[Ed. Note: Don Wedd, of the Center for Economic Progress -- and NTEN Member -- submitted the following case study on his own organization's meeting strategy, as part of NTEN Member Appreciation Month. Learn more about how you can submit to the next issue of NTEN Connect.]
The National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC), which leads the movement connecting working families with tax credits and economic opportunities, is a national coalition of 600 plus organizations providing free tax preparation for low-income families. The NCTC is a project of the Chicago-based Center for Economic Progress.
We have a Steering Committee of 25 people, dispersed nationally, that meets by phone monthly. One of the group wanted to improve our meeting process, so he suggested:
1. Any issue to come before the Steering Committee should be first shared via e-mail.
2. Committee members then react electronically in a forum that compiles all comments (newsgroup, chat room, listserv?).
3. Based on that discussion, the appropriate work group chair prepares and distributes a summary of the key decision-making points and assigns presenters to represent each viewpoint.
4. The conference call uses a "speak only when spoken to" approach, in which the facilitator calls upon the assigned presenters.
5. Reaction is provided online simultaneously through e-mail, texting, or surveying; a commenter’s list is prepared (the equivalent of making a list of people holding up their hands in an in-person meeting) and called upon; formal votes are taken by either phone roll call or online survey tool.
My job was to find tools to support this process. Needless to say, I didn’t find any one toolkit, but have experimented with cobbling together several tools.