A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of lecturer Peter Macleod, conducting a workshop for Team19. Peter is a Principal and Co-founder of MASS LBP and one of Canada’s leading experts in public engagement and deliberative democracy.



Who are you, where do you come from and what do you do in your professional life?
I run a small shop called MASS LBP in Toronto, Canada which designs democratic processes to help governments take decisions, set priorities and resolve conflicts. We work in the space between elections to involve citizens in policy-making and priority-setting. I am also the co-Chair of the Wagemark Foundation which last summer established the first global consumer mark for wage-responsible companies.


What is it that you are going to do (or have been doing) at the kaospilot?

I’ve been lucky to be visiting the Kaospilots as a lecturer for a little more than a decade. My first team was team eight and it’s been great to watch the school as well as the students grow and evolve. Typically I conduct workshops on policy trends and how they shape the public imagination as well as the context for new businesses and movements.


What was you experience or what do you hope will come out of it?

I keep coming back because the classroom experience is always stimulating and rewarding — and of course I count many of the faculty as good friends so it’s always a treat to see them. It should be said that after twenty years, the Kaospilots approach and the recognition of creative process design as a discipline, has become much better understood and popularized. Design schools and business schools have tried to emulate the approach first taught by the Kaospilots, but where they still come up short is thinking in more radical and social ways. I think this gives the Kaospilots its edge. There are still core values — some of them Scandinavian to be sure — at the heart of the Kaospilots education which sets it apart. I try and tap into these values because I still believe they’re world-changing, and are the basis for personal growth.


what kind of questions do you consider to be the most important for you and your work?

Our work is fundamentally about esteeming the act of public service, and creating space for everyday citizens to take on the responsibility of representing their peers and neighbours. At MASS, democracy isn’t about voting or the winner-takes-all of traditional political life. It’s about empathy and developing a relationship and responsibility towards the people who seem like strangers to us, but are nevertheless our equals. When we develop our programs we take a group of citizens and create for them the privilege of representing others and we try to staff and support them in their deliberations. As we invoke a space for public service, we put ourselves at service to our panellists and citizen members. These ideals of service and empathy are absolutely integral to our approach.


what inspires you in your work?

Among western democracies, we’ve been living in a time of declining trust and confidence in our public institutions. A certain degree of skepticism may be healthy, but liberal democratic societies require mass participation to function well. If we grow too far apart — economically, socially, politically — the centre doesn’t hold and we open the door to a kind of reactionary politics that can only set us back. Consequently, much of my work falls into three categories: focusing on the citizen’s experience of the state, the vitality of our public imagination and the future of responsible government.


what kind of advice or tip would you offer to young, aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs that want to be a positive force for the world?

Do your best to avoid the fads and boosterism that sweep across the landscape, in business and in social change alike. Focus on doing something that you believe in, but also understand why you believe in it and test your assumptions. Then keep doing it and as you do it, do it generously and well.