RE: governance structure
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 94 14:46 CDT
Monika Stumpf, Monterey CoHousing asked:
>Question now is:  what does your
>structure look like  when you have a nominal board.  What's underneath?  I
>suspect a list of committees/task forces, but do you still have something
>like a committee of the whole which makes final decisions based on the
>input of the people who have checked the issue out?

At Sharingwood our governance works like this.

The board handles issues about policy and legality. They are also the 
coordinators of the committees and try to be sure that if two 
committees are working on related things that communication between 
committees happens.  The board also takes a big picture view and may 
suggest action items to the committees or form task forces.

The task forces and committees have autonomy to make decisions and take 
actions, as long as the decisions and actions fall under a certain 
pre-defined category. For example decisions or actions which affect the 
whole community, individuals property or, would be best confirmed by 
everyone are punted to the monthly meeting. It is up to the conscience 
of the committee to determine whether a decision goes to the large 
group or not.

If a decision or action needs big group consensus, it is required that 
a written description of the issue be published in the monthly 
newsletter.  It is then brought before the whole group at the next 
general meeting and we work through our consensus process.  If the 
issue needs substantial work for consensus it is passed back to the 
committee with input.

One of our problems continues to be that the agenda for committee 
meetings is typically not very well communicated so if a committee is 
dealing with something I care about and I don't hear about it, I'm 
potentially out of the decision loop.  From past history people have 
learned to consult certain individuals about actions and because I am 
one of those I personally am in touch with most of what is going on.  
Others are not and at times that has been a problem.  Our operating 
assumption is that individual members are responsible for asking about 
what is happening, not waiting and being told.  Although I agree with 
this, because that is my style, it does not work well for others.  
Minutes do get posted in the commonhouse but reading through such is 
pretty tedious and the quality of minutes is largely dependant on the 
note taker and some people do less thorough job of recording than others.

We do have committee reports at the general meeting but often that is 
well after the fact of a decision or action.

Rob Sandelin

  • governance structure School of Mathematics, U of MN, June 24 1994
    • RE: governance structure Rob Sandelin, June 24 1994

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