Saturday, March 24, 2007

Radical Transformation of a Salon: Organizational Evolution and Membership

Until there's a commitment, there's only a shell of an organization, a wish, a "what-if," and a dream of what might be. SeattleIntegral has been, and continues to be, one model of what an Integral Salon can be. We've had inspired and visionary leadership, and we now have a group of people, the Core Group, committed to taking that vision to the next level.

Seattleintegral, one of the largest integral salons in the world and over 160 members, is a group held loosely together by that vision, and by the dreams and wishes of the individuals who make it up. It is also made of of lurkers and people who don't post and aren't really involved for whatever personal reasons, and by people who just like to hang around the energy created by others. It can certainly continue as it is, with people finding us, and drifting in, from Meetups, from Integral Institute, and from other groups, learning, and some, maybe, without seeking the next level of evolution in the development of the organization.

But that's not my vision, and I'm hoping it's not the salon vision. I want to take this group to the next level: that of a self-sufficient, self-supportive, mature organization that will continue to contribute to the member individuals, the community, and the world.

I'm no longer going to detail "why" SeattleIntegral needs to move to the next level. I believe I've done that and made my points sufficiently. Instead, I'm going to focus on the "how" we move to the next level of organizational development.

My proposal to the Core (leadership) group of SeattleIntegral is that we institute a 3-4 tiered membership program, consisting of several different levels of membership. Please keep in m ind that this proposal is a starting point to develop needed structure. These proposed membership levels as I will be submitting to the Core Group are:
  • FREE: Free membership. Nothing changes for members who want things to remain the same or don't care to invest in the future of SeattleIntegral
  • Level One: Minimum investment of $60 per year, if paid up front, or $6 per month if paid monthly. Benefits include voting rights in electing representation in the form of a Board of Directors, including two members who are chosen from the board to up-link to, and be included in, the Core Group.
  • Level Two: Minimum investment of $100 per year, if paid up front, or $10 per month if paid monthly. Includes the benefits listed at level One, and 50% off one event of your choice per year.
  • Level Three: Minimum investment of $150 per year, if paid up front, or $15 per month if paid monthly. Includes the benefits listed at level One, and one free event of your choice per year.
The benefits to both SeatleIntegral and its members are many. SeattleIntegral gets much needed cash flow to continue serving its members and the integral community by becoming a 501-3C non-profit organization and by offering bigger and better events without the risk to individual members who are now putting on these events at their own risk. Paying members receive the benefits of having a voice in the governing of the salon as well as value in the events and the knowledge that they are supporting the salon and its evolution.

The elected Board of Directors, a solid, healthy first tier structure, would assume the business of governing and running the salon and its activities, including the web site, Meetup, the calendar, and events. The Board would also be responsible for developing the up-linking and down-linking of Sociocratic/Holacratic circles, from the sub-groups of one side, to the Salon leadership Council, and ultimately, Integral Institute from the other direction once those organizations also have the necessary structures in place. The Core group would remain in place as the visioning arm of SeattleIntegral.

I want to reiterate that this is my vision for seattleIntegral, and that it is only one way to do this. There may be better ways, and it may not be everyone's vision. I know there will be negative reactions to this proposal. There will be those who have adverse feelings about the hierarchy membership seems to create. I submit that there already exists a hierarchy of action between those who are doing and those who are not. Many of those who are not currently "in action" may simply not have the time resources, or skills needed, to invest in SeattleIntegral's future. If we allow that those who serve get some sort of discounted membership for their service, this proposal actually levels the playing field around hierachy. In addition, no one has anything taken away from them because they cannot participate in one way or another.

The choice is simple: We can remain where are are, stagnant with no hope of evolving to the next level of salon, not leading the way, nor modeling the future of integral salons, steeped in the relativism of keeping everyone equal, or we can step up to the next level and way of being and shaping the inevitable future of salons

Either way, we fulfill our destiny. What that destiny is lies in our hands. In order for salons to grow and have more impact on our communities and the world, it must happen. The only question is when?


Tom Mull said...

Way to go Gary! I support your proposal. =)

Anita said...

Gary, you have put this all together very well and very clearly and even done a really good job overcoming any hesitations I might have expressed about hierarchy based primarily on finances. So yes, way to go! I must confess I am a little confused though about how much space you give to negative reactions toward hierarchy itself. I do hear a lot of familiar voices in your posts, things I have heard people say and things I have said myself, but I have not heard those voices. What about taking any such conflict that does arise as the kind of transformational learning opportunity that Kegan and Lahey write about? Go for the commitments embedded in the apparently opposing positions and be careful not to color-code them too quickly. I look forward to working with this proposal in Core Group.

Kerry said...

Thanks Gary. May your proposals gain suficiant momentum to spark good growth.

I'm an I-I member in Santa Fe.

My impression of using up-front and monthly rates is that to offer a discount greater than 20% can suggest either (1)a short term funding need with de-emphasis of the longview, or (2)a greater trust in participant turnover than consistant membership/attendence.

Inasmuchas policies communicate...
that's my two cents.


Steve Frazee said...

Nice post Gary!

Every organization needs leadership that is visionary and keeps things moving along….and is willing to face the fear of failure. It seems highly cognitive and Integral individuals too easily get mired in negative scanning and are reduced to pointing out potholes and potential problems instead of getting things done. Leading an organization is a practice, not a theory; it can be messy and erratic, just like life. What fun!

“I want to take this group to the next level: that of a self-sufficient, self-supportive, mature organization that will continue to contribute to the member individuals, the community, and the world.”

Good for you Gary for jumping in with both feet! Your success will be a great teacher for all of us.

Mark said...

Gary, well stated. It's obvious you have the vision for the future of SI.
Down here in San Diego we are where you guys were years ago, just getting a core group together and finding a LR space. It's great to have a role model like SI and you leading by example.


Joe Perez said...

Hi Gary,

Overally I have a positive appreciation for your proposal; however, I must admit to being surprised at how quickly the subject changed from one area--the evolutionary organization--to another--the institution of fees. Even if fees are implemented, it will not necessarily improve the quality of feedback or participation.

I prefer the solution arrived at by another nonprofit I am familiar with which defines is membership into two groups: total members and active members. Total members are all those who have attended the MKP training. Active members are those who regularly attend functions, as recorded in an online database that all members are free to update as they choose. There are no fees for any level of membership; the monetary needs of the organization are are met through (a) sponsorship of profitable trainings, and (b) donations.

I just throw out this detail to show that there are other models that have advantages and disadvantages, and institing fees or tiers of membership is just one option that should be on the table.

All the best,


P.S.: On a more general topic--SI and community and membership... I'll post separately to the SI list.

Tom Mull said...