|Process||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: allenbutcher (allenbutcherjuno.com)|
|Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 17:58:24 -0700 (MST)|
Regarding process, I have the material following produced on a tri-fold brochure, that I could send to anyone interested, in PDF format. It is basic consensus meeting process information. Something I've been wondering about--Katie and Chuck wrote in the first cohousing book that, "Most cohousing groups try to use consensus as much as possible ...." In America we credit the Quakers with developing consensus process (somewhat inspired by Native American meeting process, but largely inspired by George Fox's writings in the 1600s, starting the Quaker church). Are there Quakers in Denmark? Allen PROCESS SERVICE * * Much of this material is from Resource Manual for a Living Revolution: A Handbook of Skills & Tools for Social Change Activists, 1985, Coover, Deacon, Esser, Moore, New Society Publishers (4527 Springfield Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19143 800/333-9093, $11). PROCESS SERVICE (PS): Teaches group facilitation, conflict resolution and consensus decision-making process, through its services to the group. TEAM FACILITATORS: The Process Service may have any number of members, referred to as the Process Team. It is best if the team or the entire group can meet before each meeting to set the agenda and to decide who the facilitator and note-taker will be, and again after each meeting to talk about how the facilitation was managed. Always include a short evaluation at the end of the meeting to get group feedback on the process. The group or Process Team divide among themselves the following roles: Greeters: Introduces new people to the organization's mission and group process. May become a separate education and recruitment committee for bringing new people into the organization. Process Observer/Time Keeper: Pays attention to compliance with the agreed upon process, including time limits. Watches for unexpressed feelings, tensions, and the need to call breaks. Notetaker: Records at least the meeting attendance, proposals, amendments, decisions, and task lists. May record details of discussions if desired. Facilitator: Takes suggestions for and asks for group agreement on the agenda. Encourages participation by "stacking" names for order of speaking, calls for "go arounds" and otherwise assures that everyone is heard. Helps the group resolve conflicts and find compromises by summarizing, repeating, or re-phrasing proposals and positions as necessary. Leads the group in refusing to permit verbal or other attacks or domination of the meeting. Remains neutral on all topics, and steps down when they wish to participate in issues. AGENDA CREATION: Items for the next meeting's agenda should be listed in the minutes of each meeting (whenever possible, along with date, time and place of the next meeting). Before the next meeting begins, the Process Team will create a Draft Agenda on large paper with items given to them, with each item listed including a presenter present at the meeting and a length of time for each item. After the "check-in" period at the start of the meeting, the facilitator will ask for any additions to and then for consensus on the agenda, with its item time limits. If an item begins to go over its allotted time, then the group must contract for an additional block of time to be used for that discussion, taking time away from other items. Alternatively, the group could table the issue, postponing it to another meeting, or until after all of the other issues are completed, perhaps extending the meeting to complete all items. (This process may seem awkward at first, but it can help to keep people conscious of keeping their comments short and to the point.) SAMPLE AGENDA: Before the meeting, while the Process Team creates the agenda, new people are greeted and oriented to the process. Designated facilitator calls the meeting. Agenda review and consensus. Facilitator 2-5 minutes Announcements and Committee Reports: Presenters 15 min. (These are quick reports, detailed issues are in Old or New Business agenda items.) Old Business: Items carried forward from earlier meetings. New Business: New issues and proposals. Task List: Confirmation of individually accepted tasks. Next Meeting: Agenda, Date, Time, Place. Evaluation: Go Around, or "Good, Bad and to be Improved." PROPOSALS: Items for whole group consensus should be brought to the meeting in writing, with enough copies for all. This assures that someone has done some detailed thinking about the issue. If the issue falls under the concern of a standing committee, that committee should work with it first, and then make the proposal to the whole group. SMALL GROUP TO LARGE GROUP CONSENSUS: Complicated issues, or issues proposed to a very large group, can begin with a brainstorm list of solutions made by the whole group. This group then breaks into smaller groups of 6 to 8 people, each of which develops its own proposal. These proposals are presented to the large group, which discusses them. Commonalities and disagreements are identified. Contested points are sent back to small groups until all issues are resolved. CONSENSUS PROCESS: The goal of the consensus process is to reach a decision with which