When Quaker Process Fails – Friends Journal Interview and Article

by QuarterlyLove

From Friends Journal…

John M. Coleman’s feature article (“When Quaker Process Fails”) looks at ways that Quaker institutions have avoided accountability and expertise. In our follow-up interview he shares the three essential conditions for good Quaker decision-making, and tells us of some surprising places where Quaker process is being used.

A typical Quaker institution like a bowl of spaghetti? a key passage from the article…

There is an unworkable organizational structure.The organization chart of a typical Quaker institution resembles a bowl of spaghetti. Not only does it lack accountability, but also its responsibilities are split up in incomprehensible ways. Thus, it is not uncommon for staff members to report to multiple boards of trustees or for boards and committees to have ludicrously high numbers of members. The driving organizational concept seems to be the notion that everyone needs to be involved in everything. But that has never been a premise of Quaker business management. The activities of a school with hundreds of students ranging from ages 3 to 18 and many dozens of skilled staff members, or a continuing care retirement community with hundreds of residents and three levels of personal care, or a yearly meeting serving more than 100 monthly meetings across a territory of several hundred square miles, simply cannot be managed competently by a “committee of the whole.” To return to the example of PYM, that body today has more so-called standing committees, working groups, granting groups, and ad hoc committees than a mangy dog has fleas, along with a group labeled “Interim Meeting” that at last count was made up of more than 100 Friends who supposedly act as the equivalent of a board of directors. Those bodies attempt, in one way or another, to micromanage activities most of which ought rightly to be delegated to PYM’s competent staff, and no one can honestly claim that he or she knows who is responsible for what. Useful energy is squandered in conflicts among the myriad pieces of the bureaucracy. The result is a lot of dubious decisions.

To read the full article click here: http://www.friendsjournal.org/when-quaker-process-fails/


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