Re: Role of facilitators at plenary meetings
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2019 22:01:49 -0800 (PST)
On Mon, Dec 16, 2019 at 9:29 PM Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]> wrote:

> I'm on a team that is rewriting our Bylaws and we're at the section about
> the plenary meeting. We'd like to include language about what we expect and
> empower facilitators to do to keep the meeting running in a manner that is
> fair, kind, efficient, etc. Can anyone share any language either in your
> Bylaws or in other governance documents relating to this? Thanks in
> advance!
>   Muriel at Shadowlake Village

I wouldn’t put the role of the facilitator in the Bylaws. This is a soft skill 
that you can’t require someone to have. And it will change. It should be 
addressed in a policy or guidelines that can be revised more easily. Bylaws are 
things you “never" want to change and are binding. I’m not sure how you define 
the facilitator role the same way you define a Parliamentarian or a Boy Scout 
leader. Or the person who fixes the HVAC. 

What if you don’t have a person with a particular skill? Or lose that one with 
that skill — do you go hire someone?

It’s like cooking. You might never think of having a sushi chef but what if you 
have one suddenly? And the kitchen is limited to _____.

I’m biased toward believing that facilitation is required and good, but I think 
groups that use consensus tend to put too much emphasis on the facilitator. As 
if consensus is dependent on a facilitator. And a good facilitator is one who 
can produce consensus. Follow a process and a decision will be made with no 

I think a good decision-making policy, definitions of consensus — what is an 
objection, a stand aside, consent, etc. would be more useful.

When a meeting becomes a Facilitocracy, the members get lazy and resentful.  We 
rotate facilitators and its nice to have several people because some are good 
at technical things like approving the final draft of a policy, some are better 
at bringing out many opinions or desires, etc. Sometimes people bringing up a 
topic for consensus choose the facilitator and otherwise the facilitator pod 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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