Why Engage?

Traditionally, public consultation meant that governments asked people for their views on an issue, then went behind closed doors to deliberate and decide on a solution. Today, people expect more. They want a real say on the issues that matter to them, especially when these require trade-offs between important values or interests. And that’s where we come in. We design and deliver dialogue processes that give citizens and stakeholders a meaningful role in finding solutions that work for governments and people.

Our Approach

Our CEO, Don Lenihan, is an internationally recognized practitioner, writer, and thought leader in public engagement and public deliberation. His approach – Informed Participation – is designed specifically for public sector organizations, such as governments, hospitals, and universities.

Here’s where we can help you:
Our areas of expertise and our approach include…


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Knowledge-Transfer and Capacity-Building

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Training and Workshops

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Thought Leadership

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Here’s how we can help you:
Our skills and services include...

Designing and Implementing Engagement Processes


Report-Writing and Analysis

Meet Don Lenihan

Recent publications from processes

we’re helping to lead:

What is public engagement?
A discussion with Don Lenihan

Middle Ground’s Associates

Middle Ground has working partnerships with other organizations and consulting firms, including:

• The Institute on Governance
• PACE Public Affairs and Community Engagement
• PubliVate


Middle Ground is an expert provider of engagement services. Our starting point is that there are no cookie-cutters. Every process is designed around the issue, the circumstances, and the participants, to produce constructive dialogue and win/win solutions. We believe that the process must fit the task.

We work with governments, civil society and businesses to provide a comprehensive suite of services, from convening small groups of exerts to resolve technical policy issues to advising local governments on the design and delivery of community dialogue processes.

Our tools are easily adapted to different sectors, from energy and the environment to healthcare and culture, as well as to a wide range of topics and tasks, including strategic planning, policy development, change management, service delivery, and evaluation. We can change how you do what you do. Just ask.

We specialize in public engagement processes that create space for productive and respectful conversations between stakeholder groups, allowing for comprehensively crafted solutions that extend beyond yes/no. Our team of engagement professionals are aware that numerous factors influence the decision-making, for instance, stakeholder needs, expert opinion, and public feedback. Therefore, we add value to the clients by facilitating them in clarifying the role of every individual in our work.

Precisely, the engagement services that we offer are:

  • Organizational development and engagement training
  • Participatory design and community capacity building
  • Feedback management, outcomes reporting, and evaluation
  • Digital engagement through deliberative tools, preference selection, video, and crowdsourcing
  • Background materials with approachable language and infographics
  • Focus groups and stakeholder roundtables
  • Workshops to create informed recommendations to decision-makers
  • Generative dialogue to surface potential solutions, opportunities, and issues
  • Visioning workshops to identify aspirations and shared values
  • Program implementation and design across the engagement lifecycle

The public management plan that we design for you would detail how you’d be looking to involve the residents of the region in your public plans, projects, and programs. The public management plan would describe your objectives and goals for public engagement while also discovering specific opportunities, techniques, and approaches for ongoing interaction and communication with the public. We are committed to comprehending diverse ideas, concerns, and needs of the public about your region.

The public engagement plan that we provide outlines various channels through which participation may be promoted by every member of the public interested in your activities. It comprises:

  1. Guidance on public participation for the staff of partner consultants or agencies
  2. Our commitment to serving the needs of the broadly diverse population of the region
  3. The stakeholder and public involvement process for major programs and plans
  4. Accessing information and maintaining communication
  5. Public meetings

Our public engagement plan is a product of robust research into best practices of public participation along with our first-hand experience with our award-winning and innovative outreach efforts. In the public engagement plan, we commit to being a leader in engaging the public and treating the public as partners. Some new opportunities for engagement in the public engagement plan comprise:

  1. Guidance for developing future public participation plans
  2. Strategies aimed at including under-represented populations in decision-making

Deliberation makes use of analysis and dialogue to overcome difficult issues, especially where tradeoffs between interests or competing values are required. While governments have always been a great advocate of deliberation, this committee involved officials and politicians who deliberated behind closed doors. Public deliberation engages stakeholders and/or citizens in the research for mutually acceptable solutions to particular issues. While the novelty of this approach cannot be doubted, it has attracted attention on a global level.

Being led by a renowned writer, practitioner, and thought the leader in public deliberation and public engagement Don Lenihan, Middle Ground Engagement is an epic provider of top-notch public deliberation. His approach is particularly suited to public sector organizations like universities, hospitals, and governments, meaning that you’d get nothing but a flawless public deliberation and public collaboration service.

So, if you need any help regarding public consultation, public engagement strategies, public engagement plans, and public deliberation, reach out to Middle Ground Engagement. We’d be glad to help you out!

Our Client List

Over the years, Middle Ground has worked with scores of departments from federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments across the country, and internationally. While these projects are generally sponsored by one or more government departments, they almost always involve representatives from the private sector, civil society, and/or citizens. These working relationships are often deeply involved and may extend over many months or even years. The list of governments that have engaged Middle Ground to design and lead such projects include:

National Governments

• The Government of Australia
• The Government of Canada
• The Government of Trinidad & Tobago
• The Government of Singapore

Professional Associations

• Canadian Teachers’ Federation
• Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation
• Canadian Bar Association
• The Alberta Electric System Operator

Municipal Governments

• City of Ottawa
• Regional Municipality of Waterloo
• City of Hamilton
• City of Edmonton
• City of Vancouver

Provincial and Territorial Governments

• British Columbia
• Ontario
• Nova Scotia
• Nunavut
• Alberta
• Quebec
• Prince Edward Island
• Northwest Territories
• Saskatchewan
• New Brunswick
• Newfoundland
• Yukon
• Manitoba

Public Sector Organizations

• The Ottawa Hospital
• The Bank of Canada
• Algonquin College

Contact Us

Don Lenihan
Middle Ground

E: Don.Lenihan@bell.net
P: 613-795-6828

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