Governance - Compliance with Business Requirements
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2010 09:20:04 -0700 (PDT)
Lest we forget, a cohousing community is not just a group of people who have dinner together twice a week and share a playground. It is also a housing complex, one that is quite likely to be worth $10+ million.

Responsibly managing that size of an investment, one that represents the security, physical and financial, of most of the people living there, is no small responsibility. But how to do that without falling into traditional autocratic management structures?

Sociocracy, aka dynamic governance, to the rescue!

The model is that:

1. All members serve on the Board which sets policy on all aspects of community life.

2. All members serve on Operational Teams that do the work of the community

3. Two members from each Operational Team are delegated by consensus to represent their teams on a General Management Team.

4. The General Management Team coordinates and over sees the functioning of the community. It is the place where cross team responsibilities and concerns are discussed. It makes decisions within the policies set by the full Membership. When teams can't reach consensus, the decisions go to the General Management Team. When the Membership needs to make a decision, the General Management Team digs up the necessary information and makes a proposal.

5. The Membership elects by consensus a General Manager (aka President), an Administrative Secretary, and a Treasurer.

The General Manager, called a Gem by the Legacy Farm community, leads the General Circle and works with team leaders on day-to-day operations.

The Administrative Secretary is responsible for (1) meeting scheduling, room arrangements, distribution of support materials, and minutes; and (2) proper retention and filing of papers.

The Secretary is responsible for financial responsibilities and records.

All this is done within the policies set by the Members make decisions about how it will be done and how its budget will be spent.

This means a lot of policy setting at first and adjusting the policies when necessary but eventually this slows down.

Another alternative is to adopt the policies of another community and then modify them as necessary. Don't reinvent the wheel until you find something better.

Sharon Villines
Nothing exists without order. Nothing comes into existence without chaos. Albert Einstein

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