Re: group vision/goals
From: Nancy Wight (
Date: Thu, 5 May 94 13:03 CDT
>> ... "I don't care what the founders intended.  Our group is
>> different now".  ...
>> I agree that with the addition of members and the passage of time, 
>> a group must grow with the members and be flexible to change where
>> necessary, but if we as a *group* started incorporating everyone's political 
>> agendas we would never get a community built.  Also, since some of the 
>> founders
>> are still in the group, I see this as a breach of faith - that our
>> vision and goals don't count anymore, even though people agreed to them
>> when they became members.
>> I'm wondering if I'm totally off base here, or is this just one of the
>> hazards to starting a group - that what you could end up with is not what
>> you intended, despite your efforts to keep the original goals mostly intact.
>> - Nancy 

> This sounds like a very challenging situation.  It sounds like there is
> a potential for serious conflict.  I presume that your group is consensus-
> based.

Yes, it is.

> One of the problems I have with consensus process is that there is a
> tendency to ignore precedent and previous agreements.  Because
> hierarchical arragements tend to designate someone as the enforcer of
> agreements, people usually pay closer attention to what they've agreed
> to.  They know that there will be consequences.  In an egalitarian
> organization, no one wants to take on that role, there don't appear to
> be any consequences, and people's clarity can sometimes slip as a
> result.  This means that individuals have to monitor themselves.  It
> also means that when they don't, someone else within the group has to
> adopt the nay-sayer role or risk getting rolled over.  And that is
>_never_ comfortable.

> I _hate_ it when that happens.

I couldn't agree with you more.  This is personally my biggest problem
with consensus.  I've noticed that in our group, the clarity about what
consensus really is has eroded some, probably because we haven't spent
enough time lately on process-related issues.  

> My personal feeling is that when someone consents to something, they
> cannot capriciously back out of that commitment.  If they want to
> change their mind later on, that's simply too bad.  The group may want
> to ameliorate the person's problems with fulfilling their commitment.
> That's fine.  But an agreement is an agreement, whether it was made by
> active assent, tacit consent, or signifying action (e.g., buying a
> share).  So when new members consent to the vision statement in order
> to get in, they waive their right to change that vision statement--
> unless they can build a consensus among the rest of the community that
> to do so would be a good idea...

Again, what you say here makes sense to *me*.  We purposely kept the
group small in the beginning so that we could put together, among
other things, a vision/goals statement that would define the community
for people who wanted to join. 

> ... I believe that the "I don't care what the founders intended"
> remark was telling.  If it were me, I'd pursue that line until the
> person either came around to caring about that, or recognized her or
> his state of alienation with respect to the group and its vision.  I
> suspect that the issue of the person's alienation needs to be resolved
> before the vision statement can be meaningfully addressed...

This is a very good point.  I have been feeling for some time that this
person feels alienated around this issue, but have been too burned out
to deal with it myself.  We do have a process committee that looks into
these things.  Interestingly enough, this person has taken a leadership
role in getting the group vision revised.

> I hope some of this is helpful!
> -r

Yes, it has been very helpful!  Thanks for the feedback!

- Nancy

New View Neighborhood Development, Acton, MA

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