Leadership & Consensus Decision-Making
From: Stephenie Frederick (sjoyfredgmail.com)
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 2015 08:19:28 -0700 (PDT)
Our HOA has tried to operate with a committees & board-consensus approach.
It has not worked out entirely satisfactorily because too many matters have
been overlooked.  I believe the reason is as follows:

Consensus is not a form of governance.  It is only a process for making
decisions about something.  If there is no one to introduce that something
into the consensus process, the group does not arrive at consensus for or
against it.  For the group, the issue doesn't exist.

A cohousing community that relies only on consensus and committees can end
up NOT accomplishing critical actions such as evaluating the physical
plant,  minding insurance issues to protect the cohousing
population, establishing a dues collection policy, requiring contracts and
supervision when hiring firms to work on site, periodically issuing a
financial statement, etc.  These are difficult matters that the committees
may never bring to the board; the issues remain invisible — until a major
incident occurs.

I believe that a community that relies on consensus decision-making can
benefit from having a person or persons *(a leader) *who is responsible for
bringing up the essential issues.  This person or persons need not play a
« command & control » role.  He/she/they can be organizers who make sure
that the decision-making community attends to the invisible but vital
matters that enable the community to function without major mishap.

I’m all for a democratically elected and recallable leader who plays an
executive role and is responsible for injecting the critical issues into
the consensus process.  The non-critical issues will make it into the
process via the committees.

 Stephenie Frederick

La Querencia-Fresno Cohousing, Fresno, California

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