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BUD Meeting FAQ

What does it Mean to Use the Agenda as a Contract?

A:

The Facilitator is responsible for honoring the agenda contract. The Facilitator keeps the questions and the discussion focused on the Agenda item. Be gentle, but firm, because fairness dictates that each agenda item gets only the time allotted. The Agenda contract is made when the Agenda is reviewed and accepted by the whole group at the beginning of the Meeting. This Agreement includes the items on the Agenda, the order in which they are considered, and the time allotted to each. Unless the whole group agrees to change the Agenda, the Facilitator is obligated to keep the contract. The decision to change the Agenda must be a Consensus of all those present, with little or no discussion.

At the beginning of the Meeting, the Agenda is presented to the whole group and reviewed, item-by-item. Any member can add an item if it has been omitted. While every Agenda suggestion must be included in the Agenda, it does not necessarily get as much time as the presenter wants. Time ought to be divided fairly, with individuals recognizing the fairness of old items generally getting more time than new items and urgent items getting more time than items that can wait until the next meeting, etc. Also, review the suggested presenters and time limits. If anything seems inappropriate or unreasonable, adjustments may be made. Once the whole Agenda has been reviewed and consented to, the agenda becomes a contract. The Facilitator is obligated to follow the order and time limits. This encourages members to be on time to Meetings.

 

Source: On Conflict & Consensus

Contributors: Amy Rothstein, C.T. Butler

Recommended Books: On Conflict on Consensus

What is Clarity of Process?

A:

The Facilitator is responsible for leading the meeting openly so that everyone present is aware of the process and how to participate. This means it is important to constantly review what just happened, what is about to happen, and how it will happen. Every time a new discussion technique is introduced, explain how it will work and what is to be accomplished. This is both educational and helps new members participate fully.

 

Source: On Conflict & Consensus

Contributors: Amy Rothstein, C.T. Butler

Recommended Books: On Conflict on Consensus

What is a "Co-Facilitator" and When is Their Role Utilized?

A:

Instead of the usual practice of having one Facilitator it is often wise to have two facilitators. Here are some of the reasons and circumstances for team facilitation:

  1. More information and ideas are available during the planning.
  2. More energy (physical and emotional) is available to the group - especially during times of conflict or when handling complicated matters.
  3. If a Facilitator becomes personally involved in the discussion, it is easy to hand the job over to the co-facilitator for the time being.
  4. Co-facilitation is a way for more people to gain experience and become skilled facilitators.
  5. It is less exhausting, demanding and scary.

For people who are not used to working as a team, it is probably wise to divide responsibility for the Agenda clearly before the Meeting. However, co-facilitation means that the person who is not currently "on duty" is still responsible for paying attention as "Vibes watcher" and pitching in to help clarify issues, test for Consensus, etc.

In evaluating their work together, people who work as co-facilitators can help each other by giving feedback and support, and thus learn and grow.

 

Source: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities

What is a "Facilitator" and When is Their Role Utilized?

A:

A Facilitator is not quite the same as a leader or a chairperson, but more like a clerk in a BUD Meeting. A facilitator accepts responsibility to help the BUD accomplish a common task: to move through the Agenda in the time available and to make necessary Decisions and plans for implementation.

A facilitator makes no Decisions for the group, but suggests ways that will help the group move forward. He or she works in such a way that the people present at the Meeting are aware that they are in charge, that this is their business that is being conducted, and that each person has a role to play.

It is important to emphasize that the responsibility of the facilitator is to the BUD(s) and its work rather than to the individuals within the group. Furthermore, a person with a high stake in the issues discussed will have a more difficult task functioning as a good facilitator.

 

Source: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities

What is a Facilitator Supposed to Be Doing During a Meeting?

A:

If you are the Facilitator of your meeting these are some things to keep in mind when facilitating your Meeting!

 

  1. Arrange (before the meeting) to have somebody else present each item.
  2. Encourage the expression of various viewpoints- the more important the Decision, the more important it is to have all pertinent information (facts, feelings and opinions) on the table.
  3. Expect differences of opinion- when handled well, they can contribute greatly to creative solutions.
  4. Be suspicious of agreements reached too easily- test to be sure that people really do agree on essential points.
  5. Don't let discussion continue between two people, but ask for comments by others. After all, it is the group that needs to make Decisions and carry them out.
  6. As much as possible, hold people to speaking for themselves only and to being specific when they refer to others. NO "some people say...," "we all know," "they would not listen..." Even though this practice is scary in the beginning, it will foster building of trust in the long run.
  7. Keep looking for minor points of agreement and state them- it helps morale.
  8. Encourage people to think of fresh solutions as well as to look for possible compromises.
  9. In tense situations or when solutions are hard to reach, remember humor, affirmation, quick games for energy, change of places, small buzz groups, silence, etc.
  10. When you test for Consensus, state in question form everything that you feel participants agree on. Be specific: " Do we agree that we'll meet on Tuesday evenings for the next two months and that a Facilitator will be found each Meeting to function the next one?" Do not merely refer to a previous statement: "Do you all agree that we should do it the way it was just suggested?"
  11. Insist on a response. Here again the [BUD needs] to be conscious of making a contract with each other.
  12. If you find yourself drawn into the discussion in support of a particular position, it would be preferable to step aside as Facilitator until the next Agenda item. This can be arranged beforehand if you anticipate a conflict of interest.
  13. Almost any Meeting will benefit from quick breaks in the proceedings- energy injections- provided by short games, songs, a common stretch, etc.

 

Source: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/ action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities

What is a Meeting Evaluation?

