Founding documents lay out the structure, protocols and expectations for new Forums. The value of these documents is not so much in the words, but rather in the group’s commitment to them and to each other. When members stray away from those ideals it affects the entire group negatively, even if those members are “checking the boxes.”
Checking the Boxes?
The checkbox concept can apply to many aspects of life – religion, politics, marriage, parenting. It refers to pursuing an activity out of habit or rote. If I’m a checkbox parent, it means I’m “doing” all the right things on the list of how to be a parent. I can check the boxes – driving the kids to school, feeding them, clothing them, putting a roof over their head. But I’m not truly engaged with them – being fully present when we’re together, really listening to them when they talk, putting the cell phone away at the dinner table, asking them what they think. Although I’m checking all the boxes, I’m not involved with my child’s life at a deeper level. As a checkbox parent, my relationship won’t be as strong and meaningful as it could be.
Similarly we can apply this concept in Forum. We may be following all the rules, the best practices, the meeting format, the communication protocol. But are we really connecting at a deeper level? Are we fully present when we’re together? Are we connecting beyond the walls of the Forum meeting? Are we having deep, meaningful conversations?
Keeping Fellow Members on Track
Forum members get to know each other well. This will make it hard for a member to disguise their loss of connection to the group. Healthy Forums are able to discuss issues like this as a full group. Open communication is the best way for members to work their way through issues of this nature. And the group needs to embrace the possibility that something is off track within the Forum itself.
Highs and lows are somewhat inevitable as members experience changes in their lives. Forums themselves change over time. Be intentional about going deep. Try a high-depth exercise at one of your Forum meetings. Go on a Forum depth retreat. Bring in a professional Forum facilitator. Run a Forum health survey. Talk about it! Trying new strategies, activities and exercises help members sustain their commitment to their Forum and avoid the perils of becoming a Checkbox Forum.
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Categories: Forum Health, Membership, Communications