Helpers among the community of Pittsburgh area UUs. Link to the main Sunnyhill site.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Herb's idea for a new group

I am interested in hearing from those who are interested in forming a member-driven discussion group regarding who we are as UUs and what we expect from UUism and Sunnyhill.

In order that there be no misunderstanding, I will first state that I am specifically not interested in offering an alternative to the bridge building process. For full disclosure, I will state that I remain unconvinced that the bridge building process is responsive to the needs of our congregation. Our needs are both transactional and transformational; the consultant's report is limited in scope, whether intended or not, to transactional change. It addresses issues necessary to correcting management errors of the past but does not go beyond this aspect to address the core issues of defining who we are as a congregation and what will fulfill our congregational identity.

I will participate in the bridge builder process primarily as an observer and commenter, not because of the value of the process but because of the value of being aware of the state of the process. I will not be disruptive but I will not silently stand by if I see the process as contributing to advancing a forgone agenda from either within this congregation or from the UUA.

That said, I would like to meet with persons who would like to discuss what we expect from being a UU. I cannot be specific in an agenda because I want those who come to bring their own issues and perspective free from the necessity of having any prefixed limits on their concerns. One of my own concerns is do we need a minister at all, another is what, if any, relationship should we have to the UUA. I am stating these not because they should be the agenda, but as examples of transformational issues as opposed to transactional issues such as who should be the minister or how much dues we should pay the UUA. I hope that such examples would encourage others to look at fundamentals and to speak freely in an atmosphere not burdened by an outside agenda.

In order to be clear, I would like to specify that the group would be free ranging as it desires in considering issues, but only issues. I am not looking for the group to be a management alternative or to be mission driven. There are plenty of other opportunities for action driven agendas. Of course, participants may gain ideas or learn of allies for taking action within the congregation, but that would be a derivative benefit of the group, not a directed intention.

For those of you who feel more comfortable knowing I didn't invent a non-agenda driven group, I am copying the model of Calvin Pava, of the Harvard Business School in looking at Task Complexity (High/Low) and Conflict (High/Low), and am using the Quadrant 4 model, Nonsynoptic Systems (High Complexity, High Conflict). It's set forth on Page 151 Leading Change in the Congregation by Gilbert Rendle. It's characteristics are that it uses unclear objectives, imprecise methods, encourages disorderly action, and uses tacit emphasis on changing the system.

Finally, I have been doing a little reading in Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma aspects of game theory, and will use my conclusions from the material to set the following standard for forming and continuing the group: I will meet as long as there are two other individuals willing to meet for two meetings, or two additional meetings once the group forms. In forming or continuing the group I will give no weight to the approval or disapproval of any non-participant, whether or not they occupy any position of authority in the church. I will terminate the group if, and only if, it does not meet the stated standard. This is not a hostile statement, it is a clarity statement.

If anyone is interested, please let me know.

Herb Caponi

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