If you’ve ever attended a formal meeting, it starts with an agenda and an agreement of what’s to be discussed. These two simple things are actually profoundly important to a productive, respectful meeting.
An agreed-upon agenda is just one small part of good governance, says Deb Stark, independent board member and former deputy minister of agriculture for Ontario. Governance itself is a clear, transparent way that decisions get made for a board, a farm, or any group of people, she says.
“If you’ve got other partners involved with you in your farm business or any other business, then you really need to figure out who has the authority to make those decisions and how their decisions are going to be made, and it needs to be clear to everyone,” Stark says.
That’s the base of any well-run group — clarity on how topics are brought up, agreement to discuss them, and how what is required to make a decision on behalf of the group.
Without some agreed-upon rules of order, Stark says, there’s a higher chance of any discussion just devolving in to chaos. Understanding the rules, the by-laws, the order of good governance is the first step towards really making things happen.
“If you want to move a large group of people, especially if they have different interests, you have to have a common language, you have to have a common process to be able to have a conversation and get to a decision, and get something done,” she says.