End points are usually chosen for a time 25 to 50 years in the future. (continue)


A technique used to increase participation and understanding of issues. The fishbowl consists of an inner group of participants in a roundtable format involved in a conversation (possibly including Decision Making). (continue)

Printed Information

Printed material is still one of the easiest ways to publicise and provide information on a project/issue, or publicise a participation process such as an event or meeting. Popular forms include: fact sheets, flyers, newsletters, brochures, issues papers, reports, surveys etc. (continue)

Study Circles (general)

The study circle is a process for small-group deliberation about specific issues. Although the study circles fostered by the work of the Study Circles Resource Center are well-covered on NCDD's website, there are other types of study circles that are less well-known in the dialogue and deliberation community. (continue)


Brainstorming is a method for developing creative solutions to problems. It works by focusing on a problem, and then having participants come up with as many deliberately unusual solutions as possible and by pushing the ideas as far as possible. (continue)

Focus Group

Focus groups are used for exploratory studies, and the issues that emerge from the focus group may be developed into a questionnaire or other form of survey to verify the findings. Relatively inexpensive, focus groups can provide fairly dependable data within a short time frame. (continue)

Prioritization Matrix

A Prioritization Matrix is a technique used to achieve consensus within a specific group of participants about an issue. The Matrix helps rank problems or issues (usually generated through brainstorming or other techniques) by a particular criteria that is important to the project, as defined by the participants. (continue)


Briefings are often a way of providing information on a specific issue or initiative to a special audience. The presentation may be delivered by an industry, government or organisation's representative, and is typically followed by detailed discussions in a question and answer format. (continue)

Future Search

Future search includes a planning process and a 16 to 18-hour meeting usually including two overnights. Participants discover a set of shared values or themes (common ground) and build new dynamics such as inclusion and collaboration into their organization or community. Future search ("future search" is not capitalized) is not owned by anyone and all are encouraged to use the process and experiment with it. It is supported by a network of people called the Future Search Network. It is an open system process, which means it considers anyone a necessary participant who can affect, is affected by or has important information or experience related to the task at hand. (continue)

Public Conversation

Public conversation and/or individual discussion are informal consultations that allow you to talk to participants in a direct and personal manner. Informal consultation techniques such as these support more formalised consultation techniques by identifying key issues, attitudes, skills and knowledge. (continue)