People demand authentic participation in decisions that affect their lives. ToP™ methods answer that call because they reflect how humans think, growing out of reflective inquiry into what works in real life and the study of phenomenology and existentialism. This book explores the foundational understandings of this body of knowledge and its practice.
Getting to the Bottom of ToP works at two levels: as a guide to processes that elicit participation to bring insights to the surface and ensure participants collaborate to bring the resulting plans to fruition and as a theoretical basis drawn from the field of phenomenology—an answer to any of us who have pondered what principles or theory about personal and group change underlie those processes.
—Peter J. Taylor, Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program, UMass Boston
I have longed for decades for this book, a profound and helpful exploration of the phenomenology of practice of ToP. In this breakthrough work, the Nelsons expose the philosophical foundations of the ICA’s ToP methods in ways that scholars and facilitators alike will find useful. By tracing ToP’s ancestry to the existentialist’s insights of Kierkegaard and Sartre and the phenomenological methods of Husserl and Heidegger, this book not only provides conceptual clarity but releases a deep wellspring of motivation and skillfulness for practitioners of ToP. I will definitely use this book in teaching my NYU Wagner grad courses on innovative leadership.
—Robertson Work, author of A Compassionate Civilization, NYU Wagner professor, and UN consultant