everyone can agree, without resort to the win-lose decision-making process of voting. As a group process, consensus requires that each person places a higher priority upon the good of the group as a whole, with personal needs and wants being secondary. Proposals and decisions should be evaluated in terms of whether they are consistent with the stated goals and values of the group. Consensus does not necessarily mean unanimity. A group can proceed with an action without having total agreement. In the event that an individual or small group cannot agree with a given proposal and is blocking consensus, the facilitator may ask if the individual(s) are willing to "stand aside" and allow the group to act, or if they feel so strongly about the issue that they are unwilling for the group to act. If the individual(s) agree to stand aside, their disagreements can be noted in the minutes of the meeting, and the group is free to act on the decision. Blocking or "standing in the way of" a decision is used only when an individual feels that what is happening is going to have disastrous effects for the group (not for personal disagreement). Ways of objecting to a proposal without blocking consensus: NON-SUPPORT - "I don't agree, but I'll go along." RESERVATIONS - "I think this is a mistake because ..., but I'll live with it." STANDING ASIDE - "I personally can't do this, but I won't block others from doing it." WITHDRAWING FROM THE GROUP - "I will not be a part of this." If the individual(s) are not willing to stand aside, and state that they block action on the proposal, it becomes their responsibility to work for a compromise or substitute agreement. They and one or more others should leave the large group to work out a compromise to bring back to the whole group. This prevents the large group from getting stuck on one issue, and assures that the dissenters are concerned enough about the issue to work out a compromise. Alternatively, the issue could be postponed until later in the meeting, or until the next meeting, or the time allotted for this item could be extended if resolution is near. TESTING FOR AGREEMENT: When consensus on a proposal is sought, test for agreement as soon as a decision seems to be emerging. State the tentative consensus in question form: "Do we all agree that ..." and/or, "Is there anyone who does not agree that ..." and insist upon a response. Silence is not consent. If necessary, go around the room asking each person individually for support or reservation. Participants need to affirm the contract that they are making with one another. Specific wording of the agreement must be written in the minutes. For contentious issues, suggest a trial and review period or other limits as appropriate. If there is no agreement, ask for amendments and test for agreement on these amendments individually, then when all amendments are agreed upon, state the amended proposal and test for consensus on the whole proposal. The Process Observer can note when people are getting frustrated with the process, suggesting that a small group should work on the issue away from the large group, planning to bring their revised proposal back to the group at a later time. EMERGENCY DECISIONS: In the event that a decision must be made quickly for the group and no consensual agreement can be found, a process proposal may be made at any time by any group member that the issue be termed an Emergency Decision. 80% of members present must first vote that the issue is an Emergency Decision, and then a second vote is taken requiring a super-majority vote of 80% to pass the item. An Emergency Decision may also be one that a group member or committee makes (either by consensus or by super-majority voting) that affects the group, but that cannot wait for a full meeting. Care must be exercised in making such an Emergency Decision as a serious error in judgement may result in termination of the Service or Project, or other consequences determined by the group. Both kinds of Emergency Decisions must be brought back to a full meeting using its consensus process for full group agreement or reversal, or until the group refuses to place the issue on its agenda. CONFLICT RESOLUTION: 1. Define the problem in terms of individual's needs or preferences, not according to their solutions. 2. State the issue in a way that includes both sides' positions. 3. Brainstorm possible solutions, with no discussion. Continue until both sides identify more than one potentially acceptable solutions or elements of a solution. 4. Evaluate alternative solutions, or construct a solution from suggested elements. Each person eliminates unacceptable solutions or elements. Never tell another person what their needs are, but use "I Statements" and Active Listening (listening for feelings as well as specific points and reflecting them back in your words to confirm that you heard what the other said). 5. Decide on the best solution, acceptable to everyone, and make a mutual agreement to try it. 6. Implement the decision. Decide who will do what and set a time to evaluate the implementation. 7. Evaluate the implementation of the decision, and if necessary, start again the conflict resolution process.
Re: process Buzz Burrell, July 20 1996
- Process allenbutcher, January 22 2000
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