Enforcing group agreements
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (RobsanExchange.MICROSOFT.com)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 12:50:29 -0500
Mel asked

>- How
>many people before you have to have "police" of some sort, making sure that
>rules are followed?
>Probably about 2. As soon as rules get flagrantly violated or something
>important gets ignored. It doesn't matter how many people there are
>altogether, what matters is that things you agreed to are not being done and
>so you need to deal with it.  If 100 all agree to cut their hair on Sunday,
>and 1 person does not, then the group should deal with it.  In my experience,
>if you do not deal with broken agreements right away and right up front, then
>you effectively have NO agreement.  You can make choices not to follow an
>agreement under certain conditions, or new situations will make you
>re-evaluate your agreement, but if you just ignore broken agreements you are
>creating a place where there can be no agreements, and where ALL agreements
>are potentially invalid. If agreements are never enforced or followed, whats
>the point of making agreements at all?  
>One the key elements of enforcing agreements is your sense of community and
>relationship to each other. When people break agreements they are risking the
>sense of community and also their relationship to others.  This is the most
>potential enforcement tool that you have.  "Hey Bill, you know everybody
>worked really hard to agree that we would only spank our kids on Friday
>night, and its really wrecking it for everybody else that you are spanking
>your kids on Saturday.  What can we do to help you get alignment with the
>rest of us  on this?"  This is kind of an extreme example of how to approach
>someone who is out of sync with a community agreement. However this only
>works if people care about the sense of community and their relationship to
>the others. If they don't care about the group, then you have little
>recourse.  If most people don't care about the group as a whole, it is likely
>much of the efforts by the few, will eventually fade away into just another
>As a cooperative endeavor you really need to commit to the group agreements
>and if you can't wholeheartly do that, then something is very wrong with the
>agreement or your sense of cooperative community. If people routinely blow
>off the group and the group rules, you are heading into a state of
>non-community where your only recourse to broken agreements is outside
>I understand that  some folks within cohousing do not want a close sense of
>community amoung their neighbors, they just want a tiny bit more than exists
>other places and so a state of non involvement by a large majority might
>work. However, I am not sure in this situation how you could ever have much
>success doing things as a group, such as community dinners, etc.
>Rob Sandelin

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