By utilizing the Working Group model TGC is able to facilitate the creation of a diverse network of Working Groups. These groups work collaboratively to achieve a greater level of environmental reform than can be achieved individually. Sharing the successes, information and recommendations of Working Groups with other TGC Working Groups, TGC Membership and the public will aid in promoting environmental causes.
Working Groups are action teams operating under the purview of the Steering Board, sharing common goals and core values and beliefs. As each Working Group is one piece of the TGC Project, they have a duty to provide updates on the Working Group Web Page on a regular basis. Updates and blog entries are used to create the TGC News Letter which is distributed to the entire membership.
The constituents of the Working Groups are the environmental stewards of our communities. Working Group members determine their group’s specific area of focus, actions and outputs. They also structure their own meetings and agendas. Consensus Working Group structure is highly recommended in order to create dynamic working groups. These diverse creative teams are crucial in developing the multidimensional solutions to our local environmental issues and concerns.
Working Group Selection Process
Working Group members are individuals with a strong knowledge or a keen interest of the region’s environmental and management issues, who also have the ability to understand and respect diverse points of view.
Individual TGC members nominate themselves to participate in the Working Groups. The Steering Board and Working Group members can nominate experts from the community to participate in the Working Groups and also can propose potential and future Working Groups.
Consensus Working Group Model
Consensus is a decision making process that works creatively to include all persons making the decision. It is the most powerful decision process as all members agree to the final decision. In most situations, the most effective way to reach a consensus is through discussion. Consensus is more important than the vote. Straw polls with section headings under which people can comment and give their support can be conducted to gather information for a proposal. Consensus is determined by reading the comments and not by counting people’s comments.
A vote can be held when a Working Group decides that comments weren’t enough for the situation, and you need numerical data in the forms of votes to find consensus. Prior to implementing voting, Working Groups should establish quorum, which states what the minimum number of votes that is required for the opinion to continue.
Approval voting can occur if you have more than two options. The Facilitator must outline the options in detail and ask members to vote for as many as you want. The option with the most votes is the consensus. TGC suggests that if no option is supported by 75% of the voters there is no consensus.
Difference in opinion will always exist. If a working group feels it has exhausted discussion, it can ask the individual with the difference in opinion to “step aside” on this issue. This means that they do not agree with the decision but do not feel that it is wrong. They are willing to have the decision go forward, but do not want to take part in carrying it out.
The goal of the Working Group is to reach consensus on the focus issues. Thus, each Working Group member should strive to make sure the group remains active and effective by using the following techniques:
- make the best effort possible to reach consensus
- share the responsibility of ensuring the success of the process and the quality of the outcome
- keep the Working Group members informed regarding personal constraints on decision making authority on behalf of agency or constituency
- inform agency or constituency about the perspectives, concerns and interests of the Working Group
- actively participate in discussions
- bring concerns to other members or facilitators
- share the airtime with others
- have respect for different points of view
- on and mutual understanding
- verify assumptions when necessary
- avoid characterizing the motives of others
- acknowledge and try to understand other perspectives
- deal with differences as problems to be solved not battles to be won
- stay focused on the task at hand
- refrain from distracting others through side conversations
- silence all cell phones during meetings
- concentrate on the content of the discussions and allow the facilitator to focus on how to promote productive discussion