Toolkit Navigator

The Reference Panel Playbook: Eight moves for designing a deliberative process

This toolkit has been saved 1 time.

Reference Panels, also known as Citizens' Assemblies, Commissions and Juries, are an example of long-form deliberative processes that are frequently used by governments and public agencies to obtain detailed guidance on important and sometimes controversial policies.
Based on the publisher's experience with reference panels, they offer eight moves from their playbook to help others plan their own deliberative process.

Champion CHAMPION:
Can be remixed


Discipline or practice

Open Government

About this resource







Date Published


CC BY-NC-SA Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


Web-based resource

See cases from others doing this in government

Go to case studies

Find experts and advisers who can assist me with this

Go to advice

Other toolkits related to Open Government

2 reviews for "The Reference Panel Playbook: Eight moves for designing a deliberative process"

  1. This toolkit provides governments and public agencies with methods to plan a deliberative process with a Reference Panel (referring to Citizens’ Assemblies, Commissions and Juries). In eight moves, the toolkit helps stakeholders use Reference Panels as a support to public authorities and elected officials to make informed decisions meeting popular needs, allowing policies to gain in support, efficiency, and inclusivity.
    The main advantages of this toolkit is its clarity and concision ; it is extremely easy to use and does not require any previous knowledge in designing deliberative processes, guiding the policymaker from step to step (definition, recruitment, hosting the assembly, time and money, to only name a few).
    “Play #5 – Create a curriculum” was particularly suitable for my team and I when reflecting on a list of elements to be prepared and communicated to the members of our own panel, as it helped us focusing on three main elements (“social learning”, “process learning” and “content learning”), which was extremely useful in framing our brainstorming. In spite of its apparent simplicity, this toolkit allows policymaking’s stakeholders to get straight to the point and efficiently develop suitable tools.

  2. Sean Currie says:

    This toolkit is developed by MASS LBP, an organisation whose entire work is directed at helping its clients to engage in public democratic consultative processes. We therefore had high expectations for the toolkit’s purpose, of successfully designing a reference panel. As highlighted in the first sentence of the toolkit, Reference Panels are otherwise known as Citizens’ Assemblies, Commissions, or Juries.

    The toolkit uses the exceptionally simple and usable format of a website in the style of a ‘listicle’ blog. For anyone who is entirely new to designing a deliberate process, this is exactly the entry-level toolkit that will help. Not only is the format easily navigatable – running through eight tips, each with an easily understandable title – but the language is also comfortingly accessible – avoid any unnecessary jargon and explaining terms when needed.

    The content is all centred around advice in designing reference panels, and the advice is clearly followable, including the following 8 elements:
    “Define the task”
    “Plan your response”
    “Ensure independence and balance”
    “Recruiting participants”
    “Create a curriculum”
    “Involve the wider public”
    “The host and facilitation team”
    “Time and money”
    The advice given is clearly actionable and allows the user to clearly envision what is to come. For example, in the “time and money” section, they provide clear guidance on the potential cost and timeline from the organisation’s own (presumably vast) experience.

    It must be noted, however, that the toolkit strength is also its weakness. It is simple and understandable, which means it is relatively shallow and lacking in detail. This toolkit alone will not be sufficient for anyone comprehensively organising a reference panel. Indeed, its shallowness is such that lack clarity on a number of things. For example, it does not defineterms such as “policy context”, which may be widely used, but also have many different possible interpretations.

    In terms of additional potential content, the toolkit could have included “mistakes to avoid”, or a detailed look at some case studies to draw inspiration from and help create an even clearer vision. They also could have suggested a wider range of methods than those included. However, it is notable that each of the areas covered could have its own toolkit much longer than the one here, and to add more would be to sacrifice its simplicity.

    We used the toolkit in the process of designing a reference panel for public administration as an academic exercise. None of us had a background in the topic, and this toolkit proved useful. However, even in our task, which was relatively uncomplex and not hugely detailed, we required the use of a second resource in order to complete a sufficient design.

    In summary, then, this is an exceptionally useful “starter” toolkit for anyone designing a reference panel, but it will need to be supplemented by additional research or expertise.

Add your review

Have you used this toolkit? If so, what did you use it for and how did it work? What are its strengths and limitations? Share your experience so others can learn from you.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *