ABOUT COMMON GROUND
We are a strategic—small business—consulting firm working globally to create spaces for people from diverse backgrounds
and experiences to come together, build trust, define areas of shared interests, and achieve transformational outcomes.
For almost 30 years, we have been providing market-proven consulting services to governments, foundations, private sector
and community-based organizations, school districts, entrepreneurial start-ups, and universities
IMPROVING THE LIVES OF YOUTH & VULNERABLE GROUPS
ACHIEVING ROOTED DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
LEADING TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE PROCESSES
BUILDING HEALTHY ORGANIZATIONS & LEARNING NETWORKS
WHAT MAKES US, US
There sure are a lot of consultants out there these days. We’re different than almost all of them.
We Want to Fall In Love With You
This may sound a little crazy. But, it’s true. We work with clients whose values align with ours. We work with clients whose work inspires us. We work with clients who are fighting to strengthen communities, end poverty, prevent violence, stop climate change, protect workers, create food security, end corruption, and reform government. We want to be your partner in that work; not experts on your issues—you’ve got that covered. What we bring to the table is a commitment to helping your organization achieve better results and greater impact and we will do that by investing our hearts and minds in your people, your mission, and your outcomes.
We Believe Every Client and Each Engagement Is Fundamentally Unique
We approach every engagement with a clean slate and an open mind; and we’ve carefully defined our thoughtful S.T.A.R.T. Process™ to help ensure that we are all on the same page as we begin our work together. We use flexible processes and creative tools and we carefully assemble the right team to meet the specific demands of your project. We don’t believe in cookie cutter approaches or “copy-paste” strategies.
We Believe In Building Trust and Delivering Outstanding Results
We are agile, nimble, and committed to building high-trust relationships so that we can support you in a way that strengthens your foundation and makes you more sustainable. We are constantly evolving our tools, expanding our sector knowledge, digging into best practices, and imagining and innovating leading-edge approaches. And, we’re doing that to improve efficiency and help you achieve greater impact, not foster your dependence on consultants.
We Believe That Leading Edge Innovation Is Powered By Connectors
We believe societies are organized around groups of people who share a particular affinity: geography, religion, values, age, race, or gender, for example. These groups organize paradigms of thought about how the world works. These paradigms then become the defining ways in which members of communities relate to one another. When a new idea takes root (think unionization or climate action), the success or failure of that idea depends on whether it can cross through multiple circles; and this depends on whether there are connectors who can make that happen. Common Ground is a connector.
The scope and scale of our work is constantly expanding and we would love to work with you!
If you have a few minutes, click on the pictures below and check out some of our recent projects.
OUR ROCKSTAR CLIENTS
Our diverse client portfolio includes 250+ organizations and businesses, dozens of colleges and universities,
30+ foundations and consulting firms, and a wide variety of governments and their ministries and agencies.
As a small business, our international practice prioritizes Global South issues
and we’ve worked in 33 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
As you facilitated our conference last week, in your Zoom window, you reminded me of someone familiar. But it wasn’t until last night did it dawn on me! You reminded me of Mr. Rogers. The manner in which you sat comfortably, in this very warm looking chair, at times being very supportive and nurturing; yet at other times, challenging what we may know and how we may understand something. Just like Fred Rogers. Thank you for creating spaces for dialogue and accountability while we learned; and for moving effortlessly between playfulness and earnestness.
The Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC) would like to thank Craig and the team at Common Ground for helping us to navigate the season of racial and ethnic tension accentuated by the political triggers of the 2020 General and Regional Elections here in Guyana. We would particularly remember the support provided when the young people and the country as a whole grieved the gruesome murder of the young men—Joel Henry, Isaiah Henry and Haresh Singh—on the West Coast Berbice corridor. It is in their memory that the GNYC willingly pens this recommendation. On behalf of the young people in Guyana, we would extend a magnanimous Guyanese “thank you” to Craig and Common Ground for assisting the GNYC to strengthen our advocacy in building a culture of peace at a grassroots level.
Craig is an extremely talented facilitator and we have benefitted from his extensive expertise in youth advocacy and peacebuilding. He played a central role in helping our team promote a culture of peace in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, where violence is the leading cause of death among youth.
His contributions include facilitating the development of a youth-driven advocacy agenda outlining the violence prevention priorities of young people across more than seven Caribbean countries. To turn these ideas into action, Craig delivered an advocacy training course that primed 150 young leaders and youth-serving professionals to create positive change at all levels.
He also designed an innovative workshop that built the capacity of communities to encourage dialogue and inclusion in Guyana as ethnic tensions were rising.
In general, he is one of our go-to trainers and was quick to create and implement highly effective online learning strategies after the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person training [sessions] impossible. Craig impressed us all with the high quality of his work and his proactive approach. Follow up was never required. I was always grateful for his creativity, collaborative style, patience, and flexibility. He is definitely on my list of top consultants, though I really view him as a part of our team. I think we all do.
Craig – thank you so much for everything!
Craig Bowman and Common Ground Consulting did excellent work on multiple engagements in support of the USAID funded Community, Family and Youth Resilience Program’s (CFYR), efforts to reduce youth violence in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. Working with the CFYR program team and regional youth leaders from more than 7 countries, Common Ground supported the development of the Caribbean Youth Advocacy & Action Agenda on Violence Prevention, or AAA. The AAA represents what young people across the Caribbean believe it will take to effectively tackle their priority issues on crime and violence.
After the AAA was endorsed at the CFYR-hosted Regional Youth Summit in 2019, Craig and Common Ground designed a AAA Advocacy Toolkit, to provide youth, youth leaders, and those working with youth-serving agencies, the skills needed to effectively advocate on these priority issues. To upskill these participants, Craig and Common Ground designed and delivered two different training programs – a long course for youth and youth leaders, and a short course for those in youth-serving organizations – to ensure they were equipped to apply what the Advocacy Toolkit has to offer.
Working on short timeframes, and with requirements sometimes changing very close to delivery of a product, Craig and Common Ground did whatever was required to ensure that programming would be delivered on time, and of the highest quality. Common Ground takes great care to ensure that they’re delivering what their client requires and always ensures that they deliver substance and quality. I would welcome the opportunity to work with Craig and Common Ground Consulting on future engagements.
When our organization, the Commonwealth Prevention Alliance (State College, PA), decided to move our 30th Annual Conference to an online event, we were so fortunate to be led by Craig Bowman and his team at Common Ground Consulting. They have revolutionized online conferences, allowing us to provide valuable training and networking sessions during a time when these opportunities are being postponed or cancelled.
After participating in a few of our planning meetings, Craig had a great feel for our conference layout, attendee needs, and our desire to maintain high-quality relationships with all presenters. Craig is so insightful with a broad range of national and international experience. Our conference sessions consisted of a perfect mix of pre-recorded videos, prepared by the presenters, followed immediately by a live question and answer segment. This arrangement provided more interaction and engagement between speakers and attendees than we could have ever planned with an in-person event. The Common Ground team also handled all technological needs including editing and preparing the presenter videos, setting up the conference web page, and being live with us during the entire conference to handle any issues. The “conference hub” on our website provided a one-stop page for all attendees to review session descriptions, speaker bio’s, resources, links to join, and evaluations.
Behind the scenes, I was so pleased and impressed with the preparation, communication, and assistance provided to the speakers and conference attendees. Craig and his team offered a very effective training for the presenters to provide guidance on recording their videos while making them feel comfortable with the session design. They were very receptive to the needs of our presenters and attendees, which was very important to us.
I enthusiastically recommend and encourage anyone planning an event or conference to reach out to Craig Bowman, at Common Ground Consulting. Craig and his team are professional, prepared, compassionate, progressive, and have a great understanding of how people learn online. This isn’t your ordinary virtual conference or webinar. This is so much better – engaging, effective, interactive, and very conducive to educating participants.
In addition to being incredibly professional, Craig and his team at Common Ground are truly wonderful, caring people. They listened to our needs, had great advice, and planned accordingly. It was such an honor to work with them and I look forward to collaborating again in the near future. reward to continuing our relationship with Common Ground Consulting and without hesitation will trust their guidance and direction in any future venture.
At such an uncertain time, and in midst of final planning stages of our in-person annual Commonwealth Prevention Alliance (CPA) Conference to be held in State College, PA, Common Ground enters the picture and removes every ounce of apprehension in transforming the multi-day learning experience to an online event.
Led by Craig Bowman, Common Ground went to great lengths to ensure the CPA experience was not just another webinar or series of webinars! Their amazing team creatively intertwined live and pre-recorded sessions, social/networking events, contests, and even prizes into keynotes and workshops! Yes, they made us (a group of 402 prevention professionals) fall in love with online learning! Who would have thought?!
Command Ground covered every minute detail; even hosting a practice room the day before the live conference so participants knew how to navigate the system before the first actual workshop session. Undoubtedly, we contribute the success of our 30th annual conference to Craig and his team. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Common Ground Consulting and without hesitation will trust their guidance and direction in any future venture.
Craig and his team at Common Ground were instrumental in the success of our first-ever virtual conference.
When the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the option for our traditional in-person annual conference, Craig and his team instinctively took the reins with a short window of time and seamlessly transformed it into a dynamic virtual format. Craig’s confidence and ingenuity eliminated any concerns we had as he effortlessly guided us throughout every step of the process. We immediately knew we could trust him and his team of experts, and they did not disappoint!
Each member of the Common Ground team was highly effective in their skill-set – unmatched by anything I’ve experienced in 13 years of event planning. The professionalism, adaptability, creativity, and technical-know-how were just TOP NOTCH, to say the very least. It was evident they are truly leaders in conference virtualization!
Additionally, it needs to be noted that Craig is also an outstanding presenter! Amidst all of his hard work managing his team and conference production, he was able to pull together an incredible keynote presentation to open our conference which was highly acclaimed and continues to be discussed as the “highlight of the conference”. He truly is a renaissance man of the modern era!
I cannot recommend Craig and this Common Ground team enough. I truly hope to work with this fantastic group of people again in the future!
WOW! I am just blown away by the conference [designed by Common Ground]. From the quality of the organization and preparation of the conference committee and Common Ground, in addition to the outstanding presentations that everyone provided this week, things were top notch. As both a presenter and attendee, I was so pleasantly surprised at seeing the chat box interaction throughout. You found ways to engage [online] conference participants in authentic, deep, and also funny and light ways. I really appreciate the opportunity to take part in the conference, and look forward to seeing what you do in the future.
Craig is a consummate professional and has provided enormous support to our development project goals related to: strategic planning, team building, stakeholder engagement, goal setting, communications, and conflict resolution for newly formed judicial and civil society organisations. He also managed the development and implementation of 360 degree feedback programs and supported the design of national user surveys to support strategic planning.
Over the course of nearly two years, Craig and his team have proven themselves to be high energy, high output, and results oriented—often providing time and attention well beyond expectations. Craig assimilates easily into organisations and teams and is a delight to work with overall.
Craig Bowman provided process design and facilitation support to one of our Organisational Development partners, a network of more than 20 civil society organisations across the globe. As every OD specialist will tell you, working with networks can be very difficult and this assignment was a particularly complex one.
Craig took on the challenge and invested all of himself into it, sparing no effort. He progressively built trust and credibility with the group, till he was able to lead them to an outcome that met their respective needs and provided them with the renewed vision and shared purpose they were longing for. Craig is a skilled facilitator that has great courage and integrity, I will gladly work with him again.
Craig Bowman facilitated a multiple-day strategic planning meeting and training workshop … that consisted of team-building workshops and substantive legal training for over 50 personnel … [He] was instrumental in collaborating with and guiding senior leadership to develop the goals of the meeting, the roles of various members of the section in the meeting, and substance of the trainings and workshops …
[Mr. Bowman] also served as the facilitator during the two and a half days of the meeting. He faced the challenge of managing a large group of legal professionals with varying degrees of enthusiasm and skepticism for the meeting. He guided small team building activities targeted at both networking with colleagues and reflecting on the culture and mission of the section as a whole.
Mr. Bowman quickly grasped the challenges facing the section, and maintained flexibility in the schedule for items that required more time. He ensured that there was ample time for feedback and discussion amongst employees, while achieving the subject matter objectives of the meeting. And he did so with an understanding of the constraints of governmental organizations, both in his willingness to work within our budget and our budgeting and invoicing process. In short, we were very pleased with Mr. Bowman’s skills as a consultant and facilitator.
For over a year Craig facilitated a very complex virtual process within our global network with colleagues from over 20 countries, culminating in an in person retreat where we had to make difficult decisions to revise our purpose and structure.
Craig was creative, energetic, directive when he needed to be, and designed and led an amazing process that helped us reach a final outcome everyone was happy with. (And remember the joy we feel at being together!) We are forever indebted to Craig for his engagement with our Network – he helped us get “unstuck” after many years of entrenched bad habits an ineffective structure. Thank you Craig!!
Craig has worked as an expert and consultant for three MCC- and USAID-funded programs that I also worked for. After my first time working with Craig on the MCC project in Albania, I hired Craig to work for my organization’s projects in Azerbaijan and Macedonia. He is truly an exceptional expert and person to work with. He delivers high quality, interesting training and mentoring that makes an impact on a wide variety of issues.
In Albania, we hired him to work with local CSOs on advocacy and capacity development; in Azerbaijan and Macedonia, we hired him to develop the program and provide training and mentoring for our youth leadership programs there. All the local partners—CSOs and youth, as well as field office staff—had only the highest praise for Craig.
I supervised his work for our programs in the three above-mentioned countries and I found Craig to be very responsive to our needs and ideas, very good at meeting deadlines, and very understanding and respectful of local partners/beneficiaries. Craig knows this: anytime that we need his type of expertise, we go to him first, as he is truly one of the top experts that we have ever engaged.
Craig facilitated a pivotal two-day retreat for our office in the wake of a re-organization and significant cuts to staffing and budget. He agreed to work with us on short notice, just a few weeks out from the event, when our original facilitator unexpectedly had to cancel, but you would never have known it. In a very short time, Craig worked with staff to understand where we were and where we needed to go, and crafted a retreat agenda that was appropriately calibrated to process what we had been through, build trust and make thoughtful decisions about how to move forward.
While we could not address everything we needed to in those two-days, Craig’s respectful, empathetic and challenging facilitation laid the groundwork for us to confidently continue on our own. It was truly a turning point in the change management for our office when we went from feeling resentful and anxious to being energized, positive and forward-looking. I can’t thank Craig enough.
Our original request was for a facilitator at our 3 day offsite – but Craig and his team did much more than just show up for the event. Prior to the offsite, Craig invested significant time learning and digesting the history and culture of our organization; he helped our entire leadership team think through critical issues; he spent hours and hours checking the temperature and getting feedback from the staff; he thoughtfully challenged us with his insightful questions, and ultimately helped to narrow and clarify the issues.
When the day of the offsite arrived, Craig and his team were prepared with a robust agenda, but more importantly were willing and able to quickly adjust the schedule given the events of the first day. Overall, Craig and his team were an invaluable asset to both the leadership team and the staff. It was pleasure to work with Common Ground Consulting!
I got to meet Craig in 2014 through the USAID Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Agriculture Activity Consulting Academy in Uganda organized by Chemonics. His approaches, guidance, level of commitment and flexibility transformed my outlook of consulting services in institutional development. Since our first encounter, my experience and approaches to institutional development have never been the same. Thank you Craig for the wealth of knowledge you have and selfless way in which you share it. The resources you develop and share are invaluable.
As a 26-year-old woman planning to venture into a business on her own, the meeting with Craig in 2014 changed my perception on possibilities, showing me that the world in which I wanted to make my mark could be made smaller, and thus my positive impact on it made bigger, with the right kind of information.
During a leadership training, he was not only knowledgeable, but made this knowledge fascinating by infusing modern technology, statistics, and quotes to make for a unique learning experience. He was technologically savvy; his ease with the latest tools and software made me believe that the future is mine for the taking.
Indeed, I have slowly begun to take my future into my own hands, and, by applying this knowledge, have made positive impacts in the lives of Ugandan small businesses! Craig is that individual who will make you giddy to seek knowledge and show you how to acquire such knowledge at the click of a button. Then, if you are like me and use what he has taught and demonstrated, you become a citizen of the world–even from a country as tiny as Uganda.
Craig is especially skilled at getting groups to find common ground, build consensus and enhance their teamwork—natural extensions of his ability to relate well with others and bring a positive approach to difficult work. He excels at consulting tasks because of his ability to connect his knowledge and passion to the concerns, values, and needs of his clients.
We met with Craig in December 2016 where he was invited to share his experience and knowledge in consulting for our Pool of Trainers of the National Youth Council of Macedonia. He held an outstanding three day course for 20 youth trainers who were given valuable tips that can enhance their work. Additionally, Craig established the pillars of the LEAD Fellowship Program that in the next four years will engage 80 young fellows that will be actively engaged in their communities.
