The Agenda and Ground Rules

The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Insitute. For the last few weeks, we have been discussing some different components of Community Brokering. One piece of Community Brokering that may at first may seem minor and insignificant, does in fact have a valuable role. I’m referring to the agenda and ground rules for a Future Planning Meeting.

There is much that is done upfront to prepare for a Future Planning meeting. It is at this meeting that we will create a MAP, Making Action Plan, detailing an individual’s path to a full life in the community. In preparation for the MAP, we spend time getting to know an individual, we learn about the people in their community circles, and we explore the individual’s dreams for the future. Another important step is to make sure that we set the tone and outline for the Future Planning meeting. At every meeting, or MAP gathering, we post the agenda and the ground rules so they are visible to everyone in the room, and we take time to read them out load. We believe this is an important part of the MAP process because it prepares everyone for the steps that we will go through in creating the MAP. Some times, people who are invited to attend a MAP, are not entirely sure they understand what is going to be accomplished at a MAP and they may not know what role they are going to play in the process. The agenda helps to shape the structure of the meeting, and lets everyone know that we have steps we will walk through together. Additionally, the ground rules help to establish the MAP gathering as a safe place where we will listen to the individual, respect each other’s ideas, and take our time to work through the parts that are challenging.

The items that are typically included in the agenda are a welcome and introductions, sharing the story, honoring the dream, acknowledging the worries, naming the individual’s gifts and strengths, identifying places in the community, listing action steps, and then sharing closing thoughts. Likewise, the ground rules state that we will listen to the individual, we will take time to think, we will give everyone an opportunity to contribute, we will respect each other’s ideas, and we will take it slow through any parts that are challenging. When we are preparing for the MAP gathering, we talk to the individual about the agenda and ground rules. We ask them if there are steps we should adjust or rules we should add. By creating the agenda and ground rules, we keep the focus on the individual. We give the individual a voice and ownership of their meeting. The agenda and ground rules are a small piece of the whole MAP process, but they have a powerful message.