How we work

At The Workshop we have a unique work process, a 'think-and-do' mix of listening, learning, framing, sharing and training all of which provides a foundation for other people and organisations to do more effective communication, community engagement and advocacy.  

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1. What matters.

First, we establish what matters to New Zealanders and the outcomes they want by connecting and listening to a wide range of people, especially those most affected by an issue.

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2. What to do about it.

Second, we distill the best evidence to establish what is effective and what to do, exploring solutions at the systems level.

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3. How to talk about it.

Third, we establish how to talk about it. Research shows that facts alone won’t change people’s beliefs or actions. At The Workshop we use science to understand how to reframe the conversation to help people understand and support the solutions that work and motivate people to act. We call this the science of storytelling.

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4. Share the tools.

Fourth, we share our tools with others. Engaging the public with what we have discovered, and training other experts and advocates in how to engage in the science of storytelling.

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5. Make the change.

Finally, the entire Workshop process lays strong foundations for those who want to more effectively speak up and speak out about what needs to change locally and globally. Changes in expert communications lead to changes in the public conversation, which influences how people think, and ultimately to policy change.

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6. Start over again.

This process is iterative, so once we complete the process on one topic, we begin again, listening and learning about what matters to people in New Zealand.


How we're funded 

We are a charitable trust that exists for public good. Our funding model is mixed to avoid over reliance on any one funder: it includes philanthropic support, commissioned work, training and public donations/membership. If you are interested in becoming a member, you can find out more here.

To ensure independence from our funders our trust deed specifies that funders may discuss research questions but may not be involved in determining research outcomes or setting recommendations.

We currently receive funding from the following groups:

The Workshop is co-directed by Marianne Elliott and Jess Berentson-Shaw, supported by a group of associates including Max Harris and Morgan Godfery, and guided by an Advisory Group of Trustees made up of Shamubeel Eaqub, Julie Fry, Max Harris and Laura O’Connell Rapira. See more about our people.