Re: Searchable Decision Log?
From: Fred-List manager (
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2021 05:33:56 -0800 (PST)
David Heimann <heimann [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by Fred of
the Cohousing-L management team <cohousing-l-owner [at]>
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Hello Teresa et al,

        At Jamaica Plain Cohousing we have a Decision Log that resides
on our internal site.  It's a Word document that is a table with one row
for each decision, with columns for the decision number, the
description, and the date the decision was made.  There's a table of
contents at the top so you can click immediately to any particular
decision (as a Word documment, you can also search it for any particular
keyword or phrase).

        When we make a decision it is recorded in the minutes of that
General Meeting and somebody (currently me) updates the Decision Log to
include it.

        Only "definite decisions" (as Sharon has put it -- i.e., those
reached by consensus in a General Meeting) are put into the log and are
considered as enforceable policy.  We've had several times where someone
has insisted that we had reached a certain decision, but a search of the
Decision Log and the General Meeting minutes doesn't show a record of
it, so in fact we conclude that in fact no decision had been reached.
This has stopped a number of potential disputes in the bud.

David Heimann
Jamaica Plain Cohousing
Boston, MA

Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2021 11:29:47 -0500
From: Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Searchable Decision Log?

> On Nov 22, 2021, at 11:05 AM, Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <cohousing-l 
> [at]> wrote:

> We don?t have a subgroup for decisions and we really need one. Our official 
> minutes are being stored as PDFs on our website which makes searching a 
> bizarre activity of bringing up 20 documents that all have to be opened and 
> read to find the search term. It is much easier to search, which 
> has a very good and fast search function. In the search results you see the 
> snippet containing the search term and then only open the ones that are the 
> actual minutes.

I left out a sentence. The person here who would most like to have a decision 
log is me, and I would be the one to figure out the best way to do it. But the 
problem with labelling anything ?Decision Log? is the subsequent discussion 
about whether it was actually a decision or not. There are definite decisions 
and soft decisions. A proposal that has gone through 6 drafts and finally has 
consent, is a definite decision and enters the universe as a policy. But many 
other decisions are not that clear.

A small working group decides on a plan for the plantings in the side garden. 2 
years later someone plants something else. Was the first decision a decision 
that was not expected to be violated? Or was it just a preference by those 
people that could be changed by the next person doing the work?

The other problem is that if a decision is made and is recorded in the minutes 
of a meeting but is never listed in the decision log was it really a decision? 
Is the recording of the Decision Log part of its authenticity?

At one point minute takers started recording decisions at the top of the 
minutes as ?Decisions Made:  ? so other members could just read the decisions 
and not the whole set of minutes. But if you read the whole set of minutes 
there were often decisions embedded that didn?t get labelled. At the bottom of 
their minutes, teams often keep a To Do List or a Parking Lot of items it plans 
to take up next or that are waiting for next steps. But it is often not marked 
as a decision when an item is dropped from that list. A decision not to do 
something is also a decision and should be recorded.

Decision Logs are not so easy.

Sharon Villines, Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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