Re: Criteria for setting meeting agendas
From: Berrins (
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 07:43:08 -0600 (MDT)
In a message dated 4/28/02 3:33:39 PM, bschaller [at] writes:

<< Do  other groups have a way of deciding which issues should come to the
attention of the upcoming meeting? >>

Our board of trustees puts together the agenda for each upcoming meeting.  
Doesn't take long and no one seems to get worked up very often, if ever.  

One tactic we've taken with "parking lot" issues (aka "back burner" issues) 
is to use basic time management concepts.  Urgent issues naturally take 
precedence, but if you ignore non-urgent issues they eventually become 
urgent, usually because not dealing with it allowed a crisis to develop.

So rather than plan your agendas strictly on how urgently you need to address 
issues (aka crisis management), put ALL your issues and goals and dreams on a 
big list and prioritize them.  Prioritize them based on your vision of what 
you want your community to be or be doing next month, in a year, in five 
years, and in twenty years (or whatever time increments make sense to you).

And now, the most important steps:  Find ways to process the high priority 
issues (give idealized deadlines where appropriate) and break down those 
processes into discrete steps that can be assigned and brought to meetings to 
be dealt with, bit by bit by bit, regardless of urgency.  Update your lists 
and reprioritize regularly.  There are lots of books on the mechanics (and 
I'm sure folks out there have suggestions!).

Looking at this big a picture for the first time can be sobering, but you 
also get a great perspective and appreciation for the amazing work you're 
doing and have already accomplished.  While it seems almost impossible to do 
this during the formative stages, because urgent issues pop up so often, do 
it anyway, and do it regularly.   The sooner you get started the more it will 
be a part of your overall group process.  

It took a while before we realized that time management concepts were 
necessary and it took some practice as a community to prioritize effectively, 
but we're getting better at it.  We're still working on breaking down larger, 
non-urgent, issues into manageble steps and getting them meeting time, but 
we're getting better at this, too.  In my opinion, this is what has made 
getting the agendas together relatively easy.

    Roger Berman
    Pathways Cohousing
    Northampton, MA
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