Perry is an innovator of participatory methods that anyone can use. Over the last ten years he has led the development of Democs, a conversation game, which provides a unique opportunity for small groups to find out about complex policy issues like climate change or nanotechnology, to shape and share their opinions, and to provide feedback for policymakers. Democs has attracted several thousand participants. Until 2011, he was head of the Democracy and Participation programme at nef (the new economics foundation).
More recently, he has created Open Up!, an A6 ‘argument map’ which folds out to A3. This provides a structured way of setting out the arguments on an issue so that people can come to an opinion even more quickly than with Democs.
He is currently evolving Policy Slam!, a two to three hour workshop format incorporating the consensus voting method. Consensus voting identifies that option which enjoys the most overall support. There are three stages. First, all join in a debate in which a list of options is drawn up. Secondly, there is a vote, with participants invited to rank these options according to their preferences. The higher the preference, the greater the number of points. Finally, the votes are counted. If there are six options on the ballot paper, and if a voter indicates a ranking for all six, then a first preference gets six points, a second preference five points, and so on. The winner is the option with the most points overall. He has also designed and facilitated numerous participatory projects including: future search conferences (usually for 64 people over two days); Imagine, a workshop-based visioning process using appreciative story-telling; and the People’s Café project, spreading discussion cafes to a range of people, including those with learning difficulties.
Perry has MAs in economics from Cambridge and from Birkbeck. He is on the board of Involve.
2011, Connected Conversations: Tackling big issues by linking small conversations, London: new economics foundation
2010, Crowdwise: Turning differences into effective decisions, London: new economics foundation