Building your agency's policy capacity

Hamilton Stone builds organisational capacity through workshops, professional development and advice for government organisations.

We work using different formats, depending on your needs, your audience and your budget. We might be assisting two or three staff in your section, or presenting at your conference or planning day, with a larger audience. Whatever the format, we can work with you to provide a solution.

Our people have delivered hundreds of conference presentations, training courses, speeches and workshops across dozens of subjects. We have depth of expertise in content and in delivery.

In what area does your organisation need to develop?

Here are some of our professional development offerings. If you want something different, ask and we quickly will be able to work out how to assist you.

engagement essentials

How should you go about stakeholder engagement, within or beyond your organisation?

We help identify your engagement needs, describe the range of ways you can engage stakeholders and the public, outline strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, and show you tools and resources that can help with engagement. We look at the differences between informing, consultation, participation and decision making. We explore the benefits and risks of engagement, and the latest thinking about how to do it effectively.

Establishing your policy position

Achieving change requires clear policy goals, clearly stated.

We describe processes for developing your policy ideas. We discuss ways to make the case for them, grounded in values, relationships, evidence, narrative, and credibility. We cover the strengths and limitations of evidence-based policy, and how to anticipate and engage with conflicting interests. It can include exploration of a case study or subject currently under consideration within your organisation.


Submission writing is important in almost all formal policy processes.

We cover all the preparation you need to do before a submission is written, such as understanding the audience, the politics and the objective; the writing of the submission, including tailoring key messages; and what needs to be done after making a submission, including how to judge what follow-up is needed, and how to maximise the return from the work that has been invested in it.


Policy co-design means developing policy through partnership between government and community.

We look at what co-design is, how it can work, tools such as Experienced-Based Co-Design that support it, political and administrative factors that influence its effectiveness, how to plan for co-design, and how to use it in your field of policy interest. Endorsed in Peter Shergold's recent Learning from Failure report, co-design can be a powerful tool. We explain how co-design requires cultural change to ensure successful delivery.

Working with members to plan advocacy

Advocacy on behalf of members can be a high-wire act.

We look at how to work on advocacy with members from Board level down, how to prepare for the planning, what to anticipate in order to avoid failure, and how to design to achieve success.


Evidence-based policy is promoted as good practice, but what does it mean, and how can it strengthen policy making in different settings?

We define evidence-based policy, explore the links between evidence and values, offer a range of methods that can be used to support evidence-based policy, including qualitative methods, and equip you to choose appropriate methods and ensure they are as effectively matched as possible to the political environment in which policy is being formed and implemented.

Deliberative engagement - taking consultation to a new level

Deliberative engagement places citizens at the heart of policy decision-making.

We describe deliberation in theory and practice, consider the settings in which it can be useful, political factors that have to be addressed if it is to succeed, and how to plan and implement deliberative engagement. Considered important by Peter Shergold in the Learning from Failure report, deliberative engagement can produce robust outcomes but needs careful design.

canvassing parliament: principles and practice

Shaping policy requires influence in the parliamentary sphere.

We help you understand how parliament works, identify potential points of access for your organisation, learn to engage with parliamentarians, make strategic choices around parliamentary engagement, and clarify how best to achieve your organisation's objectives.

How do you want us to help improve your performance?

We will customise the format to your circumstances, but here are three basic alternatives to give you some ideas.

Informing YOU

The focus is on providing you with ideas, information and advice. We give a presentation on a topic, including content relevant to your organisation, and have questions and discussion at the end.

Conversing with you

The focus is on taking ideas, information and advice and discussing how they apply in your organisation. We meet with you to plan content that reflects your needs. We then run a structured seminar for you, delivering content and working together to apply that in your situation.

Responding TO you

The focus is on developing your organisation’s capacity to apply new ideas and strategies to its work. We meet with you to plan a workshop customised to your objectives. We then run a structured workshop, delivering content and working with you to apply that in your situation. We will continue to work with you in the weeks afterwards, providing advice and support as you implement the ideas from the workshop in your organisation.