Pet Policy
From: Rod Lambert (
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2006 12:43:25 -0700 (PDT)
Sharon (and Others)
I was speaking as well to the larger issue of not doing something because one person 
objected. We had a problem at one point where the landscape committee kept having to move 
where a tree was to be planted because of one "objection" until it had painted 
itself into a corner and gave up planting it at all. I have seen this happen on other 
issues as well and wondered if others had found a good simple process for working with 
objections informally. Sometimes it seems that if the 'obectioner' could just be helped 
to get a larger perspective the objection would be dropped. Do you know what I mean?


Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 12:02:51 -0400
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Pet Policy
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Message-ID: <8c4fef247b6104ec216d0909bca1b4d6 [at]>
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On Jun 28, 2006, at 9:49 AM, Rod Lambert wrote:

> Do you mean that one objection prevents someone from doing something. > I have noticed that general tendency here sometimes and it seems to > constipate the process of getting things done. Of course a concern for > how a neighbor might feel is important. None the less a single > objection should not always mean stop. I have been wondering about how > to find the right balance for a while without any brilliant rule of > thumb idea coming up.
Sharon Wrote:
Basically, yes. When you try to write long detailed policies you also trigger the bureaucratic mentality. People begin nitpicking instead of looking at the over all intent of the policy. I saw this happening when we moved in and later understood it because of all the studies I did to write the book on sociocracy. Sometimes detailed policies are necessary -- we bemoaned our inability to write one. Finally we agreed that there would be no pets in the commonhouse because several people, as well as potential guests, were allergic to them and that pets shouldn't bother anyone. We fully intended to write a "real" policy after we moved in. We never did because the issue disappeared. Just disappeared.

Occasionally someone trots a dog through the commonhouse and there have been (minor) disputes when a dog snapped at a child. The dog lost. No one agreed with the dog owner who maintained that their dog had been provoked therefore there was no problem. Children cannot be expected to understand dogs that do not want to be petted. Either the dog is kept under control or it leaves. This never came to a meeting; it was just discussion amongst neighbors.

Detailed policies and procedures are sometimes necessary but they are often the hallmark of "de-skilling" jobs and thus people. People are expected to behave like robots, well-trained robots, and do only what the policies and procedures say. Think Mcdonalds that has a script for every action and employees are supposed to follow it to the letter. The early Ford assembly lines of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times and Lucy's chocolate factory are good examples. Just do it this way and don't think. They were focusing on the speed but the idea was that you could spell things out in minute detail and there would be no mistakes.

The problem was that Ford couldn't keep workers -- huge turnover -- and he ended up paying people so much to work under those conditions that he lost money producing cars. It wasn't the only reason but a major one. All that detail drove people nuts.

Other people will also focus on the detail and try to beat you at the detail game. They will ask for more and more detail rather than "using their heads."

Or the one that one drives me nuts: "the policy doesn't say I can't, therefor I can." The policy doesn't say I can't put Pirahna in the kitchen sink.

I don't mean to be critical of the Trillium Hollow Pet Policy. It appears to be well thought out and something must have triggered all the special provisions. It certainly represents a lot of work. I do fear that it will come back to bite them -- like the Pirahnas in the kitchen sink.

Sharon Villines

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