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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Each month we bring you a nonviolence training workshop based on the experience of the Nonviolent Action Training project and INNATE.

Signs of Mature Group Process
A check list of an ideal model for voluntary, political and community groups.

Click here to view print version

  1. Consensus decision making and democracy (but who makes decisions has to be defined, e.g. do temporary members?).
  2. Involvement from all and awareness of roles.
  3. 'Leadership' functions circulate and/or are shared.
  4. Ability to define and limit extent of personal involvement (able to say 'no').
  5. Trust.
  6. Conflict seen as positive and conducted openly and calmly.
  7. Process for problem solving available.
  8. Ability to deal openly with sectarian (Catholic/Protestant), racial, cultural, gender or other questions of difference as they relate to the group and individuals.
  9. Openness to outsiders (welcoming) whenever appropriate.
  10. Willingness to allow people to grow and mature within the group (taking people from where they're at, welcoming their contribution, encouraging them to learn).
  11. Ability to be critical and self-critical (good assessment of work done and undone).
  12. Humour which doesn't put people down.
  13. Aims and principles are clearly defined (so they can be referred to) and are open to discussion and possible amendment.
  14. Others; add your own ideas...

- This isn't a list you have to agree with! It's a check list to think about the features of an 'ideal' voluntary/political/community group; you may decide some of these qualities are unnecessary or irrelevant, or that others are more important.

- You can try to decide which of these qualities are essential in a group, and which are good but not essential.

- You can also think about the extent to which hierarchical situations (typically your daily work) should or does include these qualities

Signs Of Mature Group Process
Facilitators notes:

This list can be used in a number of different ways. You can brainstorm a list first and then relate what people come up with to the list (in which case it is a check list). It would be good to give everybody present a copy of the above list at the appropriate point.

Alternatively, you can work through the list initially to allow people to get to grips with it, and share from your own experience. You can also encourage group members to share from their experience. At the end of the list, and later. you can see if people want to add to, or substitute, others items to the list.

This exercise can come alive if you share anecdotes from your experience about where these qualities have been present in groups - and, perhaps even more interestingly, where they have been absent, and the resultant consequences. You don't have to – and generally should not - name names and places!

While people may agree that ‘Trust’ (or some other item) is essential, what do they mean by that? What limits are put on ‘trust’? The fact that people are agreed on a quality does not mean they are thinking of the same thing. So probing as to what people mean, or how they would define and measure a quality, may bring out differences of approach where initially it may seem that people are agreed.

Having worked through the list, and had some experiences shared, you can break into a one-to-one session for a few minutes each way, to allow each person share something of their experiences and relate the check-list to themselves. And/or you can get people to pick one quality which they personally identify with personally, and share why.

You can go on to look at those qualities which are essential for good group functioning. You can also distinguish between hierarchical and non-hierarchical groups and structures, and the differences between the features of each.

Obviously further work is possible in looking at how essential or desirable qualities can be fostered in a particular situation or kind of situation. If particular qualities are absent, or in short supply, how can they be engendered? That can from the basis of another brainstorm and practical planning.

Copyright INNATE 2016