We'll explore ways in which something akin to a Quaker-like process can be used for secular decision making, and how it brings clarity and community to the life of non-profit organizations and even to for-profit companies. What's left of Quaker process without it's emphasis on spiritual discernment? Come and find out!
Many organizations try to make decisions with a form of consensus process, and mistakenly refer to this as if it's the Quaker way. Of course it's not. Our Quaker process is about spiritual discernment, and while it emphasizes clarity to proceed, it does not demand unanimous agreement on each issue.
We'll explore models of how a “secular sense of the meeting” process can work, how it can be instituted within an organization, and how people can find “safety” even though they can't vote.
The workshop will be about more than process. Our concern will be how healthy decision making processes (and this includes agenda setting, minuting, reporting, etc) can create healthier communities. We'll draw heavily on the experience of participants, reflecting on their role as board members, managers, project leaders, community activists, etc.
Our sessions will start with worship, and will then proceed to worship sharing about our journey at the Gathering. We'll then move onto our agenda:
Day 1: Who are we, and what experiences or concerns brought us into this workshop? Characterizing our decision making experiences outside of Quaker meetings. How are action plans developed and refined? What happens to minority views? What about deep dissent or discord? How can strong advocacy help and hinder the movement toward group clarity? What changes in process would we seek.
Day 2: Characterizing the Quaker “Sense of the Meeting” process. What's the difference between discernment and decision making? How does prayer enter into our process. Do we experience “standing aside” or “standing in the way” as spiritual or as secular activities. What happens to ego in making heart-felt decisions? What's the role of the clerk in a gathered meeting for worship for the conduct of business? What are the essential elements of our Quaker process for making decisions?
Day 3: Characterizing the secular “dance” in Quaker process. How does writing and revising minutes help our process? What other rituals and activities are significant parts of our process? What's the best role for “threshing sessions”, and other opportunities for information sharing around complex issues? How do we find the individual agility to be present in the process, and not just remain an advocate for one point of view? And how can the form and clarity of an agenda affect the decision making process?
Day 4: Translating “sense of the meeting” to “SECULAR sense of the meting. How would we describe this new process? What's the goal, if it's not finding God's will for our group? How best to integrat Quakers and non-Quakers into this process? What happens to people who believe that they have “lost” in a decision-making process?
Day 5: Taking “secular sense of the meeting” into the world. We'll listen to each member of the workshop share how they might use what we've covered, how it might fit with groups they are involved with, and what concerns remain. Evaluating what we've accomplished, and evaluation of the workshop process and leadership will merge together in prayerful consideration.
In preparation for the workshop, participants might reflect upon such queries these, each applied separately to secular and Quaker decision-making you have experienced:
* What styles of leadership are practiced in your organization, and how do these affect
indivudals in your community?
* How do you know what decisions are needed, and when? How is the agenda formed?
* What role is there for exploration, uncertainty, confusion, changing ones mind, finding
new options that were never imagined?
* What happens to doubts, concerns, and disagreements?
* How are personal agendas reconciled with the organization's agenda and needs?
* What stories can we share that help us recognize and embrace wonderful decision making?
This workshop is primarily for people who have some organizational involvement with decision making – as board members, managers, community organizers, etc.
Feel free to contact the workshop leader, Arthur Fink, at email@example.com or 207.615.5722 with any questions or concerns.
About the leader :
I've offered wokshops at the FGC Gathering, Woolman Hill, Pendle Hill, Northfield Conference, Alycon Center, 5x5 Dance Festival, Cancer Community Center, All Maine Friends Gathering, and other venues. Ever since I served on the staff of AFSC Peace Education, I've been conducting interactive workshops of various kinds. Most recently, I co-led two workshops (called “Skillbuilders”) for the Maine Association of Nonprofits, on “Finding and telling our stories: Bringing our mission and method to life.”