Friday, December 20, 2013

Rules First

In principle, it is best to make the rules before taking the field, before startingthe meeting. When we decide how we are going to make decisions before we find ourselvesin the tension of making them, it lowers our chances of conflict. It is much easierto establish proposal-development steps and decision criteria in the hypotheticalrather then when actually confronted with a real proposal and with real personalities.

"We'll figure out the rules as we go," rarely turns out fair and often leads to conflict and resentment.

Establishing rules of engagement beforehand lets everyone know what to expect, giveseveryone equal opportunity to participate, and increases chances of creative, peacefuldecisions.

Practical Tip: Before you get to the hard decisions, first establish who gets tovote and who does not, how proposals get developed and discussed, and norms of behavior for meetings. For many groups, such rules are embodied in bylaws and meetingground rules. Imagine the tough situations before they arrive and decide in advancehow they will be handled.

Establishing and enforcing rules does not limit creativity, but rather encouragesit. Knowing what to expect gives us courage to fully participate. Craig Freshley

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