He created the methodology for the 7-day residential training for the first [two] cohorts of youth fellows. His training methods are interactive, understandable, values-based, and very inspiring. His training methodology and philosophy will be the foundation of the next generations of LEAD Fellows. He is very professional, open for discussion, and always gives advice and useful tips. We were very honored that we were able to work with a highly valuable experienced professional and a very modest man.
One of the brightest and most creative people you will ever meet. Passionately committed to enhancing the potential of people all around the world. Focused, driven, technically first class, innovative, patient and compassionate–a combination you will rarely if ever find. Being in a workshop room with Craig is a life changing experience.
The Young Farmers Coalition of Uganda (YOFACO) hails Mr. Craig Bowman for the great work you have done to enable us to become a strong young farmers’ organization in Uganda; you were a lead person in our formation and building our capacity. Your training on leadership, governance, policy, advocacy, communications and financial management enabled us to come up with a productive strategic plan that enabled us to deliver on the organization’s goals.
All we can say about you is that ‘We are because you are.’ Keep creating change wherever you go as you have done for us here, the world needs people like you who want to see every life turn into a successful one through sharing with them the knowledge and experience you have.
Craig helped our diverse team better appreciate the value of communications and embracing change, enabling us to really benefit from what he calls “the economics of trust.” He made an impact in just one session for us, breaking through some real challenges for our team, but of course with those kind of results we’ve turned to him for more. Craig’s a pleasure to work with: personable, professional, flexible, and–most important–effective.
Although a relatively small government office, we’ve suffered from long-term leadership gaps and substantial personality conflicts. As change is often slow or rare in the public sector, we approached our team-building workshop with a healthy dose of skepticism. What we got was a delightful and intelligent facilitator in Craig; a skillful series of directed discussions about the 800 pound elephant in the room; just the right amount of innovative support materials to open up and inspire the team when attention faded; and emergence of a committed team by the end of the day.
It was the most worthwhile team-building exercise I’ve ever been a part of and our entire team was simultaneously astounded and grateful at how effective Craig was in facilitating discussions of sensitive but critical issues and dealing with a wide array of personalities along the way.
Craig is the consummate professional. He is a pleasure to work with because of his commitment to delivering the best possible work regardless of the circumstances, his willingness to be flexible and work within the constraints of the project, and his great sense of humor and personality. I always appreciate his honesty and candor, and I have learned a great deal from him over the years.
Child Helpline International has worked with Craig Bowman several times over the past four years. With each assignment, Craig has gained our trust, delved into our organisation and assessed our needs, then taken us through the most engaging and well prepared sessions with real and lasting outcomes. I defy anyone who works with Craig to not be impressed by the force of his intelligent approach and unique solutions to organisational challenges. I highly recommend Craig and Common Ground Consulting.
We hired Craig to deliver a keynote address and skill development workshop for our annual conference in 2012. Craig delivered with outstanding results and is someone that we will work with again in the future. Feedback about him in evaluations completed by attendees was very specific and confirmed that he was engaging and compelling and shared information that was meaningful to those in the audience.
He prompted individuals to reflect on their current practices while offering ideas and tools to help them improve results (outcomes) and take their work to the next level as is so important in todays changing and complex world. I recommend Craig highly as a most competent, charismatic and poised professional who has a depth of knowledge in his speciality and content areas that is remarkable.
Craig is the most talented management consultant and coach I have ever worked with. He is perceptive and personable. He works with each organization, and adapts to their needs. He is genuine, and does not rely on management consultant-speak and generic tools. I highly recommend Craig and Common Ground Consulting.
ITDP tripled in size in three years. It was causing a lot of stress. Even though our organization isnt that big, its extremely complicated, with field offices in seven countries. People’s job descriptions were no longer clear, our administrative systems were not built for an organization of that size, our staff were primarily advocates and technical experts, not managers, and staff morale was falling.
I am not sure we could have found someone better able to first understand the complicated dynamics of our mission-driven organization, then help us sort out our administrative and management structures in a way that was sympathetic to the people and the mission, and finally to make the tough decisions about the new management structures. We were very happy with Common Ground’s work.