While many of these pieces were originally written
for people living in intentional communities, almost all of the content
is applicable to other types of organizations. The following items can
be printed and copied for free, so long as credit and contact
information is included.
Agenda Planning is often overlooked, yet making
improvements in this area can easily make a major difference in your
meetings. Learn how to create effective agendas that follow people's
natural rhythms rather than swimming upstream.
Agenda Planning Factors:
Questions for screening potential items (HTML) (PDF)
makes which decisions? A prioritization tool from the
wonderful Ronaye Matthew of Canadian Cohousing
Development Consulting that helps determine which decisions
are made by the whole group vs. individuals or committees. Written for
cohousing communities under development, this approach could be adapted
to other situations.
Agenda Planning Exercise. To do
this exercise in your group you'll need to download both this document and the
Agendas: What an agenda might look like for a one-hour or
Blocking & Concerns
in Cohousing Communities reports the results of an informal
survey on decision-making at cohousing
communities, including the use of consensus, voting fallbacks, who is
eligible to participate, and some of the tools they rely on.
Committees & Delegation
It to Committee: What are they, why use them, how to use them
effectively, who should be on them, how to build trust between
committees and the rest of the group, and more.
Handout on Committees: Types,
requirements, and effective composition.
See also: Decision
with Conflict describes specific strategies for dealing with
difficulties that arise between people. Reflection, feedback, third
party support, and a straightforward set of steps for approaching
Revised workshop handout, useful information to keep in mind regarding
conflict resolution, key principles and steps. (PDF)
Working on Your Issues with Someone (Whether or Not They Come Along):
8 exercises for working out your conflicts with someone without relying
on their participation.
during Conflict: Some questions for group members to consider
when facing an entrenched conflict with significant charge and upset.
Process Team Checklist:
Offers advice for communsities who are forming a committee to assist
with conflict resolution. (PDF)
When Upset Arises during a
Meeting: What goes into making the judgement call about
whether or not to go deeper into the emotions, guidance for going
forward with it, and how to lay it aside if the answer is no.
Decision-Making short chapter from The
Decision-Making: What, Why, How: overview originally written
for Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy by
Janelle Orsi, includes a sample policy that groups can adapt.
Consensus Points: Condensed
version of basic info, such as how an item moves through the meeting,
what helps it work well, and structures (agree/stand aside/block).
Basics article offers an overview of the secular consensus
including some information on facilitation, delegation to committees
and managers, agenda planning, and taking minutes.
Chart of the steps in the consensus process.
Top 10 Most Common Mistakes in Consensus Process and How to Avoid Them.
Just what it says, the short and skinny for those in a hurry.
Attitudes: Just what it says,
"attitudes that help in learning to embody the spirit of consensus."
Guest article by Ma'ikwe Schaub Ludwig.
Queries proffers a set of questions to engage with. If your
group can dance with all of them to its satisfaction, chances are high
that your consensus process will succeed.
Types of Consensus (Tree's
"Quick & Dirty" Guide to the
Biodiversity of Consensus Decision-Making Processes) (PDF)
A Few Basic Process
Points for Happy Community Life
Niederkaufungen, a longtime intentional community in Germany,
has developed a booklet of cute face cartoons each person in a meeting
can use to insdicate response to a proposal (similar to the colored cards
that many cohousers use, but perhaps a little more fun). Scroll down
past the steps at this link to see "Using
Face-Expression Symbols to Sample Mood and Opinion "; another
version of the wording is posted
See also: Blocking
Email Guidelines: Suggestions
on what to use it for, what not to use it for, and some other things to
keep in mind about this nearly ubiquitous communication form.
and Talkers covers concrete ways to deal with one of the most
common problems in meetings: balancing participation from more
assertive vs. more shy members.
You might also consider trying out variations
listed under the Formats topic
Exercises: Instructions for
35 group games for fun, bonding, or insight.
version includes links to further resources.
See lots more at Exercises tab on
Primer (PDF): This 21-page document covers topics including
principles and methods of facilitation, formats, roles in meetings, and
Facilitation Points: Basic
principles, managing open discussions, facilitator's rap, working with
blocks and concerns, roles of the facilitator, etc.
Handout: Methods for Assessing Level of
Role: Bulleted list on eight aspects of the
role, an over-simplified job description.
Powers of the Role:
A naming of powers that often come with the facilitator role, as a step
toward transparency and awareness.
a brainstorm list on the energetic qualities of gathering presence.
Formats: Short descriptions
of more than two dozen formats suitable for use in meetings. Many
alternatives to whole group discussion.
Meetings: Alternative sessions for community-building.
Rules: One basic suggested set, and some other possibilities.
Handout: Why, how, and some
ideas for ground rules (PDF)
Members: Advice on what to avoid and how to make it work out
well when hiring members as professionals during developments.
Notetaking Guidelines: What
to remember to include when writing meeting proceedings for the record.
(PDF has slightly more information.)
Planning & Preparation
Process Team Checklist
Team Checklist (PDF) offers advice for communities who are
forming a committee to assist with conflict resolution.
Decisions gives 8 possibilities for what rules to have about
this and a sample community for each one.
Roles in Groups
Groups gives an overview of different types of roles group
members play, and exercises for increasing role awareness and
Values into Action
(aka "the 4-color process"): A set of process steps for how to move
your values from nice fuzzy statements into real, specific actions with
A list of values that underlie consensus decision-making.
(PDF) is a 1-page handout covering some basics about what a vision
statement is and why have one.
Visioning Agenda: The writing of a vision statement from
scratch in a one-day meeting, using an Appreciative Inquiry approach.
Vision Statements from several communities and other
Handout: Guidelines for
voting fallbacks to consensus. (PDF)
between consensus decision-making and Robert's Rules of Order majority