Principles for Successful Planning of meetings, Resources Needed, Public Meetings and Holacracy

Understanding Holacracy

There is an interesting concept called holacracy, where those given roles are asked to commit to complete them and they are given necessary training and resources to do so.  It is a good principle to emulate.

A holacracy provides a flat management structure that distributes authority. The goal of a holacracy is to ensure that those responsible for completing work are given the authority to decide how that work should be carried out. According to proponents, holacracies lead to greater efficiency, agility, transparency, accountability, employee engagement and innovation. Critics argue, however, that the model doesn't allow for sufficient lateral communication. To be effective, the roles, responsibilities and expectations for group members in a holacracy are clearly defined, but flexible. Connecting roles, sometimes called link roles, sit in multiple groups and ensure that those groups are operating in congruence with the organization's overall mission and objectives.
The word holacracy comes from "holon," a term Arthur Koestler coined in his 1967 book "The Ghost in the Machine." A holon is an autonomous unit that is nevertheless a dependent/interdependent part of a larger whole. The suffix -cracy means "ruled by." Accordingly, a holacracy is an organization ruled by self-contained groups, just as a democracy (from the Greek "demos" for common people) is a system ruled by the people and a meritocracy is a system in which those individuals who demonstrate their worthiness have the power.

Organizations that have organized or reorganized as holacracies include Zappos, Amazon’s footwear retail subsidiary; Medium, a social content sharing site developed by Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone; and Conscious Capitalism, a non-profit organization created by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.

Principles for Successful Planning Of Meetings
Establish why you need to hold a public meeting and design your meeting to meet these specific needs. Do not hold a meeting to simply meet a regulatory requirement; this wastes people’s time, and may create disinterest for future involvement
Consider a series of meetings, rather than a single event. If you try to do too much in a single meeting, you will achieve little as people will not be able to understand the full range of information you are trying to provide. Instead, consider the learning and deliberation journey required to solve the problem and identify strategic meeting points throughout the overall public participation process
Publicize and advertise the meeting broadly. Make sure to put information in places where stakeholders go for their community information. Reach out directly to the range of interests who should be in attendance and extend personal invitations
In all advertising, clearly state the goal of the meeting, how it will work, and why stakeholders should attend. State the beginning and end times but avoid providing information about smaller time segments
Public meetings are often a focal point for media interest. Invite media and provide them with specific information that will help them to cover the meeting accurately
Take photos to provide a record of the event
Videos of the presentations can be produced to stream on the web and provide a resource to those who could not attend
Produce a clear summary of the meeting and distribute widely
Book a venue that allows for flexibility as to numbers of attendees
Venue should be located directly in the affected community if possible, or in a neutral area if not
Provide refreshments
Conduct the meeting at a time that is most convenient for the community
Make arrangements for people with disabilities or with language interpretation needs
Arrive and set up early
Test all equipment and arrange seating to maximize interaction of participants
Greet everyone as they arrive and make them feel welcome
Ask participants to agree to ground rules or behavioral guidelines at the beginning of the meeting
Present the agenda and explain the purpose of the meeting, how it will work, expected outcomes, and how/where it fits into the overall public participation process
Facilitation is essential
Make sure to create a safe and secure environment for all voices to be heard and to avoid allowing the meeting to be taken over by vocal community members
Be flexible; issues may arise that can change the agenda or ability to address certain issues
Record all input and comments; summarize what you have heard at the end of the meeting and let participants know what you will do with their input and what to expect next in the process, especially opportunities for ongoing participation.

Resources Needed
Registration desk
All staff should be up front to greet attendees and build or manage relationships
Lead facilitators and breakout group facilitators
Handlers for cordless microphones
Recorders for flip charts or graphic recorders
A/V assistance, videographers
Technical staff to give presentations
Set up and break down of furniture and equipment
Interpreters, if necessary
Venue reservation with appropriate space and furniture
Registration desk, forms, nametags
Refreshments appropriate to time, effort and audience
Data projectors, laptops, screens
Flipcharts, tape, and markers
Sound system with cordless microphones
Presentations, posters, fact sheets, agendas
Props for working in groups (pens, paper, pins, etc.)
Evaluation forms, comment forms
Child care
Planning Time
Effective meetings take months to plan and implement
Begin advertising at least one month in advance
Implementation Time
Meetings generally last from one to four hours
Arrive at least two hours ahead to ensure all set up is complete prior to early arrivals
Group Size
Meetings can be designed to meet virtually any size audience
For larger meetings, consider some portion of the meeting which allows for smaller group dialogue
Simple public meetings can be done with minimal cost
The major cost driver is staff time
Additional significant costs can include venue rental, advertising, and neutral facilitation support

Public Meetings
Public meetings bring diverse groups of stakeholders together for a specific purpose. Public meetings are held to engage a wide audience in information sharing and discussion. They can be used to increase awareness of an issue or proposal, and can be a starting point for, or an ongoing means of engaging, further public involvement. When done well, they help build a feeling of community.
Meetings can be virtually any size and can be used for any purpose from providing information up to consensus building. Public meetings are familiar, established ways for people to come together to express their opinions, hear a public speaker or proposed plan, engage in shared learning about a topic, or work together to develop solutions. Public meetings do not have to follow any specific script or agenda. They can be designed to meet the specific needs of the project, agency, and stakeholders. The main advantage of public meetings is the ability for stakeholders to listen to and talk to each other, not just the agency.
While most public meetings are larger and are intended to attract the full range of stakeholders in a community, smaller public meetings can also be held with like-minded stakeholders. Focus groups or dialogue meetings can be made up of people with common concerns who may not feel confident speaking up in a larger public gathering (e.g. women, those who speak English as a second language, indigenous groups). By creating a safe venue, these people can speak comfortably together, share common issues and a common purpose. The findings from smaller meetings can be presented at larger public meetings or in summary reports, giving a “voice” to those in the community who are unable to speak up in a larger setting.
Introduces a project or issue to a community
Provides all participants a chance to voice their concerns, issues, and ideas
Disseminates detailed information and decisions throughout the community
Provides opportunities for exploring alternative strategies and building consensus
Can create consensus for action on complex issues that require broad-based community input
Challenges to Consider
Unless carefully planned and well facilitated, those perceived as having the most power within the community, or those who are most articulate and domineering in their verbal style can dominate the meeting and overwhelm the ability of other voices to be heard
Even when well attended, meetings will only reach a very small segment of the community that require information and whose input could be extremely valuable in crafting solutions
Participants may not come from a broad enough range of interests to represent the entire community, providing a skewed view of what the public really thinks
Unless well designed and facilitated, conflicts may be deepened rather than explored and potentially resolved
Community members may not be willing to work together
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