Decisions, decisions, decisions: chapter 3 of GM SC Temporary Stewards’ collective journey

temporary stewards working in small groups

Decision ‘noun, a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration’ 

Decisions were the order of the day for the March  Greater Manchester System Changers Temporary Stewards get-together. For this meeting, the focus shifted towards shaping the governance, self-management strategies and holding each other accountable over the next few months.  Making decisions is key to the success of these things.  

Decision-making is the process of making choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative resolutions. As a newly formed collective, finding its way, the GMSC Temporary Stewards have to ensure it applies the right decision-making process in what they are trying to achieve. Decisions are essential to the governance of the group and holding everyone to account for their actions.  After the group check-in seeing how everyone had been and what they were grateful for, the team were ready to start the day.  The discussion around decisions commenced. 

Making decisions

The first activity of the day was about how the group organise; the systems and structures they were going to employ.  The main questions:

  • What were they already doing?
  • What systems and agreements are in place?  Without them, everyone could fall back to old ways of doing things – which is what the group wants to avoid. 

The group were presented with a diagram to help illustrate the current GMSC structure and were asked with this structure in  mind (Core team, Temporary stewards, islands of sanctuary, organising themes) to think about them in the context of:

  • The temp stewards and the themes. To be mindful of other systems and how we link to them when discussing the ‘6 themes’ and ‘how’ in practice, things are done.  
  • The idea was to then come up with systems that match GMSC’s current values.

The stewards then split into groups to review the 6 questions for the activity:

  1. Decisions – who makes them, where and how? 
  2. Information flow – how does it currently move around in the current system?
  3. Resource flow – how we think about money, how does it move around and other resources etc how do we use them and how do they work? 
  4. Feedback – how do we give/receive and integrate feedback? 
  5. Conflict – how we move through, makes us stronger, how do we get support if needed? 
  6. Support – how do we get support now? If we need more support, and capacity, how do we do it? 

notes from the sub-groups on feedback, decision and conflict notes from the sub-groups on Information flow, support and ressource flow

A lot of great feedback came from the groups, leaving the Temporary Stewards with much food for thought.  The overarching end question from this session was – How do we make visible what systems we are creating so folk can feedback? It was then time for a well-earned break. 

Introducing a framework to help 

After a break for lunch, The Social Change Nest Agency (SCN), introduced a Decision Making Matrix Framework to the stewards.  The framework is split into 2 key areas; Operational and Strategic Decisions and then within this into regular and significant. This is a key document to help categorize decisions and ensure appropriate sign off on said decisions is carried out.  

Alongside the feedback from the morning activity, and this Decision Making Matrix Framework, the governance for GMSC is starting to take shape. The Transformative Governance Organising Theme team will be able to use this gathered info and key tool moving forward to implement what is needed to hold the collective to account. To be open and transparent. We will report back on how they are getting on in a future blog post.

Decision making visual

Determination and Resolve

The consensus was that even though it’s complex and could get messy, everyone wants to get the new approach right. Not to make decisions that lead to more complex systems and that add to oppression, moving us away from collective liberation.  Even though governance can be seen as not very exciting (for some), it’s a very important process that needs to be right. As when it is, everything will then flow from it beautifully. 

It was also discussed that an extra in person catch-up was needed to cover other elements that make up GMSC – Community Wealth Building / wealth accumulation/community stewarding. These are still some foundational pillars of working together as a temporary stewards team and were not touched upon in this meeting. Therefore it was decided to cover these topics at an extra ‘in touch with nature’ meeting at the start of May.

This meant after check-out, everyone left feeling positive about an extra day together and getting out into nature. But before this, the next meeting in April will be to build on the decision making process and what that means for the GMSC. 


Text by Sal Browning

Illustration by Selva Mustafa

Photos by Virginie Assal