Decisions Quakers

Quaker decision-making in a secular context

The following quote (in italics) is an example of collective decision-making in a former Soviet country after the fall of the Soviet Union:

… I [Leonard Joy] was charged to support a team created to manage a process for the redesign of the public sector. … I chose to act as would a clerk in a Quaker meeting. The team included former government officials and a member of the secret police. … they could not contain themselves from argument, … interrupting for their voice to be heard.

They acknowledged that this was not productive and accepted my clerking authority, which now required them to open their meetings with silent worship. Of course, I did not call it that. I asked them to center themselves in their role in search for the greater good. …

I also asked them to speak only when acknowledged by the clerk—which, of course, I called “the chair.” I further asked them not to present arguments against one another but to each contribute what they understood that was relevant to the decision. I emphasized that we should use the ego to serve the task and not the task to serve the ego.

I further explained the aim of coming to unity and the value of that in securing ownership of the outcome. In my role as chairman I gave periodic reports of what seemed to be agreed, what seemed to need further resolution, and what I sensed that this would take, inviting contributions on these matters.

We made small posters and stuck them on the wall—prompts to remind us of what was now required of us. … Indeed, the value of the new practice was readily seen and it became adopted with pride. The team members set out to spread this culture in the meetings they were calling in the different branches of the administration …

–Leonard Joy1

1 Gray Cox et al., A Quaker Approach to Research: Collaborative Practice and Communal Discernment, pp. 40–41.

Related post:
Book Review: A Quaker Approach to Research

By Jan Höglund

I share my reading, book reviews, and learning in my blog.

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