05 Sep 11
What is horizontal organisation?
hierarchy, as opposed to a vertical organisation in which some people make decisions and others obey them.
- What do we need?
- How can we get it?
An Assembly is a gathering place where people who have a common purpose can meet on equal footing. It can be for:
- What is being proposed?
- Why is it being proposed?
- How can we carry out the Proposal if a consensus is reached?
A consensus is a collective construction of a solution to or a decision on a common interest.
- Being very clear about the group’s common interest.
- Being aware that anything collective is the sum of all the individual knowledge and input; to this end, each individual’s opinions must have been be communicated, listened to and respected.
- Realizing that it [consensus] is a commonly constructed end, rather than a function in itself.
- Realizing that consensus involves a process and that time and the necessary steps must be provided for it.
- Creating a relaxed group atmosphere which encourages participants to listen to, respect and support each other. climate which listens to, respects and has complicity amongst its members.
- Making sure that the task which will to be worked on is crystal clear.
- Sharing the information of each individual or sub-group so it can be properly taken into account.
- Considering all points carefully.
- Identifying and using points which are clearly fall on common ground in order to begin building the proposal.
- Gradually drafting the proposal through collective thinking.
- Celebrating individual and group achievement.
What is Indirect Consensus?
- What? Why? How?
- After the moderator asks ‘Are there any strongly opposed opinions?’, and if there are, a queue for floor time is prepared. The Floor Time Team and Coordinator(s) open the first round of debate.
- If the Proposal comes from a Working Group, it is returned in order to be reworked,
- If the Proposal comes from an individual, it will be taken to the competent Working Group so it can reach a consensus on its usefulness and present a reworked version of it in the next Assembly, where it will once again go through the same procedure. And so on until a real consensus is reached.
Keys to Creating Dynamic Agendas
What is the Agenda of an Assembly?
The Agenda is a summary of the topics to be discussed during an Assembly. Its function is to make sure no important issue is left out, to establish an order in the type of interventions and to make it possible to calculate how much time each part of the Assembly should take.
The agenda is drawn up by the Group Dynamics Team and the Moderator of any assembly should be familiar with it before opening an assembly as it is a basic guide to that assembly’s contents.
The Group Dynamics Team does not have jurisdiction over the contents of the Agenda; its members merely organise the issues to be discussed as reflected in the consensus reached by the representatives of all participating working groups (if there are working groups) or individuals (in smaller assemblies) in preparatory meetings.
The agenda contains an outline of what issues are to be discussed in the Assembly and as such should be read out loud at the beginning of the Assembly so that the all present are aware of what is going to take place.
Experience will help improve the design and relevance of each Assembly agenda. We recommend setting time limits for each Assembly depending on the number of participants and the issues to be discussed, in order to avoid loss of concentration and unfruitful assemblies.
Example of an Assembly Agenda
- Summary of the consensuses reached in the previous Assembly and all outstanding issues.
- Presentation of the facilitator's roles.
- Explanation of the concept “Assembly”. We do not “vote”, we reach consensus.
- Explanation of the concept “Consensus” (direct and indirect). Explanation of the process used to reach an indirect consensus.
- Examples of how the mechanics of the Floor-Time Team and Facilitators during an Assembly.
- Reading the Agenda out loud.
- The turn of the Working Groups without specific proposals for the Assembly, only information which does not require consensus. These are called, "Reports." It is advisable that a spokesperson from each Working Group attends the preparatory meeting for the Assembly in order to help organise the list of issues to be discussed.
- The turn of the Working Groups with specific proposals for the Assembly. If a direct consensus is not reached, the floor is opened to debate. Remember: there should be a maximum of two rounds of debate to defend each position (in groups of three speakers) and/or find a point of agreement. If the debate becomes heated, a period of common reflection can be opened and if after two rounds no consensus is reached the issue can be adjourned to the following Assembly. Opinion > Debate > Resolution or Adjournment.
- IMPORTANT NOTICES. Citations, general interest information, latest news, etc.
- ANY OTHER BUSINESS. During this round, there is no opportunity for debate. The information is not to be ratified at this point, rather taken up by the pertinent working group or commission. Important: if it is necessary to cut short this round because of lack of time or tiredness, announce this and tell those who have not had a chance to intervene in this round that the subjects they wanted to mention will have priority in the any-other-business round in the next Assembly.
- Conclusions and notification of time and place of next Assembly.
- Message of motivation and reminder of common purpose. Now is the time to use memorable words, which may be in verse, a piece of good news, a highly-charged quotation or a short text, etc.
- Closure and acknowledgements.
Roles and Functions for an Assembly:
- welcoming the participants to the Assembly;
- explaining the nature and workings of the Assembly;
- presenting the group dynamic teams and their functions;
- moderating positively and conciliating distinct positions without aligning themselves personally with any of these;
- informing the Assembly of the positions for and against during the process of Indirect Consensus;
- summarizing each intervention during the rounds of debate should it be needed;
- and repeating the consensus as recorded in the minutes.