Meeting process
From: vanilla (
Date: Sun, 5 Jun 94 11:53 CDT
I learned meeting process at the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association 
and the discussion here is quite familiar.  It's neat to be involved with 
a group or a movement of people who have kindred ideas on what meetings 
are about and how to run them.  I have been involved at my company in 
starting an employee group, and I have served as the meeting facilitator. 
It really irked me more than I ever realized when someone complimented me 
by saying he's impressed with how I seem to have an amazing "intuitive" 
ability to run meetings without any formal training.  At the time I let 
this pass without correcting him, because we were talking about something 
else I was interested in.  But as I say, the comment stayed with me and I 
found myself at a later meeting feeling unappreciated because someone 
else was complaining the group had not yet developed any "structure" and 
some similar comments.  The truth is, the group is just in its infancy 
and it has a long way to go, and many improvements would be great, but I 
think many people just don't appreciate the discipline and order involved 
in creating a strong group through consensus decision making.  Far from 
being just "intuitive," I am good at facilitating this process because of 
years of learning and practice, and many long discussions like the one on 
this network, not to mention many long, long, long and sometimes 
unpleasant, sometimes exhilarating meetings! 
    So I am just releasing a bit of that frustration here.
    Re: check-ins and check-outs taking too long:  I think that as a 
group works together, one of the most satisfying developments (for me) is 
the increase in trust and decrease in the need to talk or swagger 
verbally just for its own sake.  I personally like to see meetings run 
along efficiently, and start and end on time if possible.  This gets 
easier as members see how satisfying it is to accomplish things together 
and feel that they don't have to speak on every issue for their views to 
still be considered vital.  Discussions can move along very, very quickly 
when it turns out that everyone agrees, if people have developed enough 
trust in the group.  Check-ins and check-outs can also go quickly if 
people feel that the group knows them well, and bring up only those 
things that are needed to contribute to that meeting.  In a business 
meeting (as opposed to a therapy group) I prefer not to have a check-in 
at all, but instead to launch right in to business, and hear from folks 
as they make their reports. 

 Gareth Fenley
 Atlanta, Georgia

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