A Glorified Administrator

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

March 21, 2011


Categories: One a Day, Post a Day 2011

Timeline of Effeciency

Timeline of Efficiency. This is a theory of how efficient implementation of a proposal/vote/project is depending on the decision making model. Modified by Michelle Lasley based on concept from Tree Bressen, treegroup.info.

I love politics. I can’t help it. I always have. I don’t follow everything religiously. I filter, listening for the things I am interested in. I enjoy conversing with people regularly and hearing what they believe. I like to see what people are paying attention to, interested in, and what they generally follow. We’re all different, and it helps the world go round. More significantly, because we are all different – we all have a story to tell that is very different from our own. Everyone has an opinion about politics, even if  they say they don’t like politics.

Politics is power, said the political science professor I had while attending Portland State. Politics is Power, thought I. Yes, I can buy that. Politics in work relationship, school group dynamics, intimate relationships, siblings – relationships are often about power. Man vs. woman, boy vs. girl, student vs. teacher, boss vs. subordinate – in one way we are vying for our control of what deem to be our power in the relationship. On the other hand, this is a morbid view of relationships because on other levels we want to love each other, show compassion towards each other, and generally get a long. When the gossiping begins, though, you know politics is at play. That is, power is at play.

We have to have relationships. Even if we define ourselves as hermits, at some point we will rely on someone else for something, which means at some point we will enter a relationship. I believe we’ll get more out of this world if we can get along and generally have pleasant relationships.

I’ve often sided with the underdog. Part of this is due to my upbringing with the part of Catholicism that preaches to do more for the least of us. Part of it is my mother’s input constantly teaching us to walk in another’s shoes before judging them. So, when “consensus” was introduced as a concept to me, even before I understood the definition, I knew it was a good fit. This idea that you work together with varied people to come up with a solution that works for everyone and everyone has a say in it.

The thing I really enjoy about group dynamics is the wisdom that comes from the discussion. This usually happens, in my experience, when people are open to change, open to listening, and open opportunities. You state a problem or a concern or a new concept, and then let the wheels move in motion. The ideas begin to flow, “What if this, what if that, what if this other thing.” The answers might be yes, no, maybe, yes again – or some variation, but the change that happens in the room is amazing. This, to me is consensus. This wisdom, this dynamic, this power to change our world. Politics for good.

At our consensus workshop Saturday, Tree offered a timeline. She suggested that of our three major ruling types, consensus has the quickest implementation. You have the beginning of an idea to the end of an idea: the proposal to implementation. How long does it take to implement an idea under an aristocracy, majority rule, or consensus? She was shown, years before, a version of this picture. Sure, the end result might be implementation in a similar fashion – but the path to get you there is very different. Under an aristocracy, likely you will have a fight and a lot of pull back from the populous if it’s an unpopular idea. Under majority rule, the majority wins if 51% say okay, again, you will likely have pull-back (think health-care or “Obama-Care“) if you don’t get the other 49% to buy in. Sure, you have an outcome, but it’s not something anyone wants. But, with consensus, the idea is that the process irons out that pull back until you work out the wrinkles to have 100% (or very near) buy in, so implementation is just the next easy step after you’ve made the decision.

How does politics and power look then? We’d all have the power. How does that work with Madison and factions if you really use those steps to iron out the differences? Would Federalist No. 10 even have been written? The first presidents were glorified administrators, and they had much less power than our current presidents. The power was held in the representatives to work out some semblance of consensus-majority-rule to create our country. They had a time line in ceding from England. I wonder what it would take to work towards rebuilding that consensus, breaking down the lobbying factions we have now, and get our president’s role back to that of a glorified administrator. If we did that, if we really moved towards a consensus society – I believe it would be beautiful.

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