What former chairs of the Business Meeting have learned.

Original Online Meeting Group business agendas, notes, topics, and discussions
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* The business of the Original Online Meeting Group of CGAA is discussed. At our monthly business meeting, we make decisions by group conscience, guided by higher power. Everyone has a vote on group matters.
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Jeff
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Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:46 pm

What former chairs of the Business Meeting have learned.

Post by Jeff »

Since there have been a number of us that have some experience with this, I thought it would be good to put down some of what we have learned as business meeting chairs, so that new chairs and co-chairs could read it. I will focus my comments with that audience in mind.


1. When group conscience really comes together in a clear way, the vote is almost always unanimous, or at least we have come to an agreement that everyone can live with, even if they don't think it's the best way to go. Group conscience, to me, is when we allow our higher power that helped us stop gaming (that is, our best selves, or God, or spiritual principles, or whatever has helped us) to inform what we do. To do that, we have to hear from everyone. I've had the following two experiences when I was chair: a) someone was the lone holdout on a vote, we went back and listened carefully to what they had to say, and really tried to understand, and by the time it was over, we all agreed on doing it the way they had suggested. If we had gone ahead without hearing them fully, we wouldn't have had the best outcome. b) One time, a person was the lone holdout, and we didn't hear them out and moved forward anyway. It turned out later that they were right (in my view--I was not the holdout, but I later saw that they had understood the situation better). So I've become a big believer in not moving forward until everyone is at least OK with it, even if they aren't enthusiastic about it.

2. I found that it's best to always assume that everyone has positive intentions and that no one is trying to do harm to anyone else or to the fellowship. And not because I'm a super-positive Pollyanna, but because it has always turned out to be true, so far, in my experience with our fellowship. When I've really listened to people, rather than just assuming the worst, I have always found out that they had good reasons for what they were suggesting or supporting. Even if I didn't agree with their reasons, I could see that they were wanting the best for all of us.

3. I've also found that always starting with what we DO agree on, with our values (what we all value is recovering from gaming addiction and helping others recover), and with the easier parts of a topic (in terms of agreement), sets us up to work productively on the more difficult parts. Also, it can help to start out with process--agreeing on how we will proceed to address a difficult topic, before we dive into addressing it.

These are a few things I've learned. What have other chairs of our business meetings learned?
LearningSerenity
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:46 pm

What former chairs of the Business Meeting have learned.

Post by LearningSerenity »

Mostly I'd like to second everything Jeff just said. Listening to lone holdouts consistently produced a better decision than what would have been reached by simply saying something like "it's 5-1...let's move on." I usually found that there was a piece of perspective that was worth taking into account, even if I wanted to take it into account differently than the person who brought it up.

Assuming everyone has positive intentions makes the previous item much easier to accomplish and makes for far more peaceful meetings. Statistically speaking, it's only a matter of time before we get somebody in business meetings who's there for him/herself rather than for the benefit of the group, but I expect that kind of attitude to make itself clear pretty quickly. If we've listened to the people we've disagreed with, have understood what they're saying, and the group conscience still sees nothing to change or take into account, then by all means let's move on, but let's not forget that even selfish people can raise good points.

Hashing things out a bit on the forums before discussing them in a business meeting can be enormously helpful. Often, points of general consensus rise to the top in the forums that wouldn't have risen very clearly to the top in a voice discussion, and those points of consensus help the group move forward.
Scott
Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:53 pm

What former chairs of the Business Meeting have learned.

Post by Scott »

I apologize for some sloppy leading of the meeting.  I recognize that it's very important to keep things moving and make progress on the agenda so that the time is well spent for attendees and they are motivated to keep coming to business meetings.

Some of us talked it over some after today's 10/28 meeting.  A few ideas to try moving forward:

  • Set an overall time limit for each item and strive to resolve a few of them.  (Not strict limits, but guidelines to keep things moving and help people share briefly.)

  • Ask people to keep their shares to three minutes or less.

  • Wait until everyone has had a chance to share before anyone shares a second time.

  • When it goes off topic, kindly and gently get it back on topic.


I'll also speak right up if there's any interrupting cross talk, also kindly and gently.
Scott
Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:53 pm

What former chairs of the Business Meeting have learned.

Post by Scott »

When it comes to controlling the agenda and meeting process, the line between what the group decides and what the chair decides is a bit fuzzy.  On one hand, the group conscience has full power and can have final say on all matters large and small.  On the other hand, if every single detail of agenda, meeting facilitation, and process is put to the group conscience, the pace would become unbearably slow, hurt our effectiveness, and discourage people from attending.

So we give the chairperson a lot of leeway in making decisions about the agenda, facilitation, and process, as a way to speed things up, be productive, keep it interesting and flowing well.  It is up to the chairperson to judge for each process decision whether to say, "Let's do it this way" or "How about we do it this way?" or "Let's decide as a group how to handle this."  It's okay that each chairperson is going to handle this a little differently, some leaning toward quick firm leading and others toward slower open discussion.

What should happen when the chair says "Let's do it this way" for an issue but another member says, "Hold on, let's talk about this" or "I think it would be better to do it another way"?

Again, the group conscience has full power and can have final say on all matters large and small.  "Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern."  So every member has as much say as every other member on how the meeting proceeds and the group now needs to make the space to discuss the process issue.  It's possible that brief discussion will clarify the chair's approach and everyone will be satisfied to move on, but oftentimes the group will need to discuss and vote on it.

Good process is important to unity, cooperation, respectful communication, and effectiveness.  It's worth the extra time.
Scott
Posts: 167
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:53 pm

Re: What former chairs of the Business Meeting have learned.

Post by Scott »

The Literature Committee is working on a Service Manual. Here is a draft of typical business meeting etiquette: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qDK ... RJpzM/edit

It fairly well matches the process used by OOMG, as well as EGGA, GSC and Lit Com, although there are some small variations between groups and between the various chairs we've had.
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