Re: Meeting strategies--check-out/Check
From: Pablo Halpern (
Date: Thu, 9 Jun 94 15:32 CDT
David Hungerford intended to post this to the list but sent it to me, 
instead. Since he didn't keep a copy, he asked me to re-post it:

Pablo Halpern asked (in a non-posted communication):

>I would love to do a check-out at every meeting. The question is, in the 
>middle of a hectic development process, how do you do a valuable check-out 
>without spending 45 to 60 seconds per person for a go-round?
>It seems to me that a simple word or sound is insufficient. I am not 
>interested in people just saying "good meeting" or "bad meeting."

Quite simply, everyone doesn't talk.  Rather than doing a round-robin or 
other process which, by its design, encourages everyone to talk *even 
though they are essentially saying the same thing others have said*, only 
those who feel they have something different/important to say speak up. 

Now, part of the reason this seems to work is that we have a group process 
that is nurtured by a "coordinating committee" who meet (in an open 
meeting) 1 week before each "general meeting" to set the agendas.  This 
committee (rotating membership) maintains a current agenda, and keeps 
rankings of agenda items so that they are dealt with as quickly as 
necessary.  Its members facilitate the general meetings.  They also make 
the judgement as to whether to send an issue which is brought to them back 
to a committee for more work before presentation to the group.  We consider 
our twice monthly general meeting time very valuable (not to imply that any 
meeting is invaluable) and it is the task of "Co-co" members to jealously 
guard that time so that we get the most done in the least time.  We don't 
have formal check-ins/check-outs at regular committee meetings, but the 
process at those meetings is less formal and so encourages input and 
participation.  Certainly a design meeting doesn't really need a 
check-in/check-out, especially if there is a forum for individuals to bring 
there concerns to, like our Co-co.  If something crops up in a general 
meeting that takes more than 5 minutes or so, the timekeeper/facilitator 
then asks, at the end of the alloted time, if the group wants to add time 
to the agenda to continue the discussion (a decision requiring consensus) 
or whether they (the coordinating committee) need to add the topic to a 
future agenda.  So, for most meetings, the check-out allows issues to be 
brought up, lets the rest of the group know when someone (or a group of 
someones) feels strongly about an issue, and lets the coordinating 
committee members know if there were problems with the way the meeting 
went, but it does not allow the discussion to take place then. It holds the 
discussion over for time on a future
>Would your method of check-out have the 
>desired effect on groups that don't live together yet?

I don't know, but it probably depends on how long the group has been 
together and how well they implicitly trust each other.  My memory of pre 
move in meetings is that it was therapeutic for everyone to have an 
opportunity to talk about almost every issue, even though there was much 
redundancy.  Maybe the stress of making life-changing decisions, and 
personally scary compromises, in order to move forward toward an abstract 
goal deserves lots of time for listening. Going on about color choices very 
often is not about color choices at all, but about control, and compromise, 
and fear, and personal expression and all the other emotions that come with 
doing cohousing.  But listening can be stressful too, especially when time 
is so valuable.  That's exactly why we developed (actually, this should be 
"are developing" because the process never stops) a more streamlined way of 
listening/talking.  And, I think its working.  It is respectful and 
trusting to NOT say something when your opinion/perspective has been pretty 
much expressed by others.  A simple "I feel pretty much like Eric does" is 
sufficient.  (Fellow Muir Commons residents are probably chuckling at this 
because I may be the least likely person in the group to keep my mouth hut; 
witness my long-winded responses in this forum)

I hope this helps, Pablo.

David Hungerford
Muir Commons Cohousing
dghungerford [at]

- Pablo

Pablo Halpern                          phalpern [at]
(508) 435-5274
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