Q&B Management Committee Meeting June 2018 - a personal reflection
The phrase echoes in my ears, even days later, ‘I hope so’. Repeated throughout the meeting, it epitomises the cautious optimism of the Quakers I’ve recently befriended.
The topics and order of the Q&B board meeting I was permitted to observe would have struck one as similar to any corporate entity; there were appointments to approve, procedures to discuss, membership to confirm and announcements to agree. Yet, this group embraced practices that set this meeting apart in ways that I think the western corporate world would do well to consider.
The afternoon began with silent prayer, a moment in which the stress and concerns of the metropolis outside the window might be put aside for a moment to deliberate the weighty task ahead. This set the tone for the meeting: contemplation of serious issues was at hand, but the process would be conducted in a deliberate and respectful manner.
The Clerk is specially trained and charged with keeping order, maintaining the focus required to complete the schedule and record events. And a good thing too, as nearly every item of discussion entailed the real world of budgetary and resource constraints impinging on the good works of the Quakers that the passionate and committed experts in the room were there to resolve. Yet, unlike other board meetings, there was no shouting, no cliques formed against one other and no obvious acrimony when decisions were made and the group moved on to another topic.
Perhaps this was because in addition to acting as referee, the Clerk ensured Quaker practices – in particular respect for others – were continuously observed. When the issues grew complicated or subject to considerable debate, moments of pause were injected, thus slowing the tempo and lowering the temperature for a moment, allowing all to collect their thoughts and recalibrate. The result was an absence of gamesmanship, ‘silo mentality' or animus, allowing the group to not only sweep through the agenda at a steady pace, but arrive at more optimal solutions than may have been possible under ‘normal’ circumstances.
Many thanks to all for allowing me to attend. Observing the meeting gave me a better sense - and respect for - Quaker business practice.
(PS the pen and paper which was provided for note taking were both made from recycled materials. Impressive.)