Tony's Quick Startup Guide

The Co-Production of Leadership, Active Engagement, and Time Banking

In the absence of longer and frequent conversations and workshops I'm offering the following for your consideration. Please understand that I mean no disrespect in what follows, but having no time to learn from you what you know about group organizing I offer the following in the hope of the best outcomes for your and your colleagues.

For our start, please read the following two file start up packet:

What I struggle with is the lack of participation or civic involvement that is accepted as the social and cultural norm. What follows are some ideas that I gathered that begin to address this problem.

Please read and listen to the material from Geoff Thomas from the Wales, http://TimeBankingWales.org.(external link) You will find Geoff's power points and audios files in at http://tinyurl.com/7okqr5p(external link) Geoff Thomas teaches us how to be better at community and civic engagement or organizing. I hope that you will watch the power point and listen to the his audios, as a matter of proposal it would be great to show them at any earlier gatherings of your group in the beginning of your group's development phase, up to you. One of Geoff's key points to look for is the contrast between active and passive citizen engagement.

Additionally I've included a paper, Zoe van Zwanenberg Co-Production Leadership, that is not in the packet. It captures at least for me what some call transparent and non-hierarchical leadership.

I wish to emphasize the idea of group development or the social construction of leadership developed by and in your leadership team's group social consciousness. Some issues here are the relationships between the each other as new groups members, their understanding of how they relate and act amongst each other, and most important what is the model of civic engagement that the group practices or operates by.

Usually the model of civic or community engagement is hardly thought out, or there is no strategic plan, and if there is a plan it serves the ends of someone else's profit, or as is usual the case it's what the organizer says, i.e., oh there is nothing to it and the groups is satisfied with very low quality outcomes. Often results are counted in the number of clients or customers, the more the merrier.

My goal is to aim high for better outcomes in in terms of the following concepts. I strongly suggest that the outcome or goal here is a team that practices Co-Production and can teach Co-Production. That perhaps the best way to learn Co-Production is to teach (think) and do Co-Production.

Allow me to emphasize that as lead Coordinator you are in the process gathering a leader team of teachers. I use the term teachers, because that is the kind role model where the individual’s are likely to practice a particular kind of participatory / democratic consciousness. It really is about a particular attitude. Finding and enlisting them will take time. However gathering a think and do team is necessary to overcome the dominant culture and create a sustainable time bank. You will have to sort through dozens to finally arrive at a team that teaches and practices the Five values of Co-Production.

I'm going to throw several more 'to do' options your way, you decide what material you wish to run past your group.

Among the better consultants and thinkers on this subject is the folks at Resilience Circles(external link) or also know as Common Security.

I suggest that you use their manual as a sort of guide because there some great tactics and tips for small group conversations / organizing. Resilience Circles have three purposes: learning, mutual aid, and social action. Keep in mind to raise these ideas along with the 5 time bank values. The idea is to use these principles as operational guide post for the rules of play for the members of the group. For example, if there is a problem ask the group how can these 8 principles be used to resolve the issue.

You can jump around the guide book and pick and chose what seems right. I believe that one of the first steps is to find a facilitator in your start up group, perhaps you, if you like that role, or get someone to do that role. As you may know the facilitator is sort of a conversation traffic cop to keep the groups discussion focused on the process suggestions and goals from the guide book, and balance that with the needs and objectives of the group members and the 8 principles I mentioned above.

A gathering every two or three weeks should be fine and give members time to think, read, kibitz, and dream up stuff to talk about for the next gathering.

You will want to place the Resilience Circles process and goals on the table as soon as you are satisfied you have a team of leaders that are committed to a vision. Tell them that if anybody doesn't have a better idea, than you propose that the group do the Resilience Circles guide book, as a guide.

It is important to get folks comfortable with each other, know each others personality, skills, and attitudes, that is where this guide book can help, but it is only a guide.

I'm not sure where you group is, so I'll proceed on the bases that they need to do more practice rounds (gatherings as a forming leadership team) to get better as a group. The way to do that is for your group to be aware that THEY will be Co-Producing the outcomes, those that you (this leadership team) all will decide together.

Use the Co-Production Assessment Tool to establish a base line After you are satisfied that you have a small leadership team of 4 to 8 and before the group establishes mission and vision for themselves. Lets say that the next time the group meets that you present them with the Co-production assessment tool and have each member answer the questions. NOW, You than have a base line, that will tell you and the members what the group needs to work on. Now six months from now you do the questionnaire again. Has the operation improve or fallen in what area. You will need to merge establishing vision, mission and the operational use of the 5 values.

At this time, it is most import that YOU will need to keep things at a pilot or test phase level at this stage, tell them that as well. They the group needs to understand from you that they are practicing being role models for all the incoming new candidates for membership. If anyone in the forming leadership team will not commit and work at creating a conscious social construction of groups leadership, where every member is a leader, they should stand aside and allow someone else to function in the core leadership group. The core leaders will be working through defining the vision and mission for the evolving to be community.

LATER at the middle or end of the Resilience Circles guide book, you will introduce the 5 values of Time Banking which is a large part of the operation to achieve the goals set be the leadership team.

Those that step aside will be called back later to perform other necessary leadership functions.

At this point in the lead team's development, you will have facilitated a mutual support system, meaning people will be bonded to group activities, goals and each other. Now they are ready for the next step in their development.

Just so you know for sure, my message here is you are not establishing a Board of Directors / Executives. I suggesting that the goal is to create a group of teachers / learners that go out into the community and repeat the process that YOU just processed them through. (they are critical thinkers and early adopters of social change)

As an aside this is very much like being the leader of a jazz or rock band of musicians. Over time the individuals and units become skilled and accomplished and play some great sounds. But here our case we have no music skills or instruments and no sheet music, and so the music outcome is just noise.

But what we do have are day to day skills and knowledge tools, we have to write the (use and do the service exchange TimeBank program as we develop new goals) sheet music, the community with practice will improve,develop and make valuable outcomes.

Easy Peasy if you like the guitar, the band and the music, same here for organizing, it's easy peasy, if you like the work of community organizing for human and social development