City of Guelph Roundtables

City of Guelph Roundtables

The City of Guelph is experimenting with different methods for developing policies, programs, and services. The City asked the Guelph lab to support a series of “Roundtables”. During Summer 2015, staff from Corporate Services and the Office of the CAO held a series of events to ask City staff about a range of challenges faced by the Corporation – from employee engagement to managing physical infrastructure (“assets”) and the City budget process. Teams are worked to address three of the eleven topics identified. Remaining topics will be addressed by future “tables.”


The City’s current Strategic Plan set a goal for “transformation” in the administration of local government. It identified two key areas of focus: organizational excellence in local government (a streamlined, agile and recognized top employer); and, innovation in local government (improved program and service delivery methods and practices). The Roundtables build from experiences with public participation in By-Law review/renewal, and are closely linked with organizational development initiatives related to project management, facilitation and service design.

Who We’re Working With

  • 3 roundtables; approximately 12 staff members per “table” drawn from a range of departments
  • CAO’s office; responsible for coordinating and supporting the tables
  • Political Science at U of G; providing student research support on participatory democracy and public sector administration
  • Research Shop; graduate students provide research on questions identified by roundtables


  • Developmental evaluation; an approach to evaluation designed to support innovation and on-going development
  • Service journey mapping; using ethnographic research methods to build a deeper understanding of and empathy for service “users”
  • Engaged Research; community-university collaborations that serves a community need
Project Partner(s): 
City of Guelph