A:

In small Meetings (up to 50 people at least) it is often wise to evaluate how things went (the Meeting process, that is, not the content). A simple format: on top of a large sheet of newsprint or a blackboard put a plus sign on the left side, a minus sign in the middle, and an arrow pointing ahead on the right side. Under the plus sign list positive comments, things that people felt good about. Under the minus sign, list things that could have been done better, that did not come off so well. Under the arrow, list specific suggestions for how things could have been improved.

Don't get into arguments about whether something was in fact helpful or not; people have a right to their feelings. It is not necessary to end with a positive comment. Meetings almost invariably get better after people get used to evaluating how they function together.

 

Source: Building Social Change Communities by: The Training/ Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/ Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities

What is a "Process Observer" and When is Their Role Utilized?

A:

From time to time any group can benefit from having somebody observe how it works. During periods of conflict or transition (changing consciousness about sexism, for example) a process observer may be of special value.

While functioning as a process observer be careful not to get involved in the task of the group. A notepad for short notations will help you to be accurate. Remember to notice helpful suggestions or procedures that have moved the group forward. Once a group has sense of its strengths it is easier to consider the need for improvements.

Here are some specific things you might look for:

  1. What was the general atmosphere in which the group worked? relaxed? tense?
  2. How were the Decisions made?
  3. If there was any conflict, how was it handled?
  4. Did everybody participate? Were there procedures which encouraged participation?
  5. How well did the group members listen to each other?
  6. Were there recognized leaders within the group?
  7. How did the group interact with the Facilitator?
  8. Were there differences between male and female participation?

When you as a process observer (whether appointed or not) are paying specific attention to patterns of participation, an easy device would be to keep score on paper. In a small group a mark can be made next to a person's name every time s/he speaks. If you are looking for difference in participation patterns between categories of people, such as fe/male, black/white, new member/old member, etc., keeping track of number of Contributions in each category is enough.

In giving feedback to the group, try to be matter of fact and specific so that people do not get defensive and can know exactly what you are talking about. Again, remember to mention the strengths you observed in the group.

If you take it upon yourself to function as a process observer without checking with the group beforehand, be prepared for some hostility. Your Contribution may turn out to be very valuable, but a lot of tact and sensitivity is called for.

 

Source: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities

What is a "Vibes Watcher" and When is Their Role Utilized?

A:

At times when the discussion is expected to be particularly controversial or when there are more people than the Facilitator can be aware and attentive to, it may make more sense to appoint a "vibes watcher"- a person who will pay attention to the emotional climate and energy level of the attenders. Such a person is encouraged to interrupt the proceedings when necessary with an observation of how things are going and to suggest remedies when there is a problem.

As "vibes watcher" you pay most attention to the nonverbal communication, such as:

  1. Body language: are people yawning, dozing, sagging, fidgeting, leaving?
  2. Facial Expressions: are people alert or "not there", looking upset, staring off into space?
  3. Side conversations: are they distracting to the Facilitator or to the group?
  4. People interrupting each other.

It is often difficult to interpret such behavior correctly. Therefore it may be wise to report what you observed and possibly suggest something to do about it. If energy is low a quick game, stretch, or a rousing song may wake people up. If tension or conflict level in preventing people from hearing each other, a simple getting up and finding new places to sit may help. A period of silence might also be helpful when people may have a chance to relax a bot and look for new insights.

It is important for the vibes watcher to keep a light touch- don't make people feel guilty or defensive. Also, be confident in your role- there is no reason for apologizing when you have an observation or a suggestion for the group- you are doing them a favor.

 

Source: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/ Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities

What is the Process for an "Agenda Review"?

A:

 

  1. Go through the whole Agenda in headline form, giving a brief idea of what is to be covered and how.
  2. Then, note before, ask for questions and comments.
  3. Don't be defensive about the Agenda that is proposed, but don't change everything at the suggestion of one person, check it out with the group first.
  4. If minor additions are proposed, make the BUD aware that adjustments must be made because of limited time available, like taking something out, postponing something until later, etc.
  5. If an item that some people do not want to deal with is suggested for discussion, consider that there is no Consensus and it cannot be included at that time.
  6. Remember that the Facilitator's role is to the whole of the whole BUD and not to each individual.
  7. When the Agenda has been amended, ask the BUD if they are willing to accept it and insist on a response. They need to be aware of having made a contract with the Facilitator about how to proceed. Besides, it is their Meeting!

 

Source: Building Social Change Communities

Contributors: Berit Lakey, The Training/Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society 

Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities

What is Non-Directive Leadership?

A:

Facilitators accept responsibility for moving through the agenda in the allotted time, guiding the process, and suggesting alternate or additional techniques. In this sense, they do lead the group. However, they do not give their personal opinions nor do they attempt to direct the content of the discussion. If they want to participate, they must clearly relinquish their role and speak as an individual.

During the Meeting, individuals are responsible for expressing their own concerns and thoughts. Facilitators, on the other hand, are responsible for addressing the needs of the group. They need to be aware of the group dynamics and constantly evaluate whether the discussion is flowing well. If it is not, there may be a need for a change in the discussion technique. They need to be diligent about the fair distribution of attention, being sure to limit those who are speaking often and offering opportunities to those who are not speaking much or at all. It follows that one person cannot simultaneously give attention to the needs of the group and think about a personal response to the content of what is being discussed. Also, it is not appropriate for the Facilitator to give a particular point of view or dominate the discussion. This does not build trust, especially in those who do not agree with the Facilitator.

 

 

Source: On Conflict & Consensus

Contributors: Amy Rothstein, C.T. Butler

Recommended Books: On Conflict on Consensus