The Planning Desk works with public issues and ideas. We bring together creative strategists, researchers and designers to improve the character, quality and efficacy of citizen-state interactions. We work to imagine bold transformations, provide strategic insight, build lasting relationships, and communicate new possibilities with cogency, clarity and impact.


Recently, we partnered with The Students Commission of Canada and Student Vote to design and execute the first parallel Citizens' Assembly designed specifically for young people. The Students' Assembly on Electoral Reform — returning the same recommendation as the adult Citizens' Assembly — is widely recognized as an innovative and successful model for youth civic engagement.

We've also been working with the British Design Council's public service unit and British minister Ed Miliband to think about the interface between people and politicians. This summer we're helping establish the new Institute of Canadian Citizenship, led by former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, and create a new role for Canadians in an expanded citizenship ceremony.

We've also been engaged in a program of work that asks searching questions about the future of responsible government, about the viability of political parties, and about the possibility of 're-inventing government' (again) by identifying new watchwords like 'ease,' 'efficacy' and 'personability' that can help governments meet public expectations.

Later this year, we’ll be publishing with the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy a new index of political efficacy and identity. We think it’s important to know more about how politicians see themselves and understand the work they do.

We’re working with our friends at the British think tank Demos and the British Council to learn more about the role of Muslim communities in Canada and the UK.

We've helped Canada's Privy Council Office search out the 'low road to democratic reform', providing it with new options and ideas for building public confidence in our political institutions. And while keeping our partisan distance, we recently authored a renewal commission task force report on civic engagement.

We continue to think about how students at the Kaospilots, an award-winning school of business design and social innovation in Denmark, can fine-tune their radar screens to pick up the weakest signals of emerging global trends. We recently had a hand in bringing them to Vancouver.

We've been talking about diasporas and diversity in Toronto and a set of 'alternative federalisms' for Canada fifty years out. Every so often you'll find us in Finland thinking about creative infrastructure, or on Wolfe Island imagining a playful platform without a party and establishing the state has a role in helping to secure and defend the creative capacity of citizens.

Last year, we were in Vancouver, British Columbia helping to build a programme that is changing the way people think and talk about the future of their province.

Sometimes we toy with the idea of a mobile parliament.

Nothing matters more than good people and the chance to do good work.


Design to think, prototype to understand.

Jane Jacobs wrote that 'the look of things and the way they work is inextricably bound together'. So don't split form from function. Style and content are synonymous. We resist the distinction between thinking and doing and take design as the bridge that makes praxis possible.

Learning is iterative and experiential.

We work to learn and we work to help others learn. We know learning doesn't happen all at once — for either a person or a public. It takes time. It takes space and it also takes different approaches and skills. That's the reason that we keep evolving.

Question false necessities.

Several years ago the legal theorist Roberto Unger wrote a book called "False Necessity" and as a title it's as good a summary as any we've seen for the traps and dependencies that limit our imaginations.

Find common ground, keep common ground.

You have to start somewhere and someplace shared is probably better than anywhere else. This means that we try not to play zero-sum games. It's not all or nothing, good guys or bad. We work to build momentum by building understanding.

Drink widely.

Influences matter. We drink widely from across disciplines and continents in order to think widely and create value for our friends, partners and clients.


The Planning Desk is led by Peter MacLeod with assistance from a range of associates and partner organizations in North America and Europe.

The Globe and Mail says that Peter MacLeod has a 'weird dream' that involves the Parliament of Canada rolling down the Trans-Canada Highway. It's a relief that they go on to say he's also responsible for 'one of the most intriguing studies of Canadian democracy in action ever undertaken.'

His work addresses three principal interests: the citizen's experience of the state, the vitality of our public imagination and the future of responsible government.

A former researcher at the British think tank Demos and a former member of the business development team at the American business magazine Fast Company, he now writes and speaks frequently on policy, democratic reform and design. He is a visiting lecturer at the Kaospilots School of Business Design and Social Innovation in Denmark, a Fellow at the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy and is completing his doctorate in political sociology at the London School of Economics.

In 2004, he was named an inaugural Action Canada fellow.

In 2007, he founded a sister company, MASS LBP, that is working with governments and public sector organizations to create new legitimacy for public action.

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We're always scouting good clients and good work -- we're particularly interested in those ideas and issues with a public dimension, requiring renewed public imagination.

Call us:

In Canada: 416.833.3194
In Britain / Europe: +44(0)795.235.3222

Or write: hello [at]