Committee Effectiveness Proposal

Process 2005-06-01


How GO committees should operate, to ensure good functioning and communication.


As part of its mandate to support effective community decision-making, and in response to several difficult issues that surfaced over the past year, the Process Committee tasked itself with asking the community to clarify its expectations for how committees go about their work.

We asked community members for input on this issue at the October 16, 2004, community training day. This proposal is a product of that feedback.

Transparent decision-making processes at the committee level, and meeting practices that support the expression of diverse views are crucial to an effective consensus decision-making process.

Research has shown that when individuals and groups focus on productivity and effectiveness, tolerance for individual differences increases and conflict over personal styles decreases.

The purpose of this proposal is to strengthen the Great Oak committee system by giving specific direction to committees on how to effectively meet these goals in their day-to-day work.

The ideas in this proposal are the result of research on "best practices" on co-housing-L, Tree Bressens website, seminar notes from Kay Tift, Doug Larsons article, How to Run an Effective Meeting, and the Occupational Health and Safety Committee Manual from the Saskatchewan Labour Department.


This proposal institutes best practices for committees to follow in three (3) major areas:
A. Definition of committee scope and authority; B. How committee meetings are run;
C. Responding to concerns and inquiries;

A. Definition of committee scope and authority
i. Each Great Oak committee shall create and maintain an up-to-date mandate describing the scope of the committees work and what its decision making authority is. This document shall be made available on the committees wiki page. This mandate should guide the committee in evaluating what issues are appropriate for it to address.

ii. Each Great Oak committee shall define its decision making process and present this model to the community for consensus. This definition should include a description of how the committee will solicit input from the larger community and how the committee will communicate its decisions to the larger community;

B. Running meetings
i. Each Great oak committee shall set and post an agenda to go-talk at least two days prior to each scheduled meeting;
ii. Each Great Oak committee shall post its meeting minutes to go-talk and on the Common House bulletin-board in a timely manner;
iii. Each Great Oak committee shall establish a method for tracking cooler items;
iv. Each Great Oak committee shall identify members willing to take on the following roles (some committees may choose to have one member fill several roles at its meetings, however it is strongly suggested that facilitators DO NOT also take minutes):
a. Convener: the convener schedules meetings, prepares agendas, tracks monkeys and keeps the decision making process moving forward from meeting-to-meeting; This role should rotate among committee members on a 6 month or yearly basis;
b. Facilitator: the facilitator moves the committee through its agenda at each meeting; makes an effort to be sure that all voices are heard; summarizes the discussion and keeps it on track. This role may rotate among committee members from meeting-to-meeting;
c. Minute taker: the minute taker records the proceedings of each meeting, solicits corrections from committee members and then posts the minutes to go-talk, the wiki, and puts a hard copy on the community bulletin board. This role may rotate among committee members from meeting-to-meeting.

C. Responding to concerns
i. Each Great Oak committee shall create a process for responding to queries from community members in a timely manner. In general an effort should be made to include members who have expressed concerns in the discussions and decisions made by the committee regarding the area of concern. A committee's response to an inquiry may include any or all of the following:
- talking in person to the concerned member to better understand their concern;
- talking in person to educate the concerned member about the committees thinking/action regarding the concern;
- placing the item on an upcoming committee meeting agenda and inviting the concerned member to
come and discuss their concern and what they can to do to support the committee in addressing it;
- if appropriate, e-mailing a straight-forward reply;
- if a committee and member(s) with concerns find themselves unable to come up with a satisfactory
course of action both parties are encouraged to engage the conflict resolution committee;
- bringing a discussion of the concern to the whole group;

- Improves committee effectiveness by providing structure that supports broader participation by members;
- Supports GOs commitment to consensus decision-making by strengthening the GO committee system;
- Helps to manage conflict constructively;
- Provides committees with clear direction on how to do the work of the community;
- Encourages members to participate in community work in a variety of roles;

- Practices suggested may seem too formal for some committee members;
- Initial time spent on process issues may take away time from committee tasks;


Also discussed 5/16/05

Process Comments:

1 standaside