Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Policy Governance as Holy Work Part II

First in a series of posts about the October 2008 UUA Board Meeting

One way to gain insight into the UUA Board is to look at how we spend our time together. The October Board meeting was particularly grueling, with five more-than-full days, formal meetings running from 8:30 am to 9:00 pm, but many others before and after. Based on that criteria, the hands down winner for mind share is Ends Development and "owner linkage" in connection with the Board’s move to Policy Governance, which covered 2 1/2 days.

If you have been under a rock for the past few years and have never heard of an “End”, it is the John and Miriam Carver term for high level goals: what benefits we are providing for whom, and at what cost. Working with Unity Consultants, the Board spent Thursday reviewing the input from the Appreciative Inquiry at General Assembly, and listening to members of the District Presidents Association (including the Pacific Central District's President Mary Ellen Morgan) and the UU Ministers Association Executive Team. We spent all day Friday developing values, writing the initial “global ends statement” (more or less a mission statement), and defining our “owners”—those from whom we get our moral authority and to whom we are accountable. There is still significant work to develop the next layer of ends, which will have more specificity about what we want to accomplish, but we first need to evaluate "how we are doing so far" with our owners. These ends are what we provide to the next President, saying “make these things happen, but as you do so, don’t do this.”

In addition to the time on Friday, the entire Board traveled to Worcester (the second largest city in New England!) on Saturday to meet with 300 or so New England UUs. Together we watched Laurel Hallman and Peter Morales “debate” as UUA presidential candidates, with what I thought were far better performances from both of them compared to General Assembly. Then the Board did what the Carvers call “linkage” – talking to our “owners” about their values and what they thought the mission of the UUA was. Each of us sat at a table with 8-10 New Englanders and went through a rapid-fire exercise to get input on what we had created the day before.

The exercise was fun and insightful. Most of it was positive. Each Board member will be doing some version of this over the next six months within the Districts. Mary Ellen Morgan will be leading this with me, and we hope to get input from as many members in the Pacific Central District as possible, through a variety of means: travel to meet with congregations, at District meetings, through conference calls, and online. Look for more information through PCD Currents and here as it develops.

Next post: UUA Finances in Difficult Times

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