Working Group Norms

The Process
There are certain norms that are specific to all Transition Working Groups and from this foundation more norms could be specified for each group on their recognizance. It was then decided that foundational norms had to be written out, distributed and presented to all existing working groups.

To determine the foundational norms the Transition Putney Mission and Principles were reviewed.

Norms:  definition

A set of assumptions or expectations held by members of a group or organization concerning what kind of behavior is right or wrong, good or bad, allowed or not allowed. Usually not articulated by groups members but they can state them if asked. Norms are a result of what a group is and does. They are:
* explicit or implicit
* developed in response or foresight to past experience, a critical incident, or a discussion
* often changed by making explicit

The Process: Of becoming and Maintaining a group
Forming- the meet and greet, getting comfortable stage, learning and adapting to each other.
Storming- Tensions occur, conflict arises, “growing pains”
Norming- Coming to agreements, mediating differences.

This is an ongoing cycle, with no set order.

Norms in group conversation and debate, accepted as standard in academic and professional circles.

* Open Mindedness- listen and respect all points of view.
* Acceptance- the effort to suspend judgment as best we can.
* Curiosity- seeking to understand, rather than persuade
* Discovery- questioning assumptions on our own part and looking for new insights within ourselves.
* Sincerity- Speaking of what has personal heart and meaning.
* Brevity- Go for honesty and depth, but abstain from going on and on.
* Servant Leadership- Let go of the need to do things “my way”. Let others “shine” in the group.

Transition Centric Model followed by all groups and by Transition members in supported community organizations:

1. Understand and hold dear the responsibility to the Community and Bio-region:

This is the guiding point in all decisions and visions.
We do this for the greater good, the group and ourselves.

2. Come into and Leave a group with joy:

We do not want people to take on something they have no time or desire to do.
We want our groups to be healthy and balanced down to the last person.
People should feel free to say no or leave, but not in a huff.
We should have and know the process for resolving issues; we should make every effort to leave a group with the same amount of joy we entered it with.

3. Plan for Retirement:

No one has a lifetime commitment-
we must enable diversity and foster new leadership, to avoid crises that occur if there is no succession planning.
We mentor each other through this process, we create mechanisms for working through this process.

4. Actively Recruit:

this is done by consensus with an eye toward each new addition’s strengths and experience and the diversity of that experience.

5. Draw your inspiration from the community:

Groups are not autonomous, we listen and respond. It is about supporting the community’s vision, not telling them what that vision should be.
We offer opportunities for new information acquisition, but we do not aim to persuade.

6. Maintain an Open Door Policy:

Actively communicate with the community, from needs, to plans and hopes.
We use every means available to communicate.
Our community knows what’s going on.

7. Speak openly and compassionately with each other:

If disagreements or conflict arise first seek to maintain the relationship, and then seek an unbiased mediator if the conflict persists.
We offer training and mentoring in Non violent Communication and mediation techniques.

8. Remember that Transition is committed to positive action in the present:

If stagnation occurs, try to remedy it by splitting up the task into smaller steps.

9. Give each other the benefit of the doubt:

Accept that as a working group and community you may have to work with people you disagree with, dislike, or have had bad blood with in the past.

10. Minimize Miscommunication:

If you don’t know, if you’re not specifically part of a group, ask questions.

11. Explore other working groups and community organizations:

a. where do you overlap?
b. Where can you work together?
c. How can you learn from them?
d. What can you offer them?
12. No project is ever fully realized:
a. if we ever feel our projects are done, we should step back and reassess them.
b. Monitoring and evaluation should be ongoing parts of every project. There is always       room for improvement, and there is always more to learn.
c. All projects do not stand alone, they are interdependent- look to see where your group
could support other groups that may not be as far along as your own.